I hate laundry.
It’s relentless. Bottomless. Endless. Complex.
And I’m not picky about laundry. I’m one of those people who washes everything together at the same temperature with a red sock thrown in just to prove I don’t care.
In fact, all I really care about is towels and underwear. Because when you can’t find a clean one of either of those, there is no substitute. I refuse to re-use a dirty one of either. I will even wear my husband’s underwear in protest. That seems to backfire. For some reason only a guy can understand, he seems to like it.
Remember that my husband is a stay-at-home dad. Laundry and shopping are technically his, even though the kids and I are expected to take a share of that load. When I’ve had a crazy schedule, though, things can get backed up in the laundry department and a silent family protest seems to begin. The pile gets higher and higher until you can barely see the front of the washer and dryer. No one wants to begin, because it’s too much of a commitment. It’s like a contest to see who can go the longest without clean laundry.
And if a load does get done, it sits. Then it smells. Then we have to run it again. And when it’s ready for the dryer, someone takes what was in the dryer – the rare clean laundry – puts it in a hamper and sets it in and amongst the piles of dirty laundry until it loses its clean identity and it looks like just another hamper of dirty clothes.
When I am suspicious that a hamper contains a dryer load of sweet-smelling cleans, I grab an item and take a nice long whiff. You only have to make a mistake once before you stop doing it and just opt to re-wash it all. I figure the risk of re-washing is worth the unforgettable whiff that identifies a dirty load.
And socks. Good gravy. It’s not logical that socks – in every household in the U.S. of A. – are such a universal problem. “How big is your un-matched sock collection?” is a heckuva conversation starter in my circles. In fact, if you don’t “get it” when this question is asked, you’re immediately tagged as too affluent or not-at-all-helpful-at-home.
So WHY does this sock issue happen? People have been making jokes about it since the beginning of clothing. There is not a standup comic who doesn’t have a sock-laundry joke in his or her repertoire. I thought our sock issue would clear up when everyone in the house got old enough to fall into a tight range of sock sizes. Everyone today wears between a women’s 9 and 11, with the notable exception of our son, who wears a men’s size 15., which doesn’t pose a problem because he is in a phase where his socks are wildly colorful and $20 a pair so they’re treated as formal wear. Otherwise, I was able to combine everyone’s socks into one massive pile. White and black. Still doesn’t work. And I can’t seem to bring myself to pitch the giant bin of unmatched socks. I am holding out hope that reunions will occur. Even a couple of pairs would make the giant sock bin seem worthwhile.
But it never happens.
Still, I never give up hope.
SO laundry – if we were to narrow our soul-crushing household issues down to the greatest ones – easily ranks numero uno. Beating out sinks full of dishes, dust bunnies, filthy door jams and fly guts on the ceiling from one of my frequent hunting expeditions with the swatter.
I’ve tried to be clear. I’ve established guidelines:
Guideline #1: Everything in the laundry room that is NOT in a machine is dirty.
Problem: This does not bother anyone in the house. They consider this a convenient classification, because it means there’s a chance something in there will eventually be washed. By somebody.
Guideline #2. You may not fish out a single item from the dryer. If you need something in there, you must fold and distribute the whole load.
Problem: This is just a question of stealth. If you know the thing you need is in there, you just have to be fast and quiet, and no one will be the wiser.
Guideline #3. “Fold the Laundry” means “Fold the laundry, sorted by person, and distribute to that person’s room.”
Problem: The preferred method of “distribution” is piles-on-couches. What better place to fold laundry than in front of the TV? And what better place to look for something to wear to school than there, too? Why make the extra trip to a bedroom when all roads lead to the TV anyway?
As they see it, the sorting-by-person guideline really only applies to my stuff. Because that’s the only time I realize something has been mis-classified. And if there is underwear in my pile at all, I’m so grateful that I’ll forgive the occasional stray t-shirt or shorts in my pile. They know this.
Guideline #4. Badly folded laundry is considered unfolded laundry and must be re-done for the chore to “count”
Problem: Unless I witness the bad folding, it is nearly impossible for me to identify the culprit in a bad fold. And before I finish articulating my complaint,. the item has been skillfully re-folded and slapped back onto the pile, which satisfies the kid’s original objective of having someone else fold the laundry.
Guideline #5. When you empty the dryer, you must remove the clean clothes from the laundry room and take them away to be folded.
This assumes an empty hamper is nearby for the transport. If it’s not, they think it’s best to revert to strategy #2: stealth. If you’re caught dumping the clean laundry back into the hamperless dirty clothes heap, you can always grab what is still in the dryer at the moment you were caught, gather it in your arms, beaming, “I was just going to fold these.”
Guideline #6. Socks count. They must be paired.
Problem: No one minds this guideline. Because there are never pairs. One must just transport the fresh batch of unpaired socks back to the bin where they can mingle with other singles.
So there you have it. In effect, a venting session. I must admit that it has bought me another hour of avoiding the laundry room. But now I must admit defeat, throw in a chick flick, and start folding.
Because eventually, even the boxer briefs run out.