October 10th, 2011

Lessons on The Big Spin Cycle

It’s hot and churning.  It bumps and grinds, it shimmies and shakes.  It washes away all the distress of the day.  And it’s something you’ve probably never done before.  You’re going to need some lessons.

It’s LAUNDRY.  What did you think we were talking about?

Unless you actually had to earn your allowance while under your parent’s roof, this is one chore that may be totally new to you.  And it can be a bit tricky and, er, embarrassing should others see you struggle with it.  (This scenario has been successful fodder for so many sit-coms over the years, we’ve lost count…)  Here are some tips to get you started.

Find out where the laundry room is; easy first step.  Take a moment to go there (sans dirty clothes) and scope the place out.  Find out, in this reconnaissance mission:

  • how much money it costs per machine;
  • what denominations of coin are needed (this is one of the biggest rookie mistakes);
  • be prepared for the first curve ball: you may need to use a prepaid card;
  • casually ask around about this card.

This first step, of course, needs to be done well in advance of your running out of clean clothes, towels or sheets.

Next step: sort the basket of dirty duds.  Fundamentally, you want to sort light from dark.  There are some exceptions to this basic rule, but if you are a laundry virgin, then don’t even worry about it.  It’s a basic dark vs. light, just like the battles in Starwars.

Specialty items: some things can’t be put in a washer or dryer.  The tags will tell you.  Your spidey senses will alert you to these items.  Basically, anything your mother or grandmother hand-made for you can’t go into a commercial machine.  Any item that cost over a hundred dollars is suspect too.  Check the tags.

How to read the tags is another lesson in itself.  Unfortunately, nobody really knows what all those different symbols mean.  The global clothing industry uses symbols instead of words so that every language can understand them.  Nobody understands them, except your mother, grandmother and perhaps a few aunts.  Pick up the phone and call to ask (do this under the guise of calling to say hello and catch up, then slip the question in at an appropriate time.)

When in doubt, it’s best to hand-wash the questionable item.  A little dish soap in the sink and a couple of squeezes and then rinse, rinse, rinse.  This is how it was done back in the prehistoric ages (well after the invention of indoor plumbing, but before the mighty machines.)

As for laundry soap, don’t overdo it.  Less is more: the machine will do most of the ‘cleaning’ work.  Overdo at your risk: just be prepared to hear a lot of giggles when the suds start overflowing from the washing machine that you are so casually leaning against in your last pair of clean jeans.

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