Saturday, April 30, 2005

Laundry With Love

Laundry is a simple thing, right? All you do is throw the clothes in the washer and turn it on. Not so fast, girls! My husband told me that when he was single and having to live away from home while he was a young preacher, he made his first trip to the laundromat. No one had told him that the red car seat covers, his suit, and his white shirt, could not be washed all together in the same load. The result was that the suit was totally ruined by the shedding fluff of the car seat cover, shrunken and mis-shaped by the hot water, and totally wrinkled from the heavy wash cycle. The only white shirt he had, was stained a light shade of red.

Although it was over 30 years ago, this kind of naivity still goes on, even among 40 and 50 year olds who are homemakers. Sometimes, when a garment or household item is ruined by such indiscriminate washing, an individual will attempt to return it to the store and get their money back. They will usually be told that the washing label attached to it says, "Wash separately," "delicate cycle," "cold water," "line dry," or "white's only."

Most importantly, think about the people you are doing this for, and what your home is going to look like. If you throw in the dry cleanable drapes with the decorative pillows on the couch, don't be surprised if the trims are ripped off the pillows and the drapes are wrinkled. Think about the way your want your house to look, and the way you want your people to look after they are dressed in these garments that you treated so casually in the wash. If you don't want them to look like they've slept in their clothes, then treat the clothing carefully.

Ironing is another subject that can be covered at a later time, but just as an example of what your laundry techniques say about you, there was a time when in general, homemakers would be ashamed if their husband's dress shirts were wrinkled, or if there was no crease in the sleeve to show that it had been carefully ironed. It was a reflection on their home, and they thought that people would think the husband was not being looked after by the wife, or that she was too disorganized or lazy to press a shirt, even though she was afforded full time homemaking, with all the time she wanted to devote to caring for her family.

Even while growing up on the homestead in Alaska, with the primitive way of washing (which at the time we thought was very convenient and modern!) we sorted the clothes into piles of:

Jeans and overalls: blue jeans and denims always bleed blue into the water.

Unless you want your white socks and underwear blue, or your prize table cloth slightly blackened, wash jeans separately or with other blues of similar type of fabrics.

Don't throw in a blue dress, for example, unless the blue dress is also of a sturdy fabric like jeans. Just because the garment is the same color, does not mean you wash it in the same load.

Some garments need to be washed on the delicate cycle. The normal cycle wrings the water out very tightly at a very fast spin. This can ruin delicate clothes and even wrench the buttons and trims off.

White underwear: such as tee shirts, sox, and other underclothing, that is of sturdy cotton, can be washed in hot water, on the normal cycle, and dried in the dryer on a hot setting. Remember, not all whites can be washed this way. Some whites, such as delicate women's clothing, or things like doilies, table runners, and laces, must be hand washed and treated carefully.

Towels: Make two piles of dirty towels on your laundry room floor, or have baskets for each kind of laundry. One pile is white and pastel, and the other is dark. Some people find it advantageous to purchase only white bath towels, because they want to make it easier to wash them. However, dark colored towels are desireable for many reasons. Whatever the case, sort them into two wash loads, and do not wash them together. If you do, you will find the light ones become muddied in color, and the dark ones will lose their color and fade, which makes them lack a fresh look.

Dish towels: These should always be washed together, separate from clothing of any kind, and preferrably in hot water. In fact, it would be a good idea to put them in a separate basket to collect them for washing, in the first place, rather than in a general laundry basket. They need a disinfectant or some bleach of some kind in order to sanitize them. Potholders and cloth hot pads can be treated the same way. Sometimes people forget to wash these things, but they collect a lot of debris on them. Placemats and tablecloths should be washed separately from dishtowels, on a gentler cycle. If you don't want them to fade, do not wash them in hot water.

You might be tempted to lump the dish towels together with the bath towels, but you may regret it once you see hair on your dry dishtowels. It is better to keep the two kinds of towels separated.

Bedding: It isn't necessary to wash the top blanket or bedspread, if this is mostly decorative, and put there to match the room. In fact, it will wear it out unnecessarily. Blankets don't need to be washed all the time--maybe only once or twice a year, if there hasn't been sickness or if there has been no bodily contact with them, or stains. (If you want to freshen an antique quilt, just hang it outdoors in the fresh air for awhile.)That is why we use fresh sheets--partly to protect the blankets from odors and soiling. Wash sheets as often as you like, and use the same rules as washing towels.

If you have a bed set with matching curtains, decorator pillows and table rounds, you may disappointed when, after much washing of the bed spread, it fades in comparison to the matching accessories. To save wear and tear on a matching spread, take it off the bed before sleeping, and place it on a quilt rack. If you wash it often, you need to also wash your curtains and matching accessories with it each time, so that the entire set will wear and fade at the same pace.

Outerwear: Check the labels on dresses, skirts, tops, nylons, dress shirts, and so forth, and sort them into the piles they belong to. Not all clothes that require cold water should be put together, because some will fade, and some do not require the same kind of spin cycle. Sort these further into piles according to color and type of cycle. The normal cycle will generally be rougher on the garment than the delicate cycle. Nylons and womens garments do well on the gentle cycle. White blouses and shirts need to be washed separately.

Blankets, rugs, and car seat covers: Don't wash these with any other clothing or linens, but don't wash them all together in the same load, either! You'll have a terrible mess on your hands, as a washable rug gets soil and all kinds of things on the car seat cover that will be impossible to remove, and the blankets will not get clean. Wash each of these things separately. You may need to run a plain, clean water rinse with a little vinegar or even bleech, after washing particularly dirty items, before you do another load of regular clothing.

Nylons and small things: baby socks and other things that seem to lose their mates in the wash, can be coralled inside a mesh bag. Look for these in WalMarts and dollar stores. If you have trouble with socks that go missing in the washing machine, this will solve your problem and make sorting the dry laundry much less tedious.

Your Machine: Out of respect for the washing machine and the one who purchased it for you (even if it was yourself), do not overstuff it. It makes a poor wash. It puts strain on the machine. It can often cause mechanical troubles. Your machine will last many years if treated well. Smaller loads will dry better and faster, so don't chuck it full to the brim with clothing. Leave some room for the water.

Your machine will stop, or agitate in a noisy way if you do not balance your load. You cannot stuff a blanket in it in a blob, and then add a bunch of clothes here and there and expect it to be balanced. Instead, put your sheets around in the basin evenly, and do not add things to one side without adding things all around. Some people attempt to trade their machines or get their money back when the machine reacts to an unbalanced load. Read the directions on your machine.

Save the directions to washers and dryers and hot water heaters and put them in a folder where you can locate them when there is a problem. If there is a problem, make sure that you are such a consciencious keeper of this machinery, that it is not your fault, and be willing to admit it if you are the one at fault, through treating the machines roughly and poorly.

Do medium full or half full loads with lots of water, rather than full loads that hardly get wet because of too many things. It will be easier on your machine, you'll experience less breakdowns of the washer and dryer, and you'll get a much better wash. If you stuff too many permanent press or wrinkle free clothes together while using the gentle cycle, they will still come out wrinkled. Then when you put them in the dryer or hang them on a line, the wrinkles will not fall out. Stuffing a machine too full does not accomplish a good job with laundry, and will cost you more time and money in the end.

Water: Clothes get less wear and tear if cold water is used in the washer. It saves you money, also, and there are liquid soaps now that dissolve quite well in cold water. If you want your clothes to look fresh and new for a long time, use cold water. Hot water can cause certain items of clothing to pill...that is, they get little fuzzy pills all over them. Do use hot water for baby things, underwear, and dishtowels and certain mens shirts that are 100% cotton. Sometimes the synthetic fabrics will melt in hot water, so be careful about water temperature with these.

Detergent: Be discerning in the use of laundry soap. You don't necessarily need to use the full capful advised on the bottle of laundry soap, neither do you need to be too stingy. Most clothes today, unless they are used by a farmer or construction worker, are not soiled enough to warrent much soap. Detergents wear the clothes out too, and cause them to fade. To test whether you are using too much soap, take a laundered item and put it in a pan of rinse water. Squeeze the garment and see how much suds it makes. Often, entire loads of laundry can be put through the cycle without adding detergent, since there is so much detergent still deposited in the clothes. Too much detergent is abrasive and may also harm the machine and the drain areas. If you are doing the small or mini cycle, use good sense and do not use as much detergent.

The dryer: Don't run the dryer all day long. Give it a chance to cool down and rest. Collect the lint often. Lint has been the cause of many dryer fires that have burned the entire house down. Do not leave the house when the dryer is on. Do not overstuff the dryer. It will not dry, and you'll have to put it through the dryer cycle again, which puts more stress on the machine. Treat your dryer with respect. Don't bang the door closed, and don't yank the door open. Turn off the cycle first, and then open the door. Make sure the dryer says "off" when you close the door if you are finished with it. Some dryers keep ticking the cycle even if you don't push the "on" button, and this uses up the dryer's life, as well as unnecessary power.

When you open the door of some dryers, you'll see a metal catch that holds the door shut. Always make sure none of the laundry gets caught on that thing, before you close the lid. If something catches on it, it will be a tight, twisted mess that will be impossible to straighten out, and you might end up throwing it away. Before you close the dryer door, look and see if anything is caught. Make sure all the things are fully inside the dryer.

Dry your clothes in the same categories they were washed. Take out the drip-dry items before putting a load in the dryer, and hang them on a hanger where air can circulate around them. Don't put fluffy towels in the same drying batch as black dress slacks and dress socks, or they will get lots of little fuzzy things on them that will be next to impossible to remove.

Your clothes and washable belongings: Have respect for yourself and treat your clothes with thankfulness and love. Your family is special. Each person deserves to be clothed in well fitting clothing that has not been treated horribly by
shoving all the colors and textures in the same load.

Household linens: Doilies, runners, tablecloths, and crocheted items should be washed with care. This is an interesting site that shows how to wash these things, and adds a bit of enjoyment to it.

The Laundry Room: Keep it clean and orderly. Decorate it cheerfully so that it won't be a trial for you to get in there and do your work. Use wallborders and accessories that help you enjoy having a laundry room. Keep the dryer and washer free from clutter on the tops. Hang shelves for the detergents.

Laundry Products: You can now buy a variety of products that are natural and have an uplifting scent, or you can make your own. Check your Bath and Body shops for laundry rinses and other laundry supplies. In the meantime, to make your own rinses or pre-treatment spotters, go here or here

In days gone by, we used dishtowels on which were embroidered the day of the week and the task that was to be done. Here is a spiritual concept to those chores that I know you will enjoy.

The list of days and chores made a lot of sense.

Monday was a good day to wash, after Sunday's restful activities.
Tuesday was naturally for ironing, after the wash was gathered in from the line.
Wednesday was logical for mending, after the ironing revealed needed buttons and tears.
Thursday was great for cleaning, after the wash was out of the way, and in preparation for grocery shopping and food preparation for the weekend.
Friday was shopping in preparation for the weekend activities, and
Saturday was cooking, to be ready for Sunday.

I hope you've enjoyed this dissertaion on laundry. I found an accurate description of how we used to do laundry here.

There are many things worth taking note of, in doing your own laundry. In many respects, I think we lack the spiritual values in some of the chores we do, not remembering for whom it is being done. Life's days are short, and we must do our best while we live here on earth, so that we may hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of our Lord." Your home laundry can be done professionally and with pride, as if you were doing the most important job on earth, keeping in mind the people you are caring for, and the dignity with which you want to them to wear their clothing.


Ari_1965 said...

Useful and interesting. Thank you.

csuflady said...

very useful! do you know if it is true that washing jeans on the gentle cycle is bad for your washing machine? I have recently been told that, but I always wash my jeans on the gentle cycle and have never had a problem.. thanks!