Friday, 9 September 2011

Assignment: Laundry

It’s Friday!  Welcome to ‘The Chronicles of a Reluctant Housewife’ documenting my learning curve as a new, and unexpected, full-time homemaker.

I know I speak a lot about laundry when describing my housewife status*.  I also know that laundry is not a housewife-exclusive task.  It is an inevitable chore for everyone that doesn’t wish to be the subject of the question, ‘What is that smell?’
However, I find that it is a task that is overwhelmingly present on my daily to-do lists.  Maybe it is because washing machines in Britain are so much smaller than the beasts I first learned to use in America.  Maybe it is because we have fewer clothes (due to a chronic lack of wardrobe space in London flats) that we wear repeatedly.  Maybe it is because we do not have a clothes drier and everything takes at least a day, or two, or three, to dry in the damp (which let's face it, is at least 9 months out of the year).  Or, maybe it is because I am pretty crap at actually getting clothes clean. 
I have an irrational fear of using really hot water when doing laundry.  I know it’s ridiculous, but it is because the majority of our loads are mixed colours.  I don’t have the square footage to air-dry numerous colour-coded loads.  Our flat already looks like a functioning laundry most of the time.  The shower curtain rail is occupied with drying shirt and trousers six days out of seven, the radiators are permanently draped in clothing regardless of the presence of heat, the drying rack is in a kind of perpetual motion between bathroom, kitchen and outside depending on weather conditions and my activities and there is forever a pile of clothes at the foot of the machine waiting its turn. (this becomes a tripping hazard as the machine is under the kitchen counter directly below the dish rack and adjacent to the sink.  it's like a chore obstacle course down there.) 
I was making lovely and efficient use of the clothes line, but the seasons have turned and the tree is producing berries.  Last weekend I went out to discover our fitted sheet covered in berry and bird-shit splatters.  So ends the season of a laundry-free(ish) flat. 
I tend to wash with luke warm or cold water.  To be fair, this isn’t usually too much of an issue, as we aren’t particularly messy people.  However, we are both sweat-ers and getting that activated-deodorant smell out of shirts requires hot water and strong biological powder.  This means carefully planning of loads and outfits.  The amount of brain power used up coordinating washing and drying is exhausting, I tell you.  Of course, this is then doubled when I have failed to get out a stain, which to be honest is about every three loads. 
It goes one of two ways with me and stains.  Either the stain fades but is still very present (usually in the chest area, so very noticeable), or the stain goes but the clothing is left with a faded spot where there is no longer a stain (again, in the chest area).  Then there is a third, less frequent, but common enough, scenario in which I get the double whamming of a noticeably faded fabric with a faded, yet still prominent stain. 

The horror.  I know.  It keeps me up nights.

But I plug on, experimenting with dial combinations, water temps and detergents.  I am determined to master this laundry thing. 
I have a handle on the cooking and generally keep a clean house.  I make a mean after-work cocktail.  I am shying away from minor repairs after rendering our sink drain completely blocked instead of just slow by not diluting the caustic soda enough.  This resulted in a complete dismantling of the sink plumbing and some minor chemical burns on Monday night.  Not so good there.
I will master my fear of hot water and laundry.  It is all that standing in the way of me becoming a competent housewife.  I will prevail.

*cue rousing, inspiring music as I gather another load in my arms and head toward the machine, a glint in my eye and determination in my heart*

*For those of you that might be new to the blog and this series in particular.  Please note that most of what is written here is done so with my tongue firmly in cheek.  I do not wish to offend or belittle the role of housewife/homemaker.  It is a role I am enjoying and one that I am very aware extends far beyond laundry, cleaning, cooking.  Activities which I am sure will become so very unimportant and uninteresting when our family expands beyond us two (or if I begin work outside the home) but which are of quite a bit of interest to me (and I think a lot of other 'overly-educated, un-employed' women) at the moment.  Hang in there. 

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