I know better than to go to the grocery store between four and six on a week day afternoon, because that's when everyone else goes. The food aisles are clogged with carts, shoppers and oblivious small children running in every direction. Turning left from canned goods into the meat and deli aisle is an act of courage. More than once I’ve nearly crashed into another cart. Those darn Fruit Loops end units make visibility impossible.
Even worse than trying to move about the store is the long wait in the checkout line. It seems that everyone has carts filled to overflowing, and patience zapped from the bumper-car-like challenges it took to get them this far.
I try to avoid such shopping situations, but that isn’t always possible so when I find myself at the end of a long line of tired shoppers with a lot of purchases, I grab a magazine and read till it’s my turn. Of course, I always purchase the magazine because who wants to buy a periodical all read and used.
It was during one such shopping trip that I stumbled across an article on the “proper way” to wash clothes. This article went on for four full-colored pages. I was intrigued. How much could there possibly be to washing clothes?
Step one, according to the writer, was sorting. We were to read the labels on each item, then separate them by hand-wash, dry clean, dry clean only and machine wash. I had no idea there were two dry clean options. Apparently the first is just a suggestion, while the second carries jail time.
Next you go through your machine wash clothing and sort it according to the cycle. Normal, permanent press or gentle. I’ve never used any cycle but normal. I figure if a normal cycle is good enough for my jeans, it’s good enough for everything.
At last, the article says, I must separate my dirty clothes by color starting with dark and gradually moving to light, with real true whites reserved in thier own category.
If I was following these instructions, I would find myself with fifteen piles of two or three items of clothing a piece. Please… who has time for that? I have six children who, for every pair of pants I wash, are getting two dirty.
Step two makes such useful suggestion as checking pockets before loading clothes into the washer – where’s the adventure in that? Most of my spending money comes from stuff that comes out with the clean clothes.
The writer says that you are supposed to zip up zippers, button buttons, tie strings, buckle buckles and snap snaps before ever putting them in to be washed. I’m envisioning a sweet tempered homemaker sitting in a rocking chair and watching afternoon soap operas as she works tirelessly preparing her family’s clothes for their exciting laundering experience.
My loading method is to grab a arm-load of clothes in similar colors, stuff them into the machine, toss in some soap and fabric softener and get back up to the kitchen before the soup boiling on the stove over flows.
The next page suggests ways to make your laundry cleaning experience even better. You can add vinegar or table salt to the rinse cycle to keep colors bright and dye from running onto other clothes. This works great if you happen to be walking by the laundry room, with vinegar and salt when the machine hits this point in its cycle. I’m lucky to get back to the laundry room within a few hours of when the wash finishes.
Their suggestion to dry light loads first and then follow up with heavier materials like terry cloth and denim while the drum is still warm sounds good on paper, but in real life, at least for me, it’s just not happening.
I close the magazine with a smile. Maybe someday in my empty nester future I will buy clothes with instructions like “don’t allow water to ever touch this fabric” or “This sweater will do best if it is given its own room”. But right now, my priority is not the brightness of my kid’s colored t-shirts, but how much time I have to spend with the little bodies that I’m washing them for.