Monday, November 03, 2003

A New Theory of Laundry: I have, in the past, been subject to no small amount of ridicule for my method of doing laundry. People tend to get all freaky if you don't separate whites from colors. Well, in reality, whenever I have seen people do this I have been confused. It's not actually pure whites they are separating from colors. The definition of "white" can vary to include white-ish, really-light-colors, and mostly-white-but-with-colorful-patterns. This, to me, exposes the arbitrary nature of laundry segregation and, frankly, puts the entire theory under suspicion.

We are told that whites, by whatever definition, must be washed in hot water, separately, or they will come out "dingy". I don't really understand why that is the case; I expect the chemistry behind it is debatable. But the fact of the matter is, the only clothes I have that are truly white are my underwear. Let me state for the record that the day I become concerned about the albedo of my underwear is the day you have my permission to call the Cuckoo's Nest and set me up next door to Jack Nicholson.

And let's not even start on fabric softener. The purpose of fabric softener is to remove static cling. Exactly what does that have to do with softness? Besides, fabric softener does this by covering your clothes with an extremely thin chemical film. If you think the greedy chemical companies aren't in bed with the military-industrial complex and using this thin chemical film to perform bio-weapon experiments on the unsuspecting population, then you haven't been reading the web closely enough.

No, my friends, as usual I am not bound by traditional thinking and conventional wisdom. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I cannot blindly accept the standard precepts of laundry dogma. I must question. I must contradict. I must agitate (so to speak).

Here's what you do. First, wash everything in cold water. Any self-respecting laundry detergent is valid to use in any temperature of water (they all say "all-temperature" on the box, and cold is a temperature) so it makes no sense waste energy and money heating the water. You will be grateful the first time you decide to shower while the washing machine is going.

Second, separate clothes not by color, but by weight and texture. Jeans, corduroys, thick towels, etc. go in one load; shirts, shorts, socks, unmentionables in another. The reason for this is two-fold. 1) These two groups tend to have very different drying times. By grouping them together you don't have to constantly get up, open the dryer, and remove the dry stuff from the stuff that is still damp, thereby allowing you to remain slouched on the couch for that much longer. 2) I cannot imagine it is good for your thin cotton t-shirts to be commingled with you heavy denim pants. The constant tumbling of the light shirt against the coarse denim has got to be like rubbing it with sandpaper. This means your clothes will last longer. (For you guys, that means your girlfriend will have to let up on you about wearing torn and beat-up clothes all the time and stop trying to drag you to the Gap. You can thank me later.)

So there you have it; a soundly reasoned and flawlessly logical approach to laundry. I am not close-minded, though. I am willing to entertain conflicting theories, but they must be well thought out and argued on the basis of something other than what "everybody knows".

And no fair pointing out that I am a bachelor and therefore incapable of understanding.