Friday, September 19, 2008

Rambling Talk About Laundry

My friend K has a washing machine, but no dryer.

No dryer! I don't know how she functions without a dryer. But she's all, eh, no big deal.

Most Brasilians don't have dryers, either, so I'm not sure what the heck I'm going to do when we move there. It's not so much the hanging up of clothes, but the ironing needed after everything is dry. My MIL irons everything, including sheets and underwear, on a daily basis.

I will wear the same shirt to work three days in a row rather than iron another work shirt. I hate hate hate ironing.

So I asked K why she didn't go to the laundromat to dry her clothes, since she had just run out to collect her clothes off the line because it had started to rain. She wouldn't have to deal with the weather, or all the ironing.

K: Laundromats make you feel bad when you go. It's a real downer. It's not like Walmart.

Me: Walmart? What are you talking about?

K: Walmart makes you feel good when you go. Well, and not buying anything. That's bad. BEING there makes you feel good. You know?

Actually, yes, I do. It's the one place on the planet where I feel put together and fashionable. But that only works if your clothes aren't wrinkled.

And I know what she means about laundromats, too. It reminds me of when I was living in L.A. and the washing machine in my apartment complex broke and I drove around for quite a while looking for the cheapest laundromat. I finally found one and started using it regularly. Besides the guys that always tried to get glimpses of my underwear, I didn't think it was that bad. Though I refused to sit in the chairs because they always had something sticky on them, so I sat in my car and just parked so I could keep on eye on my clothes through the front window.

Then I found out from a friend that's lived there all his life, the area the laundromat was in was a really really bad part of town. Hadn't I noticed the litter in the streets, the graffiti on every building and the gangsters walking around?

And, well, yeah, I had noticed. But I'm kind of dense like that. The very next day there was a shooting in one of the cross streets of the mall the laundromat was in, which I found out the next time I went and saw bullet holes in the cement wall underneath the windows and asked about it.

I actually stayed and washed my clothes, but never went back. I found a laundromat in a more upscale part of town. It was more expensive, but I figured an extra quarter per load was worth my life.

And even that more upscale laundromat kind of tainted me for the rest of my days on laundromats in general. Even ones in apartment complexes. Which we had to use until we bought our house a few years ago.

And then finally, not only did we have a laundry room to call our very own, we inherited a stellar washer and dryer. I do believe I hugged and kissed them the first day we moved in, and they've been humming along in constant use ever since.

Now I just need to remember to remove the clothes from the dryer once they're done and put them away so that wrinkles don't set in. Kind of like remembering to take the clothes out of the washer so that they don't sit and mildew for three days. But that's another story, more fitting for a post on my raging absentmindedness.

Um, actually? Since we're on the topic? Anyone have any recommendations for how to get that mildewy smell out of a washer? Because I may or may not have left some laundry in there since Monday and now can't get the smell to go away.


  1. Have you tried vinegar? That's what usually does the trick for me. It also cleans the washing machine well.

  2. My Mom has a dryer, but hardly ever uses it. She just LOVES the smell of clothes that have dried in the breeze! That is until, however, the local dogs come over and pee on the sheets she's just hung on the line!

  3. I have a really nice dryer but I only use it for towels, socks and underware. The rest I hang to dry. It smells amazing and it doesn't shrink!
    I use a cup of cascade in the washing machine once a month to clean it out. I put it in the actual washing machine drum, not the dispenser where you put the detergent. Then I wash it on the sanitize setting.
    I'm like you though. I don't iron. Who has time to iron these days?

  4. The easiest solution for ironing your clothes in Brazil is a maid, or even a faxineira (cleaning woman). I resisted getting a maid for the first year, and after about a month of not having to wash dishes, clean toilets or iron clothes, I wondered why in the world I did not cave sooner! Of course, you could bring your dryer with you, but I too like the smell of things dried on the line.

  5. I barely have time to throw my clothes in the dryer much less hang them; I'm guessing it would be better for the world though.

    I never feel good when I go to Walmart ;)

  6. i use oxi clean in every load. that might get rid of the smell, but if that doesn't work, try white vinegar... that seems to be good against smells

  7. Yeah...go with the vinegar. I actually ran a load of just towels, with a LOT of white vinegar and that fixed the smell. The mildew that actually RESIDES in my washer...that's another story. (We're renting, and the house was vacant for nearly a year before we moved in. It's really humid here, and it's a front loading washer - meaning, the water never really drains COMPLETELY. Yeah - ick. I finally removed the lightbulb inside the door and just never close it between loads. That's helped a TON.)

  8. honey wait a minute...did i miss something?? when are you moving to brazil??

  9. I was all ready with "white vinegar!" but I see some people have beat me to it. :)

    Our washer busted about a year ago and while I spent a lot of time checking the internet for laundromats, I could never actually bring myself to go. :) Because, like you, I have a history of hanging out in scary neighborhoods while I nod off in front of the spin cycle.

    Oh, and they don't use the dryer in Australia, either. When I was there, my MIL suggested I hang everything on the line, and I replied icily, "I really don't want bugs in my underwear." That country is full of bugs! :)

  10. I can't tell you how great it is to know I'm not the only one who forgets about the clothes being washed/dried! In summertime in South Texas, it only takes a few hours for wet clothes to get very stinky. I have found that washing them again in warm water (with cold rinse) and another cap full of detergent fixes it perfectly. You'd never know I had left it in there too long. Of course, this makes our water bill skyrocket, but HEY, my clothes don't stink! ; )

  11. P.S. I also hate ironing. There are clothes that I love that I won't buy (for myself or my kids) because they have to be ironed.

  12. sometimes I wonder just HOW the women survived before the 20th century....with 8 kids running around.


  13. funny you should ask! i actually did a post on this, but the short of it is, rerun the load with very hot water and 1-2 cups of vinegar. run cycle again using regular detergent in warm/cold water or whatever you usually use.
    here is my post:

  14. Your mother in law irons daily??


  15. I don't know if I could manage without a dryer either... but all sure do here!

    And I too loathe ironing with a vengeance. Which is why my poor husband has about 25 shirts piled up on a chair... I figure that he can probably survive the next 10 days until the maid starts...

  16. I was going to say vinegar too. As for the dryer, we were given one by the embassy, but it's American. And the plugs don't match up. We've been waiting several weeks on a friend of a coworker to come over and switch out the plugs for us. Meanwhile, we line dry. It is very time consuming and like you said, the ironing that needs to happen afterwards is crazy. Thank heavens for our maid. I would go nuts. I plan to continue line drying and then pop the clothes in for a quick spin when they are almost done. Here in Chile, electricity is very expensive. I would say that most people do the same. On all the balconies here you can see some type of clothes rack and tons of clothes just hanging out.

  17. I hate not to have a dryer! I got used really fast to use one while I was in US! And I definetely hate have to hang all the cloths! :P

    But when you move here you can buy a dryer! :)

    My sister did have a honeymoon, at least that is not her plans yet. SHe just stayed here the whole week (she will going be back to Switzerland next thursday) to show the city to the swiss friends that came and relax and choose the pics!


  18. When we first got married, we didn't have a washer or a dryer for a year. I thought I would die. BUT... not as much as I wanted to kill myself without a dish washer. I don't know if it was the combination of not having a single thing to wash clothes or dishes, but it was too much. In other words, I was spoiled and couldn't get used to the "tough" new lifestyle. One time, T-Daddy and I both got sick and couldn't do the dishes. They had piled up and it was just gross. When we got well, we loaded them in a big tupperware box and took them to his parent's house to wash. They lived an hour away. Now, that's dedication, don't you think?

    As far as mildew... maybe several BOUNCE sheets?

  19. I could not LIVE without my washer/dryer! It is heaven, and I hate to iron! I would try some borax in your can find it at most grocery stores and it takes the smell out of everythting safely!!!

  20. Hi,

    I just came by your blog. And I just love the post.
    By the way, my name is Fabiola and I live in São Paulo Brazil.
    About the drier problem down here... We are not really a dryer kind of country, (I miss the ones I had in US and in France ; )), and the dryers here are not as efficient as in US. I don´t know where you will be living (I am from Curitiba and I live in São Paulo), but depends on the place it is just a waste of money (like if you will live in the northeast of the country), but from São Paulo and down, in a long rainy week, the dryer is really wonderful appliance and the most missed one.
    Have a nice week,

  21. I hate, hate, hate ironing, too, which is too bad because (according to my mom), I have a really great iron. Go figure. I have 2 solutions to wrinkled clothing:

    1. Downy Wrinkle Releaser. This stuff is awesome! You just need to remember to spray the clothing the night before you want to wear it and the next morning the wrinkles are ALL GONE!

    2. Dry cleaners! I take all Brian's work shirts to the dry cleaners whether they are dry clean only or not. It is SOOO worth the dollar or whatever it is ($1.25?) to not have to iron those shirts.

  22. I'm just getting used to not having a dryer again. In Mauritania, I had a maid, plus it was so dry that clothes dried in about 20 min. Here it's much more humid, and it's taking things a minimum of 24 hours to dry. Plus, I need to iron everything. I hate hate hate ironing, and I NEVER do it in the US, but when in Rome, I guess.

  23. I dry on the line almost all the time . . . it is just much more convenient. My back yard is fenced in. Downey wrinkle releaser is my best friend for the really bad clothes. However, since I am a teacher at a school with simple uniforms (jeans and school logo t-shirts and polos), I almost never have to dress up (we aren't required to wear them, but we are encouraged - twist my arm).

    I only iron on special occasions. Most of the time, I can go just a little wrinkled. Don't really matter to me :)


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