I Like Laundry

No, honestly, I really do.

There is something so satsifying about turning a pile of dirty laundry into neatly folded, sweet smelling clothes that just appeals to my obsessive compulsive inner housewife.  (Also, have I mentioned that I like cleaning?  Yes I do.  I don’t even know how I ever became a feminist.)

I am one of those people who match socks when hanging them.  I am very particular about how trousers are hung (you peg near the ankle and never, ever hang from the waist.  Never. That is against all natural laws. I hyperbolise not.)  I bite my tongue when my partner does the laundry and try my best not to re-arrange, although he’s almost learned by now the specific way I like laundry hung.  He always does knickers and socks right.

I never realised how much I liked doing laundry until we moved to the UK.  In Brisbane, laundry was always done on a weekend morning.  All of it.  Saturday mornings were given over to listening to the washing machine whirring away.  Things dried on the line in a matter of hours and were taken in and put away.  A weekend of rain meant a larger pile of laundry for the following weekend but very rarely did it rain two weekends in a row.  You could always trust there would be some sunshine to dry everything.  The only danger was if you left your laundry on the line at around 3pm in summer.  Your lovely, dry laundry would get drenched in a matter of minutes if a storm blew in.  But in Brisbane, I resented laundry.  Sometimes, it absorbed my entire weekend.

In the UK, we first lived in a flat with no balcony.  The only place to hang laundry was indoors.  To (one of ) my sister’s great amusement, the washing machine was in the kitchen (in Brisbane, it was in the space under the house, always outside, always separate.)  I got into the habit of doing loads of laundry throughout the working week: my clothes hung drying while I was away at work; I put them away when I got home and the living room was useable; I’d fill it up again with laundry shortly before going to bed.  It was a system that left our weekends free.  A system I continued even when we moved to a house with a yard, and one I carry on in Melbourne, too.

On our bike trip, I obsessed over laundry.  You learn when on the road that you don’t actually need to do laundry that often and clothes can be worn more than three times.  Maybe even more than five times.  This I already knew from hiking: when you hike and camp, you have three sets of clothes: one for walking, one for sleeping and one set of clothes for travelling to and from the walk.  That’s all you need. (okay, you also need warm clothes and layers and waterproofs but you get my drift, yes? I am not wearing different walking clothes every day. I just put on the same stinky shirt, because I’m just going to stink it out some more any ol how.)  I had roughly this policy for riding: one set of clothes for cycling and one set for off the bike.  As we were travelling for a long time, I splashed out and carried two sets of clothes for cycling and two for off the bike. Total extravagance.

But on ‘rest days’ (non-biking days), I worried about how to get everything clean.  (Actually, I was more organised with my worrying.  I usually did it a day or two before our rest days.)  Only France had laundromats and sometimes we did not want to spend hours in a laundromat when there were chateaus to visit, cathedrals to gawk at and crepes to eat.  In other places – notably Spain, Morocco and Albania – I worried about logistics.  When, where, how?  Hanging laundry was never a problem: we had two bikes and a nifty laundry line (two elasticated pieces of string twisted around each other, a clippy-hook-thing at either end.  If you ever intend to travel for a long time, buy one of these.)  And I had to resist photographing our drying laundry.  I wanted to, almost every time I did laundry, because it all just looked so lovely to me: the prospect of clean clothes was so sweet.  And we have maybe about 20 photos of our laundry hanging in a multitude of campsites, but I’ll only show you one.

Laundry, La Jardin de la Koudyas campsite, near Taroudannt.

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14 Comments

  1. Well, what can I say? I admire your passion for washing! How about ironing? Any ironing infatuation? I do have a bit of an ironing love affair. It’s quite cathartic as long as the iron is on flat stick and there’s no water in it. Water ruins a good iron 🙂

    Reply

  2. You leave me speechless, Oanh. I have wrecked more than one load of laundry with my careless habits. So much that when I lived with my brother, he banned me from the laundry room (which suited me just fine). I did my own laundry for a while when I lived with a Chinese roomie. But when I got my current roomie, she took over laundry chores again. But I can understand some of your obsessions — the hanging of trousers, for example. Makes perfect sense!

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    1. Oh, I wreck laundry too … usually by leaving tissues in pockets of trousers.
      It is good to have a roomie who is obsessive about laundry! Lucky you!

      Reply

  3. This post made me smile but really liking laundry and cleaning is a bit much! Both are chores which I do somewhat reluctantly at the best of times. xx

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    1. For cleaning, all you need is the right music (I recommend Burt Bacharach and singing along at the top of your voice). Laundry is just soothing: ordered patterns, neatness and the promise – so sweet – of clean clothes. But yes, I am aware the joy is not universal. 🙂

      Reply

  4. Umm, I love to look at laundry swishing around inside the washing machine. In college, when I went home with my roommate, her washing machine would continue to operate even when the door was open. She caught me many a time standing there watching my clothes swish and swish. 😛

    In my family, everyone does their own laundry. I find communal laundry a bit strange to be honest. I don’t want someone else touching my underclothes and such. I mean, sure we might move clothes from the washer to dryer, or take it out of the dryer for someone, but on the whole, each person is responsible for getting their own stuff clean.

    When I roadtripped across Europe years ago, I handwashed my clothes each night and hung them up to dry in the bathroom. If they weren’t dry by morning, I just spread them across the back of the car to dry in the sun. It worked because we had a hatchback with a tarp so I could lay the clothes flat.

    I liked your camping and clothesline pictures. They looked homey.

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  5. Perhaps the homey-ness was why I too liked the laundry pictures.
    I like your confession. Watching laundry go round is one of the reasons I like front loaders and industrial dryers, although I don’t like what industrial dryers do to my clothes.

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  6. Great use of your bikes to help hold up your laundry. I have a great old fashion outdoor umbrella clothesline that I love to use. The rain is less predictable here in the middle of America. So I do the laundry any time their is a full load and two and the sun is shining. It is always great to bring it in at the end of the day.

    Reply

    1. Hi Mary! Thanks for your comment. That drying rack is exactly the shape of what we Australians know as a Hills Hoist (named after Mr & Mrs Hill). It’s fairly common for every surburban back yard to have such a thing concreted into the ground!
      I love sundried laundry 🙂

      Reply

  7. I also love laundry and especially ironing. But Oanh please tell me what are the advantages of pegging trousers by the bottoms rather than the top?

    Reply

    1. Yes, Helen, you will recall (I hope) how terribly impressed I am with your ironing.
      Oh, where to start on the advantages! Firstly, pegging at the waist creates a weird scrunched part at just the part of trousers that are most difficult to iron – better to create that scrunch at the bottom where it is very easy to iron out. Secondly, if I hang clothes outside in the sun, then I hang them inside out to prevent fading; pegging at the waist creates a triangle area of the trouser where the closure part is that fades. This happens, as I’m sure you know, in Brisbane. It’s probably not such a big deal in cooler climes. Last, it dries better because the bulk of fabric is at the waist; where this hangs loose and free it gets more air circulation. The End 🙂

      Reply

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