How do we wash our clothes?

We wash our clothes expensively, that’s how!  At the moment I’m ready to try beating my clothes against a rock in the river.

It was still as dark outside as my six o’clock mug of coffee when I heard an annoying high pitched beep.  Every three minutes the sound interrupted my morning solitude.  None of the usual culprits was guilty, not my tinnitus-affected ears, nor cell phone, dishwasher, or microwave. The beep came from the laundry room.  My washer’s control panel was lit up like the instrument panel on an airplane. The machine was frozen on “Express,” a setting I’d never used in 15 years, and I hadn’t done any laundry in three days. The darn thing wouldn’t run, nor would “stop” make the lights go off.

I pulled the plug.

When the rest of the world woke up I placed a mayday call to Dan, the repair superman I found several years ago. Dan can fix any major home appliance. He came as soon as he could, carefully performed a number of tests, then shook his head sadly. My washer had spun out for the last time. A new printed circuit board and power supply would cost more than three hundred dollars, labor not included. I could buy a new washer for that. The dryer still worked, though barely. The rational me said, “No new dryer” — I hang most things outside to dry in the sun or, during bad weather, in the basement — but the fussy me whispered, “Matchy, matchy.”

After a quick recce to “kick the tires” on what I thought would be my pick, I came home and logged in to Consumer Reports. Should have done that first of course.

Oh my.

I spent hours comparing features and benefits.  No, I do not want to communicate with my laundry while I’m playing canasta with my friends.  No, I do not want a dryer with steam option that would necessitate a water line to an appliance that is supposed to be drying my clothes.  Maybe that’s a good thing, but it seems counterintuitive to me.  I’m just sayin’.

Some of the newest washday appliances will let you link to the manufacturer via an app on your smart phone. You can select your equipment’s symptoms and get a diagnosis before the repairman comes.  Not only that, you can phone your washer to check on the status of your delicates while you’re visiting the in-laws.

Just what I need! Another set of commands to learn, more passwords to forget, oh, and a smart phone to buy. Note to Maytag, GE, Whirlpool, Samsung et al:  I’m doing laundry here, not launching a submarine! When someone invents a machine that moves the washed clothes into the dryer, and a dryer that matches socks, folds towels, and puts everything away…then we’ll talk.

Satisfied with my choice at last, I clicked on “user comments.”  Some were enthusiastic, but most were not suitable for a G-rated blog!  I’d spent a gorgeous autumn weekend researching laundry appliances, and I was no further ahead than when I’d started.

And the laundry hamper overflowed.

Oh yes! Cost!  That printed circuit board/power supply replacement suddenly seemed a bargain.  Some of the highest end appliances cost more than six thousand dollars for a washer/dryer combo.  My first car didn’t cost even half that much.

Who needs a “smart” washer?  I’m a smart washer.

I’ll get my DublHandi washboard out. These primitive “appliances,” first manufactured in 1938, are “ideal for silks, hosiery and lingerie or handkerchiefs.”  Plus, at 8.5″ x 18″ they’re “just the right size to fit a bucket, pail or lavatory.” They “pack easily into suitcase or traveling bag” too. What’s not to love?

FYI, DublHandi washboards are still manufactured in Logan, Ohio. They sell for about twenty-three bucks.  If you’re interested in a cost effective option to a smart washer, here’s some nitty gritty info:

http://www.columbuswashboard.com/dubl-handi-pail-size-galvanized-spiral-washboard

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/05/us/05land.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

6 thoughts on “How do we wash our clothes?

  1. Ha ha ha ha! I love this post Judy 🙂 You have me smiling on this foggy Friday morning (not a good day for hanging laundry yet). Thank you for your injection of lighthearted fun in my day. My favorite line: “Who needs a ‘smart’ washer? I’m a smart washer.” Are all these “smart” things supposed to make our lives easier? Because they sure don’t make them simpler.

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    • Amen to that! My mom used a wringer washer her whole life. Her biggest problem was keeping me from scalping myself when I tried to put my braids through the wringers.

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  2. Really funny and so true! I’m also waiting for the one that washes, dries, folds and puts away! To go really far into the past, we used to have to run out and grab sheets etc off the line when the Steam Engine trains came through town so the wet clothes didn’t get covered with soot!! Cj

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  3. And our 23 year old set keeps on chugging along…although the inside rim is held together with gorilla glue tape!! They just don’t make them like they used to, eh Judith!!

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