Airing dirty laundry

September 25th, 2007

I once wrote a post titled “Hand wash cold.” That post generates more traffic than any snake oil in the blogosphere. It snares Googlers from Portugal to Peru, from Little Rock to Lichtenstein. These searchers come from the very places where garments that need to be hand washed cold are actually manufactured. I feel bad for these suds seekers, because they aren’t looking for anything loftier than laundering instructions. So I decided to give them what they came for. In the process, I realized that this is a zen meditation of its own kind.

1. Wipe the shaving stubble from a sink or rinse the motor oil from a pail.
2. Fill same with cold water.
3. Add a drizzle of gentle (read: expensive) laundry detergent or a spritz of dishwashing liquid to the water. Note: can also use bar soap, hand soap or no soap.
4. Slosh the water around to conjure up a few bubbles.
5. Submerge subject garment in water.
6. Let it sit.
7. Hours–or even days–later, remember.
8. Rinse it in clear, cold water. This special item is probably not the kind of thing that can survive twisting or wringing or even washing for that matter.
9. Which means that when you take it out you’ll have to hang it up over the bathtub to let the water drip out of it.
10. And that will probably cause the fabric dye to drip out of it too, creating streaks of variable density and lasting annoyance. Remember too late that the garment had some kind of warning about this too.
11. When it dries, the item will be six inches longer than when you purchased it. Or six inches shorter. Or six inches longer on one side; six inches shorter on the other.
12. You might wish that you had laid it flat to dry, which would take so long that it mildewed before you could wear it again.

All of this effort will allow you to wear the item once before you resolve to (a) never buy anything else that has to be hand washed cold, or (b) never wash it, thereby transcending all questions and eliminating all doubt.


  1. Brilliant.

    Comment by bella — September 25, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

  2. Hehehe! I’m terrible–I just toss hand-wash only items in my washer and dryer. They’ll never look the same again no matter what, so I try to avoid the stress. (As a mother of a 2 yr old and due soon with another, I shouldn’t be owning hand wash only items anyway, lol.)

    Comment by Momma_Phoenix — September 25, 2007 @ 4:28 pm

  3. Exactly!

    Comment by Mama Zen — September 25, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

  4. oh that is so true!

    Comment by Wendy — September 25, 2007 @ 5:53 pm

  5. This just made my day. My week. Maybe even my year.

    Thank you, thank you.

    Comment by Lisa — September 26, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  6. And, exactly what surface is appropriate for drying flat and still allowing it to dry? I just don’t see where in any of my houses I’ve had a flat spot that doesn’t cause wrinkles, and still lets the garment “air dry.”

    But, I did recently hand wash some things that had been sitting since last fall … so I know what you mean about it being a meditation. I also enjoyed having these things finally clean. For once.

    Comment by Shawn — September 28, 2007 @ 12:55 pm

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