Friday, February 24, 2012

Why doing laundry can be scary

I finally have the strength to blog about doing laundry -- yes, I'm actually terrified to sound too cocky about mastering the process when it was so initially daunting.  I thought for a while that blogging about my triumph over the washing machine would result in a magical shrinking of sweaters.  Something akin to laundry karma or like the laundry gods were watching me closely..."just make sure she doesn't choose the wrong soon as she does, we'll have our chance!"

Let me explain.  Laundry in Europe is not the same as it is in America.  I discovered this startling fact when my mom lived in England for 6 months and her washing machine was not only located in her kitchen but only had the limited capacity to wash only 3 socks at a time or 1 pair of jeans -- solo.  Any more than that and you could expect half of your clothes to come out dry.  So I wasn't too surprised when the washing machines held half of the amount of clothes as my American machine.  What I wasn't prepared for was the onslaught of Swedish language on all of the buttons.  DUH!  I'm in Sweden.  Even still -- some American washing machines make it really easy to deduct what settings you are selecting.  They have water drops, numbers or clear symbols to indicate if you're choosing hot hot hot water or cold water.  These Swedish dials are in Celsius (little conversion necessary) but I have no idea what temperature is appropriate for my clothes.  The last thing I want to do is have Jon's red sock bleed onto my white sweater.  Needless to say, I sort and divide my clothes by color and linen type.  Just in case.
so many options!
While the laundry is free (thankfully!) you can't just do your laundry at any time. There are only 3 machines.  There is a fair and equitable system where you put your name on as sign up sheet.  I chose Monday mornings because who likes Mondays anyway?  Besides, all time slots after 4pm were booked so I chose the stay-at-home-mom time of 8am-12pm.  Believe me, all of those hours are well utilized since it takes a near-eternity to dry jeans and towels.

There is a note on the page saying, "Does anyone know how the dryer works?"
We live in a building that is FULL of corporate housing folks and 2 old ladies who are holding onto their properties until they die (keep on keepin' on ladies!) so the laundry room is full of these large white and black laminated posters in multiple languages for the residents.  One would think that this would make laundry easier. Instead it only makes it more confusing.  There are actually instructions for how to drain the washer in case there is a power outage and the system starts to flood.  Do I really need that level of detail? Take a look.  There are about 10 of these posters on the wall.  I spent a good hour just reading on my first Monday.

Dryer instructions
My experience with the laundry the first time took 3 times as long as it should have.  This is probably because the dryer was out of order and I had to dry our clothes with this drying machine that is like an indoor electric clothesline.  I also spent a ton of time reading, interpreting and converting Celsius to Fahrenheit.
"I'll turn your clothes into dry flat discs that will scratch your skin for eternity!"
Fortunately, the second time I did laundry, the dryer was operational again so I only put our socks into this line-dry thingy.  Things went much smoother the second and third times around.

I have yet to shrink anything essential or dye any of the pillowcases so I think I'm starting to game the system.  I can't call it a complete success because the whole process involves me schlepping a HUGE bag of laundry, Calvin in his Ergo carrier and a box of laundry soap down 5 flights of stairs into the basement.  It will be the bane of my Mondays but who likes Mondays anyway?

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