It All Comes Out In The Wash

I love doing laundry. That may qualify me for the list of “certifiably insane” but I’m willing to bet there are a few others like me. Folding clean laundry into crisp tidy piles gives me a sense of control over the madness of life, my thinking that if I can press out the wrinkles in the fabric, smooth the edges and fold them tightly, then surely, I can do the same with life. It’s a nice idea, though lacking scientific proof, but there’s no harm in the analogy. When I feel desperate or overwhelmed, I have been known to iron pillowcases and tea towels. My grandmother came to visit infrequently when I was young but when she did come, her stay was extended and by the time she departed she had ironed just about everything in the house. So perhaps it is a genetic thing, being watered down over the generations. She never spoke a word while she ironed and I found myself wondering, from my viewing station from under the dining room table, what she was thinking about while the iron steamed and spit and hissed. Ironing was a thing in Ancient China a thousand years ago just in case you were wondering.

Psychology Today reported on laundry in 2018 (Seth Slater), claiming most people tackle laundry in one of two ways – “all-at-oncers” and “little-at-a-timers”. I’m not sure there is another alternative than those two but perhaps I’m missing something. I suppose there is a possibility of being a “never-doer” though I’m not sure how that would turn out. The article claimed that doing laundry more often reduces stress and allows the launder-er to feel a sense of accomplishment on a more regular basis. Are they giving too much credit to the task of washing clothes? The writer of the article related his conclusions to having been a former dolphin trainer for the United States Navy, teaching dolphins to identify various shapes in the water by making a unique vocal response. Who knew there was such a thing? I smell torpedoes and mines and the like, a readiness for war. The successful training techniques, Slater claimed, involved shorter and more frequent sessions, like laundry’s a-little-at-a-time approach, as opposed to longer intensive training.

If I had to go to a laundromat, which I did at various times in my career as a laundry person, I would far rather be an all-at-oncer. Now, I’m a little-at-a-timer laundry person and when my children were little, I was an alot-at-a-timer. The laundry was relentless as I remember, and sometimes I wondered if the dirty clothes were reproducing in the hamper between loads.

On my walks years ago, I walked by a home whose clothesline was usually full and the clothes were hung using the rainbow as the template. It was a lovely sight and always made me pause and take in the simple beauty of it. I decided whoever created that scene was an artist at heart and maybe the only time to express their innate talent was on laundry day.

I love laundry in the summer even more because using my clothesline allows me the temporary feeling of being noble, fighting back against energy users, and the smell of air-dried clothing is second to none. On a mildly breezy day not only is the fresh air fragrance injected into the fibres of my laundry, but the wrinkles are evicted in a much more charming way than the dryer is capable of.

My mother was a laundry savant. She could remove any stain from our clothes and her whites were brilliantly pristine, though she had a couple of blunders in the shrinking department. I don’t have those same credentials and there have been no awards given with celebration and fanfare. I didn’t have to appear at a microphone, gobsmacked and wordless at being the recipient of such a high honour. It’s the process of laundry I enjoy, though I do strive for stain-free despite the frequent flaws and my repeated attempts to wash tissue, which is never a good idea.

Someone once complained to me about having to do laundry. “Don’t you just love the twelve seconds when the laundry is all done,” she said, her voice thick with sarcasm. She made a valid point – unless you’re doing laundry in the nude there’s no such thing as being “done” the laundry. She also said that the person who said the only guarantees in life are death and taxes had never done laundry. She wasn’t wrong.