The number 1,475 always sticks in my mind. That is the number of loads of laundry I do in a year. Each morning before I wake the kids up to get ready for school, I throw in the first of four loads that I will do in a day. Too me, that washing machine is like a partner. I know everything about it, the sounds it makes, how to tap it so it stops squeaking, and how to push its buttons. So imagine my shock and bit of sadness when I came home from dropping the kids off at school and walked in to smell something burning. My sweet washing machine had finally, after decades of working so hard, burnt out. I only had to go a few days without a washing machine before a pile of laundry formed that was big enough to fill the Superdome. It was time to face buying a new one.
After doing a little research, I headed to the store to buy a basic machine that could handle lots of large loads. That is when my washing machine education began. It took me less than five minutes to pick out the one I wanted, but the salesperson wanted to highlight the features and options for me.
To begin with, she showed me how easy it was to “turn the knobs.” I had forgotten that you don‘t have to use pliers to turn the screw where the knob used to be. I was so used to using every muscle in my arm to turn the stripped screw with the pliers, that I almost fell over the first time I turned the knob and it easily turned. Luckily, my feet were so firmly supported by the mounds of dirty clothes on the ground that I didn’t.
The next feature she showed me was the “load size option.” My choices now include teeny tiny for the times when you just have to wash one sock, the small load which falls nowhere on my radar, the medium and large load which I remember using way back in the past when I still separated my clothes, or the super- sized load for the person who has given up sorting by color and just shoves the clothes in. Obviously, super sized is the only load size option I need. I laughed when I was reading the owner’s manual and it said that packing the clothes in too tightly “could increase wrinkling.” I pack my washing machine like a can of sardines. When I was married my husband asked me to please NOT do his laundry anymore because I kept turning his underwear pink and his business shirts had more wrinkles than a Shar Pei.
The next “exciting feature” was the “temperature control.” I didn‘t know there was anything but cold. With the new washing machine my choices include cold, cool, warm, or steaming hot. How can my washing machine have more choices in water temperatures than my shower? After reading about the machines “ability” to sense if the water is too cool or too hot and make the adjustments without you touching a thing, I am thinking of climbing in and soaking in it at night. Between the water temperature and “gentle cycle” choices, this thing is beginning to sound like a spa hot tub. It is just wrong that my dirty clothes are getting a vacation before me?
Then the salesperson’s “excitement” really kicked in. She was thrilled to show me the magical button that gives you the ability to add an extra rinse to your clothes, add fabric softener OR add BOTH the fabric softener with an extra rinse. I was not nearly as thrilled. First of all, these are not exciting options to me. Why? Because I don’t have time for my clothes to have an extra rinse. See, when you pack your clothes in like sardines, sometimes all of the soap doesn’t rinse out. When I go to unload clothes, sometimes there are still soapy bubbles on them. My theory is that when you take out the soapy clothes and put them in the dryer, it gives the clothes that were on the bottom and didn’t have a chance to get soap on them an opportunity to get some while they dry. See, I have a method to my madness. Who needs an extra rinse?
The “ fabric softener option” made me smile. My kids think that clothes are supposed to be, in the words of my 5 year old, “crispy”. One time my daughter spent the night at a friend’s house and borrowed some pajamas. She came home the next day and asked me why her friend’s clothes were so soft. I guess her mom must use the “fabric softener option”. In my old washer, the “fabric softener option” was when you manually added it during the rinse cycle. So I had to make a choice. I decided that it was probably a better idea to remember the times to pick up the kids from school rather then to wait for the rinse cycle to start so I could add fabric softener.
Here’s the moment when I realized that I officially stink at washing clothes. And no, it’s not just because of the way my towels smell when I leave them in the wash overnight. It’s is because I don’t know how to use the ridiculous cycles settings. Heavy, regular, light, gentle, delicate, rinse and spin, drain and spin, and on and on. I could do with just two cycles. Dirty/sweaty sports uniforms and school/play clothes. The reality is that I don’t need a lot of choices. I set the button on “regular” and that is where it will stay until the day this washing machine dies.
What I don’t understand is why the washing machine lid has a “lock” on it. Once you close the lid and start the machine, it locks. Lock your doors, lock your car, but a lock on the washing machine lid? Seriously? If someone robs a house, I doubt they are going to look at what is running in the washing machine. It is such a pain because you can’t open it mid-cycle unless you hold the “unlock/pause” button down for three seconds. This machine was obviously not designed by a mom. It never fails that I put a load in and walk into a room and see a stray sock under the couch or a shirt on someone’s bedroom floor. This was not a big problem in the past. I would just throw it in the running washing machine. I tried to do that today with my new washing machine. I held down the “unlock/pause” button for three seconds and then spent the next ten minutes trying to figure out how to restart it. The words that came out of my mouth were not pretty.
I have a new washing machine with tons of “options and features” that I may never use. My only wish is that it included a magical feature or option that would change the fact that I will still be doing 1,475 loads of laundry this year. But there is one new feature that I do plan to use. And that is the one that will make “crispy” clothes a thing of the past. Fabric Softener here we come!