My 12-year-old daughter had an assignment for her home economics class that required her to do two loads of laundry from start to finish, and have a parent rate each step on a scale from one to five.
Overseeing Daisy’s eight steps of homework made me realize I’m lazy at laundry, and I’ve been doing it all wrong.
First on the list was sorting piles, checking labels, emptying pockets and choosing which loads to wash first. Normally, I do none of that. My idea of sorting is dumping all the towels on the ground and throwing the rest in the washing machine until it’s full, but not so full it will break.
Second entailed going through the clothes to look for stains, and pre-treat or soak wherever needed. Pre-treat and soak with what I wondered? There used to be a bottle of Spray ’N Wash on the shelf, but someone must have used it because it hasn’t been there for ages.
Third was selecting the water temperature and level, and adjusting the size setting, so no water would be wasted on a small load of wash. I can’t even fathom a small load of wash. Not since I had children, anyway. Also mentioned was the task of separating darks from lights. I do remember doing that once upon a time. I’m not sure why or when that stopped, but I don’t recall noticing a difference in the results.
Fourth was instructions about measuring detergent. That reminded me of the time when I was a kid and I put in way too much powder and the laundry soap started overflowing out the top and sides of the machine and all over the floor, filling up the room so high I had bubbles up to my neck. Or that might have been an episode of Brady Bunch. It’s all a blur.
Fifth was about loading clothes with the right side out, unless Daisy was wanting to protect a print design. Normally, I do not give this any thought whatsoever. I scoop out the contents of the hamper, throw it into the machine, put in the Tide gel pod, turn it on at the largest load setting and leave. At some point I will remember to take the wet clothes out – hopefully before it smells weird.
Sixth was adding fabric softener – either to the washer or dryer.
I’ve never used the liquid kind, but I often use a fabric softener sheet.
I ran out a couple months ago and miss them enough to think about adding them to the shopping list, but not enough to actually write it down so they’re remembered once I get to the store.
Seventh said to dry the laundry as soon as the wash was finished, and to shake the clothes out before putting them in the dryer, apparently that makes them dry faster with fewer wrinkles. If only I could do that to my face.
Eighth was the last on the list and instructed Daisy to fold or hang the clothes as soon as they’re dry to avoid wrinkling.
My strategy has always been to throw the entire load into an empty hamper and wait until a few more hampers are full of clean clothes that everyone can rummage around in for days looking for whatever specific item they’re wanting. I recognize that immediately folding, hanging and putting the clothes where they belong is another way to go.
I gave Daisy an outstanding grade because she’s far better at this laundry thing than I am. She even remembered to empty the lint collector before using the dryer.
I think it’s time to pass the torch from the lazy laundress to the livelier one, and I look forward to her next home economics assignment.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com