I do laundry for the same reason I picked up smoking again. It feels good. There is a certain level of comfort in having every piece of cloth in the house freshly washed, dried and Downey-ed. I have ritualized it and made excuses for it. All laundry needs to be done by bedtime, Sunday night. Fresh linens put on the bed right before bed so I can enjoy the smooth, clean, hot-but-not-overdried fresh scent. This makes me feel that all is right in the world.
My relationship with laundry is long and like most addictions, convoluted. My first load was when I was eight; my first solid and permanent household chore – wash, dry, fold and put away the family’s towels using the half-half-third folding method so they could be placed neatly in the closet. I still remember pulling that first load out of the dryer and being so disappointed that they weren’t fully dry and thus learned my first laundry lesson of the elusive correct drying time.
In college and after, when the availability of quarters in my bank account determined when I could get my next load, I was known to take it to my Dad’s house. My dad does his household’s laundry. He developed a formula of Tide, Clorox 2 and Downey and Bounce dryer sheets that to this day I have not been able to replicate. Its not a secret. I stand there with him as he pours the components into the wash, I take notes, I watch closely, journeyman to the master, yet the final scent alludes me.
It is, perhaps, like my brother’s sandwiches. It is simply that he makes it that makes those sandwiches so delicious. It is simply my father’s hand that gives it that special something. I’m 34 years old and I can’t tell you the pleasure I get from wearing clothing my dad has washed. Is there something Freudian in there?
When I was single, working and partying, I saved Sunday nights to prepare for my week. Clean and vacuum the house and spend the entire night doing laundry and making my bed with fresh linens. It was my meditation time and the sense of accomplishment as I slipped between the tightly tucked sheets, knowing that every garment, every sock was in its place has never been replicated. Not from cleaning up pretty bad credit or even losing more weight than most people weigh to begin with. Or successfully wrestling with a foreign country or the seldom acknowledged foreign land of marriage. Nothing makes me feel as accomplished as an empty laundry basket and freshly made bed.
Now that I have a washer and dryer to myself, in my loft (no hoofing laundry up and down basement stairs), I find that I can’t control my addiction.
I have even been known to strip Sparky bare, simply to wash the T-shirt and panties he wears so that my laundry basket remains empty for the next day. A rogue pair of socks can ruin a Sunday night. I have been known to wash small loads, but not even this addiction can justify a load consisting of a pair of socks, right? Right?
When we bought this washer the sales lady explained that there was an electronic sensor to gauge how much water to use in relation to the load size. I asked if it it could compensate to wash one shirt or a single sweater. Both she and Sparky asked who would wash just one article of clothing. Well, I would. There is a delicate cycle for a reason. And a mini cycle that take a brief 30 minutes as opposed to the hour and half for the normal wash. Perfect to assuage my guilt at the one or two item wash.
I have as many laundry products as I do beauty products. As a 34 year old woman, that is saying a lot. One of the top ten perks of Germany was finding the stain remover aisle at the grocery store. I am no longer a slave to Zout for all my stain needs, even though Zout is still a fave. Now I have little bottles for each type of stain. And they work better than anything I have found in the American market.
The sad thing about having a front loading washer is that I don’t get to pour the detergent into the water and watch it dissolve before loading the clothes. I really liked that part.
Now, some might say I ought to get a job or have a kid, put that energy to good use. Like my sister whose response to my comment that she is wasting her potential as a theatre arts major, is that as a hausfrau I should probably not talk. Well, we’ll see who she calls the next time she has a stain issue.