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How I won the Laundry Wars

Laurie Nigro
How I won the Laundry Wars

Hello, my name is Laurie and I’m a shopaholic. It’s been zero days since my last shopping trip. At last count, I had 47 dresses. However, I am in no way apologetic for this weakness. As a matter of fact, I am usually quite proud of it because I am a thrift store shopper. I almost never pay more than $10 for pretty much anything (just ask me about anything that I’m wearing. I WILL tell you how little I paid. Every time.) Which explains the 47 dresses. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

The problem I have with my penchant for purchasing is twofold. First, I passed it onto my youngest child. She currently has two dressers, one and a half closets, an armoire and various other hideaways, filled with clothing of all types and sizes. Which leads to the second part, when one family has enough clothing to dress a small village, you start to develop some laundry issues. Like, there’s too much of it. Because laundry never takes a day off. My people are constantly wearing clothes. It’s exhausting.

The problem is compounded by the fact that I have a very small washing machine. When it broke the first time — because there have been many, many times — the repairman asked me if it was my only washer. Really? My house is not much bigger than a glorified shed. Where did he think I was hiding another washer?

I suppose, in his defense, at one time my washer was in my basement. But my house is from the 1930s. I’m lucky to have a cement floor down there. When we first moved in, I had to climb down the narrow, winding staircase that we’ve affectionately named the “death stairs,” with my toddler on one hip and a laundry basket on the other. I kept a playpen near the washer because there was no way I wanted my baby coming in contact with the floor and all of the heebie-jeebies thereon. And still, on more than one occasion, while trying to place him inside, I startled a spider cricket, sending all of us into a round of hysterical screaming. Seriously, have you ever seen one of those things? It looks like a freaking tarantula. And it jumps — really high and really far.

Another downside to basement laundry is the basement itself. Nothing feels clean when you’re in the basement. And it is inevitable that when transferring laundry, something will fall to the floor. It is then instantly dirty again. Whether it just came from the dryer or was still wet from the washer, it went directly back to the dirty laundry pile. Unfortunately, this happened more often than I liked. Because my child hated the pack and play and screamed the entire time, making me jumpy and hasty. He felt certain this device was designed to keep him from his rightful place, inside the 75-year-old opening in the chimney that is surely a home for trolls and other murderous creatures.

Did I mention we used cloth diapers? There was way too much time spent in the basement.

The final straw for death laundry came when I was pregnant with my second child and on strict bed rest. I wasn’t even allowed to sit upright. I was, however, blessed with the most amazing family ever and both of my sisters and my mother provided me and my soon-to-be-big-brother-toddler with round-the-clock care. During one of my mother’s trips into the basement, she left the door open so I could guide her through the joys of washing cloth diapers. That’s when my kid decided he wanted to help grandma (or, more likely, get into the troll hole) and instead, went head first down the death stairs. Though I flew off the couch, I only succeeded in watching his head hit the cement landing, bounce, hit the cinder block wall, and then tumble down the last two concrete steps.

Amazingly, he walked away more scared than injured. My mother and I did not take it as well and I immediately began searching for alternate locations for our washer and dryer. In the end, I sacrificed my bathroom closet. It seemed the most logical choice. Actually, it was the only choice. Remember, I live in a glorified shed.

After much searching and measuring, I found one laundry set that would fit inside my little closet. Of course, because they are rare and “specialty” items, the cost was ridiculous. And that didn’t include the plumbing work that needed to be done (by a company that left a box cutter on the toilet at the end of the day and, when I complained, told me I should stay out of their work area. Umm, stay out of my only bathroom? Sure. I’ll just use my non-existent outhouse next time.) So it only stands to reason that the first repair was needed inside 11 months.

Just getting someone who would work on my uncommon machine was a chore. How hard can this be? I mean, are washing machines really that different? They use water and spin in a circle, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. I feel like the skill set needed to fix such an item shouldn’t be that diverse. Whatever. Clearly I was wrong (and washing machine repair people everywhere are calling me an ignorant and insulting witch.)

I finally got someone in the house and we established that yes, this was my only washing machine.

“This is an old lady washer.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s not meant to keep up with a family.”

“It doesn’t note that in the manual.”

“I’ll fix it, but it’s going to break again. You should get a bigger washer.”

Thanks for those words of wisdom. Because I’m in love with the idea of having a machine that will bring your cheerful face back into my life on a regular basis.

But when it comes down to it and I have to choose between grumpy, snide, Captain Obvious repairman and terrifying insects whose besties are killer trolls, I’m taking the former, every time.

We’re on our second washer now and I’m sure its life is limited. My husband often rues the day I convinced him to move the whole operation. I often rue the day I didn’t make him do all the basement laundry. If the trolls didn’t have him seeing my way, the first time he stumbled with a bucket full of dirty diapers, he surely would have. There’s nothing quite like it.

To keep your laundry smelling fantastic, even if it’s full of diapers, try making your own scented laundry booster. Cleanmama.net has a super easy and effective recipe that will give your wash a subtle, clean, non-diaper smell.

Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.

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