Remember a few months ago when I bragged about my cleaning schedule? Well, winter – and its onslaught of long pants, heavy sweaters and pink tights (so many pink tights) – has ruined any domestic progress I may have been making.
I’ve never really thought about it before – perhaps because I’ve never had my laundry under control before. Winter is the worst laundry season at my house.
Did you notice how I said, “at my house”? I debated between that and “in my family.” But the problem isn’t really my husband and daughter. The problem is the weather, the resulting necessary clothing and my house.
I don’t have a laundry room. I have a garage with a washer and dryer in the corner. Despite what our real estate agent suggested about cute shelf paper, matching organizers and basic curtains to cover the storage area, it is not a laundry room. And for many months of the year, it’s not really a problem. Sure, it’s kind of weird to store my unfolded clothes in the same space that my husband stores his tools, mountain bike and charcoal for the grill. But at least it’s on the same level as our bedrooms.
No need for a fancy laundry chute in this tiny ranch! Just walk a few steps down the hall, open a door and hop down one step to get to the “laundry room.”
But when it turns cold, my laundry garage turns into a glorified covered porch. (And not the insulated kind that stays warm with a fake fireplace.)
I knew the sad day had come a few weeks ago when I sent my daughter out to the garage to toss a couple things in the recycling bin. Approximately three seconds after she opened the door to the garage, she screamed and my heart stopped.
“What?!” I yelled, imagining rabid raccoons, shards of glass and serial killers. [Yes. In my garage. Shut up. I have an active imagination.]
It turns out that she’d gone out there with bare feet and the garage floor was cold enough to startle her into screaming like a maniac. [Note to self: Do not assume your four-year-old will remember the rule about no bare feet in the garage.]
Just a couple days after the cold floor incident, I noticed our clothes hamper was overflowing. In the middle of the week. Now, being my usual homemaking genius, I didn’t think much about it that first week. But after a couple weeks of multiple laundry days made necessary by a full hamper just days after Monday-which-is-laundry-day, I realized something had changed.
Granted, pulling pair after pair of work pants out of the dryer and hearing my husband holler, “Do I have any clean long-sleeved t-shirts?” may have clued me in, too.
When the weather turns cold, my husband wears about 3.7 times more clothes to work. He drives a semi, but also works the dock for a few hours in the middle of the night, so it’s understandable. But it also means a whole lot more laundry! Add that to my long-sleeved shirts and sweaters and my daughter’s many pink and purple layers, and we’ve got full hampers all over the place!
But it’s not simply a matter of just doing laundry more often. [Okay, it is. But I’m going to complain and offer excuses for not doing it first.]
Shortly before Annalyn was born, we got a new washer and dryer. Nothing fancy, but they beat the 15-year-old hand-me-down machines we’d gotten from Mark’s parents when we got married. One of the main reasons we wanted to replace our old washer and dryer was the fact that it took our dryer at least two hours – if not longer – to dry one load of clothes.
Sadly, the new dryer has the same problem. I suspect it’s an electrical issue, although our friend (who is an electrician and would know) says that shouldn’t be the case. I’m familiar with the sketchy electrical situation that is our house, though, so I still have my suspicions. And, you know, the evidence of a three-hour drying cycle.
For some reason – and I have no hypothesis for this one, logical or not – the colder it is, the longer the dryer takes to get our clothes dry. So, not only do I have MORE laundry, but getting it done TAKES LONGER!
On top of that, let’s not forget the main issue. Baby, it’s cold outside. My garage is nearly as cold as the outside. And the last thing I want to do is go out there and handle wet laundry or take time to match socks and fold underwear.
Unfortunately – and you might not be surprised to hear this – ignoring my laundry does not make it disappear. And those laundry fairies I keep waiting for? They have not appeared yet! So I’m left trying to figure out how to manage this season of difficult laundry.
First of all, I keep the area in front of the washer and dryer covered with old rugs. Actually, the entire path from door to hanging rack is covered by rugs. (Of course, when our pipes get clogged and the washing machine overflows, those rugs get soaked. But – knock on wood – that hasn’t happened in quite a while.) I also plug in a space heater when it gets real cold. Second of all, I’m trying (trying!) not to let the to-be-folded laundry pile up outside. It’s much more pleasant to fold it on the dining room table than it is to do it on the top of the very cold dryer in the very cold garage.
And third, just to be nice, I’ve been bringing my husband’s hanging clothes into the house much more often. Sure, it shouldn’t be a special treat for him to put warm-out-of-the-closet clothes on after showering instead of cold-out-of-the-garage clothes. But it is. So hanging his clothes where they belong is super nice of me.
Last but not least, I’ve had to abandon my plan for one laundry day a week, and I’ve had to revert to doing about a load a day. It’s not a big deal if I stay on top of the whole folding and putting away thing, but that’s never been a real successful goal for me in the past. But hey, I learned how to [kind of] stick to a cleaning schedule, and that was new for me. Maybe this will be the winter I stay on top of my laundry!
Did I mention that sometimes my dryer shocks me? As in zings me with enough electricity that it actually hurts a bit (not surprises me with its ability to do its job and dry my clothes)? Yeah. It does.
I really shouldn’t complain, though, because that little shock is just enough to warm me up without curling my hair.
Do you have a handle on laundry? Does your family (or your house) have a “bad season” for laundry (or other chores)? And do you fold socks or just toss them in a drawer?
Resources: If you’d like to work on creating your own cleaning schedule, you might try Create Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule from Christine of I Dream of Clean.