Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Dark Side of Whites

It's laundry day, so naturally I'm procrastinating—I'd much rather write about laundry than do it. Yet, I seem well-suited to the task. I like clean clothes and I'm orderly by nature, so folding should be my forte. Still, though I like having the laundry done, I'm loath to do it.

I particularly dislike doing laundry here in Florida. We renovated our apartment with every intention of creating room for a full-size washer and dryer, yet in the end the laundry area wasn't deep enough to accommodate the larger machines. The medium-size Bosch side-by-side appliances we purchased are beautiful to look at, state of the art, yet surprisingly unimpressive. The dryer's lint collector is impossible to clean and clothes that came out of the dryer unwrinkled back in Boston require ironing after emerging from the Bosch dryer. The front-loading washer is downright scary—it goes into its spin cycle like a rocket ship lifting off on a noisy mission to outer space. More than once, a neighbor who happened to be passing in the corridor just as my machine was lifting off has pounded frantically on my door, sure that an explosion was imminent.

The worst aspect of doing laundry in Florida is the need for more loads. With my extra-large Kenmores back in Boston, I can get away with washing one dark and one light load of clothing per week. Here, I'm lucky if I can squeeze a week's dirty clothes into three loads. Usually, it takes four. Sheets and towels also require three or four loads per week, rather than the two I'm used to in Boston.

The last time I washed the towels, I tried to cram three bath towels, a bath mat, two hand towels, and two wash cloths into a single load. In Boston, I would have had room to spare. Here, I could barely close the washer door. That should have clued me in that I was making a mistake, but I was determined to save energy—mine and the environment's. Fortunately, I'm too much of a worrier to leave the apartment while the washer is running, so I decided to put off walking the dog until the load finished. I was at my computer when I heard an alarming thudding sound. I raced to the washing machine, where the heavy sodden towels were giving my rocket ship a run for its money as it entered the spin cycle. I had to practically lie across the top of the machine, putting as much of my weight as possible on it, to calm the violent shaking and prevent the washer from truly taking off.

Naturally, laundry presented an even greater challenge while my kids lived at home. When Aaron was a baby, he rarely played in his playpen, since I used it as a large laundry basket. Once I'd washed and dried our clothes, I'd throw them in there, where they'd sit, sometimes for days, until I got around to folding them. Even now, laundry threatens to overwhelm me. Recently, I've designated two days a week as "laundry days"—one day for clothes, the other for sheets and towels. At least that way, I don't feel guilty about not doing laundry during the rest of the week, only when I procrastinate on the designated days.

Not long ago, I discussed the vicissitudes of laundry with a friend, who described his approach to the problem—he does laundry virtually every day, throwing whatever's dirty into the wash, so he never has to deal with full hampers and multiple loads. Maybe that's the solution for me. I can't start the day without my mug of coffee. Why not make it a mug of coffee and yesterday's dirty laundry? I fear I'm not disciplined enough to adhere to such a schedule. And even if I were, there's still the issue of ironing. Don't get me started on that.


  1. It is a shmae that we can't try out a machine before purchasing it. I feel the same way about bathing suits. It would be terrrific if we could jump in a pool to determine how they fit when wet. I bought a simple gas stove for the country only to discover you practically have to shut down the burner to lower the flame. No modulation. This is why I hate buying new appliances.

  2. Especially love this title.