Archive for the ‘Wash and Learn’ Category

Unbalanced

September 9, 2011

This morning I used all of the dryers in my laundry room. That troubles me.

There was a reason for my profligate drying: I’d washed sheets, towels and blankets, and they required a good long tumble to dry.

Normally I would have tried to pile them into a single dryer. I’m not the sort of person who believes items that must be washed separately also must be dried separately. I’ll toss my blue dishtowels into the dryer with my white socks and sheets. No harm done.

Yet, I’ve learned from past experience that piling more than one wash-load of sheets, towels and blankets (plus socks and underwear) into a single dryer is imprudent. Overloading the dryer causes it to become unbalanced. The dryer won’t work when it’s unbalanced.

So I used all of the dryers—there are only three, but still—and I created another sort of imbalance: I took more than my share.

The laundry room has always been a test of one’s sense of entitlement. People who arrive dragging behind them six weeks’ worth of fetid apparel and accoutrements, then expect everyone to step aside while they commandeer all of the washers and dryers, don’t make many friends in the laundry room.

The machines are for everyone’s use. We share them and sometimes we use them concurrently. It’s up to us to make sure that we don’t use more than we really need; that we save some space for others so everyone has a fair share.

Unless there’s balance, things won’t run smoothly.

Cool Enough for You?

August 5, 2011

An actress with a significant coolness quotient now stars in television commercials for a laundry product. Presumably her presence in these ads was an attempt to make doing laundry appear to be more cool. The manufacturers needn’t have bothered.

Laundry is inherently cool.

What constitutes coolness?

Independence – Laundry is a graphic representation of independence, of the ability to take care of one’s own needs.

Control – Laundry places you firmly and unquestionably in control. Who else makes the decision of when, where and how the wash will be done?

Superiority – Doing laundry for others who can’t or won’t do it for themselves reinforces the fact that you’re in charge. Where would those people be without you? Wherever it is, they’d be there naked.

A relaxed and confident attitude – Laundry is relaxing, if you allow it to be. It’s certainly not a cause for stress. It is one task that should not make you feel fearful, hesitant or insecure. It won’t harm you or defeat you. And nothing boosts confidence like a pile of freshly laundered clothes.

On my washing machine there are temperature settings for Hot, Warm and Cold.

There is no setting for Cool.

Laundry doesn’t require one.

Washing and Reading

July 27, 2011

I’ve been thinking about the time we save by washing our clothes in washing machines versus hand-washing, scrubbing on a washboard or beating them against a rock (I guess).

Hans Rosling says that when his mother bought her first washing machine she used the time she would have spent washing clothes by hand to read to him, and to read books for her own pleasure as well. Imagine! Time to savor a novel or to learn something new.

One neighbor of mine, whom I’ll call Poppy, studied for her law school exams in the laundry room. The washers and dryers created a pleasing hum that drowned out distractions and allowed her to concentrate on her reading. Down in the basement she would be left alone, and the bright lights of the laundry room kept her awake and focused.

How many people wash and read these days?

Cover Spy occasionally catches people in the act of washing and reading, like the 20-something guy reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot in a Brooklyn laundromat a week or so ago.

It’s a gift, isn’t it? All that free time. We should use it wisely.

Hot Hot Heat

June 1, 2011

Outdoors the temperature is creeping toward 90 degrees. In the laundry room I’m preparing to wash a load of cotton sweaters (delicate cycle-cold water). They look to be the last sweaters of the season, but nothing is certain. I wore them last week when the temperature hovered below 60. Today I’m sweltering in shorts and a T-shirt.

It’s disconcerting when the laundry is out of sync with the weather to such an extent. Best to do it all and be prepared. So, along with the sweaters in the delicate cycle I’ll toss in a couple of sleeveless tops.

Who knows what we’ll be wearing next week?

Keep Your Shirts On

May 12, 2011

My schedule has been unusual recently, leaving me less time for doing the things I normally do, laundry included.

Happily I’ve managed to keep clean sheets on the bed, towels in the bathroom and…erm…drawers in the drawers. The rest has been neglected, which is why today’s laundry featured 15 light-colored shirts and four nightshirts. It’s as much as the drying rack will bear.

Tomorrow’s wash load will contain some dear old friends I haven’t seen in a while. When the laundry piles up, wash day is like a reunion.

First Things First

April 14, 2011

I usually try to make laundry the first task of the day. That way, even if I can’t manage to motivate myself to tackle anything else on my to-do list, at least I’ve washed the clothes.

Then, the other day, I wound up in the laundry room in the afternoon and it made me think…

I’ve never been a morning person. The afternoon always was my time—the best time—especially when I was a kid. Back then, morning meant waking up early for school (and nothing good could ever come of that). Afternoon was a time of release—full of promise and freedom. In the afternoon my time was my own, and I could choose whether I went outdoors to play or plopped myself in front of the TV.

When did doing tasks in the morning trick me into feeling virtuous? When did the arrival of afternoon bring reproach, reminding me of all the tasks I have yet to complete before the day ends? When did I begin to see things from the opposite side?

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I can choose what I do in the morning and in the afternoon. This afternoon, I choose to do laundry.

The Prodigal Sock

March 28, 2011

It has returned!

The lost sock is back in its rightful place, rolled up with its mate, tucked in the second drawer from the top in my dresser.

I discovered it lurking in the hamper, tangled in a pair of jeans, evading detection. How it managed to escape me for so long, I cannot say. All I know is that it’s back where it belongs now.

I’ll admit that I was disappointed when the sock disappeared, but a part of me never lost hope that one day it would find its way home. Tossing away its mate would have indicated a finality that I wasn’t prepared to accept. So the remaining sock sat on top of my dresser—a small sign of faith—and together we waited.

Staying positive is not something I do naturally or well. Seeing those socks in my drawer each morning reminds me to adjust my outlook.

Matchless

March 7, 2011

I lost a sock.

In the catalog of life’s disappointments this registers somewhere above breaking the point off a favorite pencil and far below stepping in gum. Yet, I am disappointed.

I liked the socks formerly known as a pair: brown and white striped body reaching just above the ankle and a solid brown heel and toe for accents. Although I’d owned them for years—possibly as many as ten—they were in good condition, their elastic still stretchy, their soles free of holes. I own many pairs of socks (probably more than I should, really) but I wore these frequently. Now they’re gone.

Well, not they exactly, but he…it…one. I couldn’t even say which, for socks are interchangeable in that way. First left, then right—the ultimate in apolitical. Socks don’t mind which feet they cover—not like shoes, which will tell you right off if you’ve put them on in a way they simply do not wish to be worn.

It would have been possible for a neighbor, upon finding my stray sock in the washer or dryer (for I do believe the sock disappeared in the laundry room) to tack it to the bulletin board beside the other matchless socks. I might have seen it there and taken it back. (It would be highly unlikely, but incredibly exciting, if my sock ended up here.)

But no one found my sock, or if someone did, he or she probably tossed it in the trash. I’m certain no one would have mistaken my sock for her own.

There will be other socks, but none quite like this one.

Faded Glory

February 8, 2011

I own three towels—two bath towels and one hand towel—all soft turquoise blue, all bought at the same time.

They travel together from the linen closet to the hooks on the back of the bathroom door to the washer and dryer and back again. They’re all washed hot, lately with Seventh Generation laundry detergent because I like the Blue Eucalyptus and Lavender scent.

Yet recently I’ve noticed that the three towels no longer match. One has faded to a greenish version of its original self, one is dusted with aqua blue, and the third is going gray.

I still treat them as contemporaries and I always will, but clearly they are aging at different rates.

Then again, don’t we all?

Unhampered

January 31, 2011

I wonder how many people clean the house before they go away for a few days. I always do—vacuum the rugs, wash the dishes, take out the trash, tidy up—and not merely because burglars, should they choose this time to visit, would be scandalized by my usual level of untidiness.

I do it so that I come home to a place that’s ready to welcome me when I return. I don’t want to come home to my everyday disarray; I want to come back to the home I envision, where all the pieces are in place except for one. The last missing piece is me.

Naturally, before I go away I do the laundry as well. Then, when I return, I have clean clothes in the closet and an empty hamper waiting to be filled with my traveling clothes when I unpack my suitcase.