Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bertha’s Bakers Dozen ™: Tips for the Laundry-Impaired

     The Yankee is notorious for being helpful, stubborn, and downright terrible at laundry.  The more I talk about it, the more I’m finding other people have the same problem.  As evidenced by the “dyed” ankle socks (thanks, Dad), dingy shirts, and shrunken sweaters I’ve suffered at the hands of the inexperienced (and did I mention stubborn, hard-headed, willful …), it would appear there exists a need for some laundry advice.

     Well, Letterman has his ten; Bertha has her Bakers Dozen … and this time, it’s the Tips for the Laundry-Impaired list.  Whether you think of yourself as the ultimate laundry master or you have trouble distinguishing between the washer and dryer, here is my list of laundry tips that will help you become a better person and possibly salvage your relationships:

13) Just because something is white, it does not automatically require hot water.  I would recount the horrors of discovering my white silk blouse had been submerged in near-boiling water for the mere fact it was a perfect snowy hue, but these tears are blurring my vision right now.  

12) When it comes to laundry loads, “too much of a good thing” really is too much.  It’s admirable (I guess) that you’re trying to “save water” (nice excuse), but cramming 3 hampers-worth of clothes into 1 washing machine is: a) too much, b) a manifestation of intense laziness, c) a sure-fire way to ensure your clothes are just as stinky coming out of the wash as they were going in.

11) There’s also “too little”.  Now that we’ve addressed overloading a washer to the point of choking, I will also point out that there is a problem called “undersized loads”.  Even if all you need is one pair of socks, have the courtesy to throw in a few other similar items.  Washing 2 socks in a single load is like buying an extra large pizza for 2 pieces of pepperoni. 

10) A “shelf life” isn’t just for bananas anymore.  If you leave wet clothes in a washing machine long enough, they will eventually smell like gym socks and old cheese with just a hint of belly button.  These must be re-washed before they are wearable.  And NO, throwing them in the dryer with a squirt of air freshener does NOT count.    

9) Just because a pastel yellow shirt has a tiny black flower embroidered on the collar, it DOES NOT qualify as a “dark”.  And if you wash this delicate pastel yellow shirt with black jeans, it will be as mucky gray as wet ashes.   

8) Just because your pants, my coat, the patio welcome mat, and the dog bed cover are all the same color brown DOES NOT mean they can be washed together.  “Sorting’ is a process that involves more than just color - it also involves type of material and degree of soilage.  (Yes, I made up that word, but it really should have been in the dictionary all along.)    

7) Extra soap does not equal “extra clean”.  There is a reason soap cups have lines on them.  They are to help you measure the appropriate amount of soap for your laundry.  Overflowing the cup is not only wasteful, it creates a sudsy, slimy film on your clothes that makes wearing them and miserably itchy experience.  And who wants to be sudsy in a sudden rainstorm or sprinkler mishap?       

6) Take a chance.  The machine washes the clothes.  The other machine dries the clothes.  Folding them won’t kill you.  And if you make the extra effort to fold in a way that doesn’t resemble a ball of knots, you’ll earn major pointage (another word that should have already been in the dictionary).

5) The washing machine washes, true, but it washes better when you help it out a little first.  If you wash dog blankets, the washing machine has to take care of the dirt and twelve pounds of dog hair.  Do it a favor and shake the hair off outside first.   

4) Share.  Most people have one washer per household.  If this is true in your family, here is a good rule of thumb: be considerate.  If you wash grease rags from the garage, have the courtesy to clean out the machine after using it.  Better yet, take the darn things to the Laundromat.  My cutesy-poo cousin Fran offered to make the Laundromat trip for her seven-foot husband, Stan (who likes to tell people how he wrote “Alice’s Restaurant” while Arlo Guthrie was doing time for littering), but he turned her down flat.  She did give him fair warning that if she pulled her dainty laceys (I should write my own dictionary) out of the washer and found a single dot of grease or a single dead bug, she would cause him great physical agony.  He was walking upright last time I saw him, so he must have taken her seriously.  Just to be sure, I gave him some rolls of quarters for Christmas.

3) Read the labels.  Not to sound like a deranged dietician, but reading labels is very important … especially when those labels happen to be attached to a favorite clothing article.  Yes, that shirt may look dryer worthy, but that does not mean it belongs in there.  Those pants might look like the countless other ones you haphazardly throw in the washing machine but, again, that doesn’t mean they belong there.  And for heaven’s sake don’t even LOOK at the bleach bottle until you’ve fully read and understood the aforementioned labels. 
2) There’s a reason “lint” rhymes with “flint”.  Lint is flammable, in case you didn’t know, so clean out the dryer’s lint trap once in a while.  The dryer works better and dries clothes faster if it has more room for airflow.  If you think it’s no big deal, I would challenge you to pull lint out of your dryer, crumple it into a big spongy ball, hold firmly to your mouth and nose, and then run up and down the stairs as fast as you can 16 times in a row.  When you come to, perhaps you’ll remember to clean out the lint trap every now and then. 
1) When in doubt, ASK!  If you see a swimsuit in the laundry room, don’t assume it belongs at the dry cleaners.  If you see a white bra with a tiny red bow, don’t assume it needs to be boiled or thrown in with the red towels.  If you see a crazed woman with a hand puppet made out of her shrunken favorite shirt galloping towards you, now would be the time to run.
© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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