THE WASHING MACHINE IS the continuously beating heart of the modern home. It’s fed by the laundry basket and in turn feeds the airing cupboard. Actually wearing clothes is the shortest link in the washing cycle.
The wash can be divided into three parts: whites, darks and coloureds. Coloureds are what you get when you accidentally put one dark in with the whites. There are also things called delicates. Men don’t recognise the existence of this group in the wash. Which is why women don’t recognise their delicates after men have done the wash. Some items of clothing require hand washing. These items live at the bottom of the laundry basket and never come out.
Whatever the detergent manufacturers say, whites need to be done at 90°. That’s because whites generally include men’s underpants, which are the ultimate washing challenge. In an ideal world, men’s underpants should be taken out into the back yard and shot. This isn’t a cost effective option, so they have to be boiled several times to get them back to some sort of decency.
Soap now comes in powder, tablets, gel or liquid form, which can then go in the drawer, the wash, the bag or the ball. They all wash whiter than white which actually means off white. Similarly, they all make your wash smell great. Just press the washing to your nose and breathe in the summer flowers. But don’t try this with men’s underpants, even after seven consecutive washings.
You can dry your clothes in a dryer, but this leads to a lot of static electricity. Pulling your nightie on after tumble drying is like being in the middle of an electrical storm and leaves you with a Ken Dodd hairstyle (Google it!) Drying on the line outside is best unless you live in Greymouth, where you actually do the pre-soaking on the line outside. Urban people dry their clothes by draping them over things. That’s why you’ll notice that the t-shirt of your grungy urban male often has the residual shape of a balustrade or heater still in it.
Alternatively, you can use drying racks. These take 14 hours to load up and getting your smalls on the bottom rungs is equivalent to some of the black belt positions in yoga. You can clear the same rack in 14 seconds between the first and second ring of your sophisticated new girlfriend at the door.
In every house there is a sock orphanage where sad little unloved socks live until their partner can be found. Often their partner is never found. That’s because the washing machine demands a ritual sacrifice of one sock per wash to placate its inner workings.
© GUY BROWNING IS AUTHOR OF ‘NEVER PUSH WHEN IT SAYS PULL’ AND CREATOR OF ‘TORTOISE IN LOVE’ (DVD) – USED BY PERMISSION.