Monday, May 17, 2010

Thoughts on Laundry

Before we had the great flood and had to cut our water usage to a minimum, I was beginning my summer roll out of air drying the clothes. I recently was reading an online discussion on clothes washing and discovered that although I make sure our clothes and other laundry get washed, that's not enough. Doing it my way is apparently the lowest form of grossness according to a large part of the population.

What is my way? You might well ask. My laundry system is very simple. If dirty things are light colored or white they go in one pile. If they are dark they go in another. I don't consider permanent press, delicates or any other such issues. In the summer I sort towels out separately, so I can dry them in the dryer whilst everything else gets hung outside -- and that's simply because I don't like scratchy towels. I squirt stain remover on stains, throw a whole pile of clothes in until I can stuff no more into my front loader and wash everything on cold. If the load is stinky, I add some white vinegar.

But apparently this simple system skeeves a lot of folks who are highly germophobic. Underwear and towels need to be washed in bleach and hot water on a sanitary cycle (my washer has no such cycle). Kitchen towels need to be washed alone. And even then, the truly germophobic are concerned that maybe hot water, bleach and extra sanitizing isn't getting their stuff clean enough.

I've read articles about the astronomical germ count in washing machines, but frankly, I cant get too worked up about it. Our clothes seem fairly clean and we haven't died from anything yet. Considering all the concern other folks have about people being too clean and no longer eating their pound of dirt, and considering the fact that I don't have to boil my clothes and run them over a scrub board, I'll take my method and my icky, germ-laden laundry.

Who knew laundry could be fraught with so many problems? I'm just glad when we aren't drowning in either things to be washed or things to be put away. I'm not going to fuss about the pre-sorting, germ thing. What about you?


Diane said...

I'm with you. And a few germs are good for you, in terms of keeping your immune system functioning. Every so often I run a hot water cycle with just the hot water and a cup or so of bleach, just to clean out the washer. No need to be obsessive (do these people not have lives?)

Robbo said...

What the heck is a "sanitary" cycle?

These are the same people who turn out the hot-house kiddies with the killer allergies to every substance on the planet

Jordana said...

Robbo, my washer is 10 or so years old. It doesn't have fancy pants settings like "sanitary." I always thought washing was how things got sanitary and that too much hot water was bad for fabrics.

Diane, if something white is in need of a good bleaching, not that anything in this house *ever* gets stained, that's when I run hot water and bleach. I also figure the white vinegar helps keep the washing machine clean enough.

Ellen said...

I'm with you too. My laundry routine is all about the path of least resistance...

Anonymous said...

Truthfully, I have to admit having become fussier about how I do laundry. I'm not exactly sure why this is so.

I do wash "kitchen" laundry (towels, placements, tablecloths, napkins) separately from other things. I wouldn't say that I'm germ-phobic (as a look at the State of My House Right Now would ratify; it is being sacrificed to the gods of the BA), but I was raised never to put down a hairbrush or comb on the kitchen counter.

And the "dirty dirties", like the pads for my floor steamer, get washed separately, too. And, OK, while we're at it, I do use hot water and bleach on cotton whites.

BUT my washer, which is about the same vintage as yours, doesn't have a sanitizing cycle. I'm more intrigued than I'd like to admit at that possibility, but in general hot water and bleach doesn't seem good for colors.

I've never really thought of myself as a laundry fusspot before now, but maybe I am. My methods just seemed common-sensical to me, though I've never really thought about them. I haven't thought it had anything to do with being germ-phobic, but maybe it does.

Anyway, by my method the washer is still full for each load and it isn't a big project to keep things in separate baskets (or piles on the floor, as at present). To me, whatever seems more or less sensible to people is what they should do. Telling other people that their towels aren't actually clean: well, not so much. I don't live their lives and they don't live mine :)

Blair said...

I follow your general practice myself. Though I don't usually hang things outside... too many homeless still think our house is their laundry facilities thanks to the previous owner.
The only interesting thing about my washing set up is that I water my back yard oleanders when I do laundry.

Sarah said...

I'm with you. I have lights and I have darks. Occasionally I toss in a blue shirt with the whites to brighten them.

I do however use hot water on the lights- mostly because that kills the dust mites in bed linens and I do have issues with those.

Sadly we can't hang out our laundry to dry because of the wicked pollen counts around here and seasonal allergies,

Bronwyn said...

Add me to the list of gross folks. Although, if I've had a particularly gross day at the hospital, I will wash the scrubs separately, but otherwise, if it's light, it all goes together and same for darks.

Anonymous said...

I've been washing incorrectly for over 30 years! But I haven't killed anyone yet with germs. One thing I do prefer though is to hang the washing outside, especially as sunlight is said to be sanitising. But I do live in Queensland, Australia, where sun is plentiful, if not fade inducing.

mrsdarwin said...

My washer has two settings, gentle and whites. (The colors cycle is broken and will spin and spin for hours left untended.) I recently read an article in the WSJ which said that it's not the amount or kind of detergent that lifts dirt from your clothes, so much as the agitation of the machine. So that's good to know.

We bleach kitchen towels (though that probably has more to do with the dirtiness level of our kitchen rather than our laundry preferences), but we're pretty laissez-faire about everything else. Hey, if the laundry gets done I feel like I've accomplished something.

Michelle Smiles said...

Lights. Darks. And every 6 weeks or so a load of whites to be bleached. I'm lucky to get the laundry done let alone worrying about my machine not being clean enough or my underwear touching my tshirts.

Kim said...

I wash all our clothes in cold water and wondered about the germ factor, originally. But after a long run in the dryer I figure any germs that survived the washer are long dead by the time I pull them out of the dryer. I imagine the sun has the same effect when drying them outside. I usually only bleach when the whites get really dirty and I only add baking soda when things are really shmelly, like scout camp clothes (the worst!). Nobody sick from my methods yet! lol There are just too many dirty clothes coming through my laundry room for me to spend time worrying about the germ count issue.

Kim said...

Oh, forgot to mention that I learned that the hottest water from our water heater isn't hot enough to kill germs. So I figured I might as well use cold and save some money!

VanderbiltWife said...

Oh my. I "sanitize" cloth diapers by running them on hot, but nothing else deserves that high-money setting! LOL. If it goes through with detergent, it's clean. Right?

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