Monday, March 22, 2010

Head Laundress

I've gotten the kids pretty well trained on one task lately: they do their own clothes wash.

I know - this is big. I think when I went away to college at eighteen I had never done my own, but in a household in which I've never done Husband's laundry, it was only a matter of time.

I was going to do Husband's laundry once we got married. Not really because of some dutiful housewife thing, but more because he was so optimistic that since he'd finally married (he was thirty-six) he finally wouldn't have to do it. But, really, hadn't he noticed what he'd been dating for the last year and a half? He couldn't have failed to notice that I had no prowess around the house. 

So we went in the laundry room together because he planned to give me something called "instructions." Apparently, there were instructions - the first death knell for him getting his wash done. One of the instructions was that when his clothes went in the dryer they were only allowed to be tumbled for a few seconds before the shirts would need to be yanked out hung up wet, making sure the collars lay flat. To quote, he didn't want his wash "cooked."

So, long story short, I've never done his laundry. Unless he was interested in the Linda "Stuff-As-Much-Into-A-Washer-As-Can-Fit" and "Dry-Until-It-Burns" methodology, then he obviously wasn't interested in me being his laundress.

But since I have such low standards, the kids and I have been getting along very well in the laundry department. Of course, sometimes they forget to put in soap and have to wash their load again. And then sometimes they forget to transfer the wash to the dryer, leaving everything in there to rot, and, yes, have to wash their load again. But overall, a good deal.

But the other day, Bar Mitzvahzilla left a load in the dryer and I needed it so, huffing and puffing like a martyr, I unloaded it. The minute I opened the door, however, there it was. The most dreaded thing you can ever find in a dryer: the skinny string of tissue. My heart sunk. Of course, I knew what had happened. Bar Mitzvahzilla had left one Kleenex in one pair of jeans and, somehow, somewhere in the mysterious world inside the washer and dryer, that one tissue had multiplied and divided and stringified into thousands and thousands of skinny pieces of one-ply tissues.

Could this have been avoided? I don't know. Would you want to put your hands in the pockets of a fourteen-year-old's clothes to pull used tissues out? Would you even want to get involved if he was doing his own wash? Anyway, the damage was done. I unloaded his laundry, consisting of more tissue than clothes, and left it for him to sort later.

Then I started transferring my wash over and what did I find? Wet tissues.

Do you do your husband/partner's laundry? Does someone do yours? What have you found in the washer or dryer that doesn't belong there?


  1. I do all the laundry. I HATE it when people do my laundry because they inevitably shrink and/or permanently stain the clothes. Even my husband. I know. I have issues.

  2. a permanant marker.
    on everything.
    lipstick in the dryer on whites.
    gum in a pocket.
    (It melts and melds)
    crayons in and out of pockets.
    and tissue...
    Which, if you will throw a wet washclothe in the dryer and clean the lint thing...most of that tissue will come off into the lint trap.
    Milk gets out permanant marker...or at least lightens it dramatically..
    lipstick will come off if you get stain remover and put it on every. single. spot. of lipstick on every single item of clothing.
    crayons in pockets. hang it never ever ever comes out.

  3. Amber, you're a saint! But would you do Ben's laundry if he told you to pull all the shirts out when they're wet, hang them up and fold down the collars? Hmmm.

  4. Chris, now I'm happy it's just the demonic tissue and not lipstick or crayon. But wouldn't I be surprised if my son had a lipstick in his wash, anyway?

  5. Here I am, it's 7:18 am and I'm eating some frosted flakes and I gagged. Yup, I totally gagged. So thanks for that on this gray, rainy day.

    But don't worry, I'm also chuckling a bit. My laundry methods are pretty much the same as yours. And if my husband tried to give me instructions like those? I would sure just laugh my way right out of the laundry room.


    We have lots of allergies and sniffles in this house, so the demonic tissue makes a regular appearance in my washing machine/dryer.

    This post speaks to me, Linda. My laundry skills are on par with yours. And yet my husband is still lazy enough to permit me to do his, although he will sometimes bitch about shrinkage of things. And then he gets the stink eye and is smart enough to shut his gaping pie hole.

    When 17 year old stepson is in residence, he asks me to do his laundry, BUT he insists on washing his own underwear. I try not to think too hard about this one.

    Obviously, the girls are too young to do their own, and my unsuccessful potty training adventures have resulted in non-stop running of the washing machine AND nightly Cloroxing of the defiled washer.

    Thus, no other household chores are getting done, because obviously I spend my whole life in the laundry room.

    Whew! As you can see, I have much to say on this issue!

  7. I am so enjoying your blog and your writing:)

    I used to do it all. Then when my kids got older, I did like you and tried to teach them. The son at college is getting by just fine or not telling me otherwise. I will do my other son's laundry on school days. He saves up tons. My husband no longer works outside the house so will pitch in with ours. We keep it together. EXCEPT for his stinky exercise clothes that are not allowed to be washed with anything else and I try not to touch.

    Yesterday I found sunscreen (stick) and pocket handwarmers in the washer. We just got back from a ski trip.

  8. We take turns doing the laundry. I would say I take more turns but David is busy with school and work. He tends to have just one day off a week but I am like you Linda. I hate laundry and I forget about it in the washer until I have to rewash it or a dry until it's all one big hot pile that will take hours to steam out. This last weekend I actually did a great job. David had done the laundry last week and outshined me. He didn't leave any piles of laundry on the bed or the kids dressers. He had done the laundry and hung it up right away. What a concept. I try to drag out the process forever. He knows I am competitive so I am sure he worked his phycology degree on me...whatever it worked and life was easier. Heather

  9. this is hilarious! Let's see... I do get the awful tissue in the wash on occasion, but my laundry surprises are most often those Lysol breath strips ( my husband leaves them in his pocket), pens, pencils, crayons, but by far the most common item is EVERY SINGLE LOAD somehow includes a Star Wars figure and/or Legos. It has become such a problem, that I put a cup in the laundry room and confiscate the toys. I told my son that every time I do a load of his clothes that has nothing extra in it, he can pick one toy to have back. I have a cup FULL of Legos and Star Wars figures in there!

    Oh yeah.. and I find money quite often too. But, I consider that my tip for doing the laundry and it promptly goes into MY wallet!

  10. Yes - what is up with tissues? I learned somewhere that matter can never be created or destroyed, but apparently, with tissues, it can proliferate and stringify, as you put it so brilliantly. How, I ask?

    Chez Motherese, I do the laundry and Husband does the dishes. We have each staked our claims and try not to make too many comments about the way in which the other performs his/her task.

  11. Lots of comments. Obviously, lots of people have washer/dryer issues. It's a funny thing. When I was growing up, I eventually did my own so that when I went to college I was capable. I did my own for years. When I was married, I did the laundry. Everyone's laundry. And, yes, you learn to check pockets because you find everything in there. Now, I am back to living with my mother and she won't let me wash anything. It is her washer/dryer and she is very territorial about the whole thing. I haven't done any laundry in years. She will gladly let me fold my own clothes. THAT'S IT!

  12. My laundry skills are ok...have found just about everything except crayons, thank God...

    Really, I wrote a post on this about a month ago. Here is the link:

    My main problem is that I don't put away and the loads multiply...Somehow, I don't think this is what God was thinking about when He said, "Be fruitful and multiply."

  13. My oldest has started doing her own. She usually waits until I'm in the middle of washing all the rest of it.

    I hate finding tissues in the dryer. Yuck. I have a friend with 5 boys. She once had a pocketfull of bugs go through her wash. Fun times.

    And I need to start a load now or there will be no jeans or underwear tomorrow. :(

  14. nobody here minds my LOW laundry standards ;-) i have found rocks, bugs, creepy crawlies, fishing lures, 22 ammo, bb's, diapers, toilet paper, the list goes on and on.

  15. Hey, it sounds like laundry in my house. I stopped doing my son's laundry when he was in HS because I kept finding clean folded stuff in the hamper whenever he cleaned his room; he'd just toss clean piles in rather than put them away. The girls each started at 13 as a result. I love it!

  16. I put my daughter in charge of her own laundry right after she started shoving twelve outfits in one day in the hamper, expecting to have them suddenly cleaned, folded and put away. These days I'm just happy if I make it through a month without washing a car key, battery and all.

  17. Sarah, sorry about the upchucked breakfast. Nice way to start your day, here on BarMitzvahzilla...

    And, yeah, Husband has only himself to blame on the laundry!

  18. TKW, I used to painstakingly Spray-n-Wash every article of Daughter's clothes. It took hours! I was emotionally invested in this tiny girl wardrobe, I tell you. Then one day I realized that I didn't spray-n-wash my son's and it all ended up clean and that was the end of that - a big, heaping mess!

  19. Waisting Time, I can't believe there's such a thing called "pocket handwarmers?" and I've never had any. I know I live in Arizona but I have ice chips for hands. And it's hard to write with frozen hands! I'm intrigued (ebay, here I come!).

  20. Heather, David sounds a lot like Howard then! Like when he does the housework, he does it better than me! Thank goodness I take absolutely no pride in it. :)

  21. Jennifer, so great about holding the Star Wars figures hostage! Love it! And, how could I forget about the coins clinking around in the dryer. Or about when my son washes his money and then cheers as he finds a soaked through but fine twenty dollar bill? I think I live in a sitcom.

  22. I am so glad I am not alone in the world. I am the worst laundress. My husband usually does my wash.

    But I haven't yet managed to get my kids to their own laundry. How did you do that? I am so impressed.

  23. I find that your methodology works perfectly. And, I am happy to report, that the past three years, my sons have learned to do their own laundry. That doesn't mean they always do (there is a tendency to wait until there is not a single sock or boxer brief left in the house that wouldn't walk away on its own)... but, improvement has been made.

    One little issue (particularly with an artist in the house) - the pens and markers that often remain in trouser and jean pockets, no matter how many times I say EMPTY YOUR DAMN POCKETS FIRST.

    The point finally hit home when my younger son (recently) ended up with navy spotted clothing - an entire load - including his favorite white T-shirts, a great red sweater, and a light gray hoodie he lives in.

    I hand wash. In tiny amounts, in my bathroom sink.

    No pens allowed.

  24. I am the laundry maiden 'round these parts. My husband is often the initiator, as the Great Pile offends him much earlier than it does me. He will start a load and then forget it. So I take over to avoid the "rot," as you mentioned. Also, he always leaves receipts in his pockets, and I'm always picking tiny bits of paper off everything. I don't think I've ever washed a tissue though. Can't wait for that day!

  25. Kristen, I love the idea of a household agreement with Husband, except I couldn't trust him with laundry (he'd pull it out of the dryer soggy, then hang it up, right?). Whenever he unloads the dryer, it's one big ball of wet clothes. The "don't cook my laundry" mantra at work!

  26. Robin, I LOVE that your mother doesn't let you do your own laundry because you're living with her! Is that cute? She is absolutely the best husband you could ever have, right? Well, maybe...

  27. Charlotte, you're right. There is a play on a proverb or a Biblical phrase here! And now that I think about it, I remember your post about the piles!

  28. Outdoor mom, thanks for visiting my blog! I enjoyed my visit over at your place too and now I understand how you might find a munitions factory in the clothes, not to mention bugs! Sometimes you just can't be queasy when emptying the washer and dryer, right?

  29. Nice job, Maureen. I have to say, I have the same problem. They do the wash, the sort, it gets back to their room, and then it sits there gathering dust. Next job for Super(lazy)Mom.

  30. Lisa, Ugh. Girls in high school - I can't wait. And, yeah, when they hit 12 outfits that I "need NOW!" forget it!

  31. Terry, it started with my daughter who's a petty tyrant and wants to control the world. If there are buttons to be pushed and flashing lights that result - she's there. Then, once I saw she could do it, the lazy boy had to learn!

  32. BLW, I guess that's the last time he washes a marker? (Probably not!) One time we got a red t-shirt for my son in Mexico and it dyed everything he had pink. It didn't matter how many times we washed it or if we washed it with all color-safe clothing. Finally, I took it and threw it out.

  33. Stacia, love the "Great Pile" imagery! And receipts, tissues - anything you have to pick, pick, pick. So annoying!