Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a back to school tutorial: how not to do laundry

This post was originally published in 2008, and still gets the most number of reads per week of all my posts (followed closely by "Photo styling 101: How to roll towels like a pro"). The traffic around this post always increases exponentially in mid September (coincidentally, around the time newly-minted college students start running out of clean laundry and begin frantically searching the internet for instructions) so I'm rerunning it as a sort of public service message, or maybe a cautionary tale. So let this be a lesson to you!

How not to do laundry

   We have a system for doing laundry at Camp Cactus...the evolution of which seemed to happen rather organically, and naturally (meaning: nobody actually designed the system, it just sort of occurred; and said system's evolution has happened at an agonizingly slow pace, like the melting of the glaciers before global warming). Here's how it works:
Step 1: There are 3 baskets, beautifully handmade by child laborers highly skilled workers in China. One for WHITES, one for LIGHTS, and one for DARKS. Are you with me so far? Ok, so these three beautifully handmade baskets usually reside in our ridiculously huge bathroom, waiting patiently to be filled with the correct shade of dirty laundry. (This seems very simple and logical and easy to me...so why do so many people insist upon doing their laundry in one giant, washing machine- killing load? But, I digress...)

Alternate Step 1: See steps three and four for explanation.

Step 2: The now-full basket of dirty laundry is moved into the hallway outside the bathroom, waiting for someone (anyone?) to carry it down 2 flights of stairs, over 2 baby gates (a story for another time) to the basement laundry room/hovel to be washed until sparkling clean, or at least smelling like spring rain.

Step 3: The sparkling clean, smelling-like-spring-rain laundry is plopped warm and fresh out of the dryer into its beautiful and functional Chinese basket, carted back up two flights of now exceedingly steep stairs, over two baby gates (destined to someday cause one of us in our increasingly aged condition to break a hip), to the bedroom, where it is deposited in the middle of the floor. This location was chosen (again in some organic, evolutionary way) for its position relative to moving about the bedroom, meaning of course that anyone wishing to move about must step around it. Evolutionary timeline of this era: millions of years (okay...maybe a day or two or five) Which brings us back to Alternate Step 1: (see above) where dirty laundry waits not for an empty basket.

Step 4:
After a few days sitting in the middle of the bedroom floor, the piles of dirty laundry have grown too big for the bathroom, and something must be done. So, the basket is emptied onto the largest flat surface available for folding.

At which time, it has started to resemble a giant sand castle molded in the shape of a hideous malformed lump, startling the lounging cat, and causing whoever faces the task of sorting (and sometimes even folding) this pile to sigh loudly and complain about the whole system.

There. All done. Now isn't that better? Stay tuned for my next tutorial: How not to fold sheets. Coming soon.