Airing Our Laundry

Getting the laundry done is like achieving world peace — it’s never going to happen. Sorry, was that a total bummer? Well, somebody had to tell you. I “only” have one child. There are “only” three people in our home. We are buried in laundry. If I had another child, I’d lose it in a pile of towels. I don’t understand how larger families deal.

Well, yes I do. It’s called delegating. I am one of four children. When we were tall enough to reach the top of the washing machine, our mom taught us how to use it. We were then in charge of our own laundry. I remember it seeming like a cool, grown-up thing to do. Have I mentioned my mother is brilliant? But even with everyone in charge of their own Tide, so to speak, our laundry room was overflowing with 100-percent cotton, the machines always running and underwear, etc. in short supply.

Not even half the battle: This dramatic laundry photo shows only a third of Sunday's washing.

In my miniature-by-comparison family, the two people who don’t routinely do laundry are constantly asking where things are–because apparently the entirety of clothing is my jurisdiction. You know, seeing as how I majored in stain removal and all*. Where are my jeans. Unwrinkled shirts. Pink dress. Blue ruffle socks. Not those ones, the other ones. You want to know where they are? IN THE LAUNDRY. It’s all. Always. In. The laundry. For one miraculous day it makes it out and onto your body, then you spill ketchup on it and it’s back IN THE LAUNDRY. And I get to wash it. Again.

When Sally was a newborn I washed everything the instant it was soiled in any way. It makes me laugh to think about that. Eventually I moved to a 2:4 ratio system–item must be soiled with at least two of four offensive substances before washing will occur: urine, drool, barf or food. Poop was an automatic washing. Well, unless it was only a little bit. We’re past those days now, but the DIRT. Sally comes home covered in a layer of fine dust, with trails of what appears to be mud and juice running down her pants, and strawberry or mac&cheese stains on her shirt. She’s gross. And she’s a pretty tidy kid.

I’m not going to talk about how Mr. Embee’s socks breed like rabbits all over the house because I really don’t want to embarrass him.

Sometimes things go missing. Socks and pajamas, mostly, but also formal wear. Sometimes before company comes over I throw all the laundry into a closet, then forget about it for weeks, then can’t remember which piles were clean or dirty, so I wash it all again only to find out that Sally outgrew the entire load while it languished in darkness.

Today I pulled a black cardigan sweater out of the dirty laundry and wore it again. It smelled vaguely of spaghetti sauce, but there honestly wasn’t a better option. I own other black sweaters (a staple) but I can’t find them. Presumably they are in the laundry or suffocating in a closet.

Recently I went to wash one of Sally’s dresses. It was the first washing, so I read the label for good measure: dry clean only. Are you kidding me?! I go to the cleaners precisely once per year, to have Mr. Embee’s tux cleaned (because we do actually have an annual black tie affair, but that’s another story). I am NOT paying $8 to dry clean a hand-towel-sized dress whose owner wipes boogers on her clothes when she thinks nobody is looking. Not doing it. I wished the dress good luck and threw it in with the rest of the lights.

You’ll have to excuse me now. There’s laundry to be done.

* = When we were voting, I said I was not opposed to laundry. Mr. Embee got garbage duty. I’m far happier folding T-shirts than breaking down cardboard boxes and dealing with compost bins. Still, I like to complain. If nobody complained there wouldn’t be any blogs. See? I’m helping!


8 responses to “Airing Our Laundry

  1. Uggg… I totally feel your pain! I have 4 kids and it seems the big one (my husband) produces more laundry that the rest of us put together. My threshold for when an item of clothing actually needs to make it to the hamper has definitely relaxed a bit over time.

    Don’t get too close to us if you have a sensitive sniffer, lol.

  2. Love it . Thanks you made we laugh

  3. middleagedcrazywoman


    Ohmygawd – you sound like me!! Only funnier!!

    Isn’t amazing how they grow out of clothes so fast!?! I keep waiting for that to slow a bit but no, if a shirt goes missing for a month it’s probably not going to fit for a while.

    And laundry multiples in the dark!

    Don’t even get me started about socks…


  4. I often Febreze myself……it cuts the wash down and I smell better after. My friends new baby spit up on me today(new born) and looked on in horror as I”rubbed it in” thats whyI wear dark clothes.
    Also side note (Making any kids clothes dry clean only should be illegal!)

  5. Standard washing machines DO NOT wash puke out of sheets. Unless you spray them with Preen, soak them overnight in Napisan, srub them with Sard soap, and THEN put them through a heavy duty, hot wash cycle with a double dose of Borax and vinegar.

    It is much easier to boil the stupid things.

    Or buy new sheets.

    I have four young’uns. Guess what I do?

    • Okay, that sounds awful. I have a remarkably unbarfy child (though I remember some barf staining the sheets when she was a baby). Will keep in mind though, when it does happen, we’ll just burn them!

  6. So true! This is one of the categories where “throw money at it” is seeming more attractive by the day. We already outsourced housecleaning (we drew straws and no one wants to scrub the toilet). Some things are needed to keep your marriage going and your mind sane.

  7. One more thing to love about summertime…

    Swim trunks every day! No underwear! No socks!

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