2017-07-12 / Opinions & Letters

Sudsy woes

Midwest Memo

Our laundry room at the farm doubles as the furnace room, tool shop, recycling center and storage closet. It does all this in space about six feet wide and 10 feet long.

This was not the original plan. Our house was to have a nice big basement where the laundry center would go in one corner, the utilities in another and the recycling, storage, tools and miscellany could disburse elsewhere.

Alas, the first good scoop of earth by the foundation guys revealed water just below the surface of the ground. The basement plans got tossed and the area where the basement stairs were to go became command central for the entire house.

As a result of this space problem, doing laundry at our house is a harder task than it should be.

Folding laundry in a space this small and cluttered is a job for the proverbial threearmed paper hanger. To find a spot to stack laundry requires one to rearrange just about everything in the room including a toolbox, a vacuum, and stacks of cat food tins.

You can’t shake wrinkled clothes right from the dryer because there’s insufficient space to stand in front of the dryer. To shake out clothes elsewhere means risking sending the aforementioned cat food tins flying, or knocking over the aforesaid vacuum or toolbox or the miscellany that inhabits this small space.

It’s a wonder we do laundry at all. Except that for all its space constraints, our laundry room at the farm has one thing going for it - it’s private.

When I am in the city, I do laundry at the laundromat in my building. It’s a big room in the basement with a couple dozen washers and an equal amount of dryers. The set up is pretty nice, actually. You use a prepaid card, no quarters, there’s unlimited hot water, two laundry sinks and many folding tables. If that was all there was, that would be fine. But there are also other people doing their laundry, other people with prying eyes, opinions and eccentricities.

Even though I’ve been doing laundry now for decades, I’m here to admit in public what is obvious in public. I can’t fold worth a darn.

I’ve got the concept down. I know how folded laundry should look and how it should stack up. But no amount of concentration, or folding, or refolding, can get my sorry batch of laundry to look like the surgically engineered laundry of my neighbors.

I’ll shake the stuff, match corners, stretch the fabric, and smooth, smooth, smooth the surfaces of my freshly laundered items. Despite all that fussing, a half dozen t-shirts, all the exact same size, will wind up each in its own unique shape.

Don’t even talk to me about sheets or pillowcases. Last week the neighbor folding to my left wound up with what looked like a collection of identical quilt pieces ready for stitching. I, on the other hand, had what looked like the makings of dumplings.

There’s a regular cadre of cleaning ladies that do laundry in this laundromat. They sit in a circle near the bulletin board and speak in a foreign language. Occasionally they will break into shrieks of laughter. In those moments, I imagine that my folding is being critiqued.

This fear of folding in public explains why I put off doing laundry in the city. Last night I could postpone the inevitable no longer so I waited until quite late to start the process. My reward was that by starting after 11 p.m., I actually had the place to myself. When I moved my things to the dryer about midnight, I figured I would be folding later all alone.

I went up to the apartment and noted what time I should return to the empty confines downstairs. Then I apparently fell sound asleep on the couch.

This morning the ladies were back at it in the laundry room when I finally got myself down to retrieve the contents of two dryers.

And I’m here to report that, based on experience, leaving one’s clothes in the dryer overnight does nothing to improve the folding prospects the next day.

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