After enlightenment, the laundry. ~Zen saying
In our previous life, J. and I did laundry twice a week for a total of 4-5 loads. One day (usually Tuesday) we did the household laundry (sheets and towels), on the other day (usually Friday) we washed our clothes (darks, lights, and delicates). Once a month we washed dog bedding. A few times a year we washed the various throws and blankets.
We now do laundry almost daily.
Even though we have no pets, fewer clothing changes (not working reduces the need for different outfits daily), and haven’t been here long enough to need to wash bedding, we do a lot of laundry. We don’t even have “whites” so our loads don’t need to be segregated. And we wash everything on “delicate”!
We’re not alone, many of the immigrants we talk to report being surprised at how much attention laundry requires. In part this is because the washing machines are smaller so we need to do more loads. Another piece of the puzzle is that most of us dry our laundry on racks or lines rather than in a dryer. There’s only so much you can fit at a time. During the winter, we had to place the rack over a heater if we wanted the clothes to dry that day. (We took our towels and sheets to the lavandaria after washing them at home. It took too long otherwise.)
Doing this much laundry was not something I thought would be a part of my new life, but I must say I don’t mind. I look around at our neighbors and see that its a regular part of their life too. In a way it makes me more like a local, like I truly belong here. Watching them, I learned that you can old your sheets a couple of times before laying them on the rack and they will still dry over the course of the day. That all the small stuff (like socks) are safest if clothespins anchor them to the rack, otherwise a sudden gust of wind can send them over the edge into a neighbors balcony (or the street . . . Not that I know this from personal experience).
We’ve been using Tru Earth laundry strips instead of liquid or powder detergent and we highly recommend them! Our clothes are clean and we have nearly no waste. As a precaution we keep them safe from moisture in a ziploc bag, but that’s the only potential downside. Half of a strip (they come two to a sheet, so a quarter of a full sheet) works for a regular load, and we’d use a full strip if the items were particularly dirty. As a bonus, using less detergent has meant that our clothes don’t dry stiff.
Just sunshine and fresh air. When the summer comes we’ll make sure to dry our dark clothes inside out, or in the shade — the sunshine will bleach everything in short order. (I remember this from my childhood of drying everything on a line.)