Some of you I realize, have been staying home far more than usual in the last few months. This has led to you either doing, or at least attempting, more domestic tasks than usual. Sheer boredom has led you to say things like, “I’ll do the dusting today,” or “I’ll make the bed,” and ask questions like “how do you turn on the vacuum?” or “does it matter which sheet goes on which bed?” You’ve become a fish out of water, and even though there is no virtual support group you can turn to, I’m here to say you are not alone. Many of us have been struggling these last few months to fill our isolated hours and have turned to whatever is available to fill this void.
In an effort to be socially conscious, I thought I could share some of my knowledge when it comes to Domestic Engineering. I don’t want you to be mis-led, I’m no authority. I probably do less than 10% of household anything. I’m not even the ‘Handy-Man’! My wife, Honey, is the ultimate when it comes to doing things right. She cleans, I tidy. This aside though, I do have a forty-year union on my side. You can’t live with someone for that long and not have something rub off. Today I thought I could go through a task that appears to be more complicated than it is, laundry.
Laundry is easy for me because everything I wear is made from industrial strength materials and is 90% black. I am able to avoid any separation anxiety, because sorting doesn’t exist in my laundry-washing world. Everything I wear goes in one load; I call it the ‘man-sized’ load. Honey would never do this, there is always separation in her laundry world.
My rational for one load is simple. I bought a “heavy-duty extra-large capacity” washer and dryer for a reason, I should treat it properly and give it a workout. You wouldn’t buy a sports car and not drive it faster than 50kph, would you? Heavy-duty means pack that puppy full! It was built for this purpose!! Put those settings on max, and let ’er rip!!! A word of warning. When doing a ‘man-sized’ load, do not add extra soap, it does not help and the clean-up is never worth it.
Most machines include ‘bells and whistles’, my washing machine is no different. This is where most of us start thinking laundry is complicated. I agree there is a certain intimidation factor when looking at a new power tool. But that is essentially what a washing machine is, a power tool. What do we know about power tools? If something goes terribly wrong, you pull the plug and apply pressure to the wound.
My machine has three dials I must set before I can start the washing process. I understand that some of you may have overspent because you were told that you needed to have the newest and most high-tech out there, and because of this you are now facing digital read outs. Do not dismay, as long as you do not hit the start button, you can scroll through your options until you find something you can understand. I personally did not over-spend and I have dials.
The first dial is a no-brainer, large or small load it asks. I do laundry once a week and usually do it in only one ‘man-sized’ load. There is nothing small about the contents of my laundry basket. Honey will take a half a basket to wash and tell me she needs to do laundry because she has nothing to wear. The woman has drawers and closets full of clothes! There are boxes in storage under the stairs marked with her name and the word clothes!! How is half a basket even possible??? A word of warning. Do not say anything in regards to these thoughts out loud. If you wish to avoid a stare that will freeze your heart, and a detailed explanation on how gaining or losing two pounds can drastically change a human body shape, your best to just nod and pretend you didn’t notice the contents of the basket.
The second dial needs me to select a water temperature setting. This again is simple decision to make when doing a ‘man-sized’ load. Cold! Always Cold!! Choosing any other temperature is suicide!!! If there is any hope of not turning a white T-shirt grey the first time you wash it, cold and only cold is the choice. Cold also retards shrinkage, so the T-shirt may still fit you for a couple more weeks. There is no guarantee with the dryer, but cold is a ‘man-sized’ load’s friend. A word of warning. Do not include any other person’s clothing in a ‘man-sized’ load, even when washing in cold. There is always a slight chance that this might lead to discolouring of the garment or a slight shrinkage. This will earn you more evil-stares or another body-shape lecture. Trying to be considerate is not worth the trouble, stick to your own stuff.
The last setting dial I must work with is by far the most complicated. There are four general settings as well as some cycle settings that you can choose from. From what I understand, if I start at the beginning of the general setting, all the subsequent cycle settings will be included in that general setting. If I wish to skip a part of the general setting, I can go to a cycle setting and start the wash from there. I know!! Clear as mud!!! The four general settings are Casual, Delicate, Soak and Normal.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to eliminate ‘Delicate’. I don’t own Delicate! I own crawl around on my knee’s clothes! I wash covered in dust, dirt, grime and sweat clothes!! There is nothing delicate to wash in a ‘man-sized’ load! ‘Soaking’ also make no sense. I want the grime removed! I’m not taking my clothes for a dip in the pool! The machine needs to work at getting the filth out! I didn’t buy it to be a sink!!! Soaking my clothes is a pointless act to me and a waste of perfectly good water.
The decision therefore comes down to ‘Casual’ and ‘Normal’. Examining the cycle settings is the easiest way to determine which is best suited for the task of cleaning a ‘man-sized’ load. I see that there is a cycle called ‘cool down’ in the ‘Casual’ setting. Even for my addled brain I know that cooling down would require that the water be warm. This should not be a requirement when washing in cold water! On the ‘Normal’ side of the dial there is a thick line with the words “Regular” and a thin line which extends behind the regular start position of the ‘Normal’ setting. The words “Heavy Duty” are emblazoned at the end of the thin line. Eureka!!! We have a winner!! A word of warning. It was explained to me that heavy-duty was meant for blankets and winter coats. Garments that need some serious agitating to get them clean. Regular work-wear does not need this kind of cleaning, not only will your laundry come out in a knotted mess, every pair of underwear you own will have the ass ripped out.
With my settings in place, the final step is to push the start button. I do this before I put the clothes in. I allow the water to cover the bottom of the tub (if there is no water flowing into the barrel you will need to turn the water on. Follow the hoses). I then add the detergent. Finally, I add the clothes. All of them. Push them down so they are below the lip of the barrel. Don’t be concerned, once the clothes are wet, they will take up less space. Close the lid, stand back and let the machine do its thing. Word of warning: If for any reason the machine stops working during the wash cycle, or for other troubleshooting information, like the machine is walking across the floor, consult your spouse. Be prepared for the lecture that for some reason will still include the part about the changes in body shape.
Next week we will discuss the dryer and how best to deal with the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ effect it has on socks.