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Scattered Mindfulness Rant about Laundry

I was just thinking this evening about how much I love laundry.  I just love it!  It’s funny, because I hear people complain at great, great, great length about how much they hate laundry.  I used to try to talk to people, to communicate how I feel about laundry, but as it turns out, people who complain generally don’t want a solution to their problem, they just want sympathy.

As usual, Jacob at earlyretirementextreme.com has posted about laundry and said it better than I ever could.  He says:

When my mom was a kid, they had something called school clothes and play clothes. School clothes had to be kept clean and play clothes was something one changed into after school. The washing machine is sometimes said to be the factor of the 20th century that liberated women. I do think though, that the maxim that a task expands to fill the available time holds here too. Thus once laundry got faster we simply started doing more of it.

All that washing wears the clothes out. It is obvious from the accumulating lint that drying wears the clothes down. This is why we line dry. However, clothes fibers also leave with the water. To prevent this, wash less often by changing clothes appropriately. I change clothes 2-3 times a day.

Here’s my schedule (subject to the “sniff test”)

  • Underwear and socks – 1 day.
  • T-shirts – 1-2 days depending on whether I got sweaty.
  • Pants and sweaters – 5-7 days, unless dirty.
  • Wool things – 7-14 days but gets aired daily.

We only do full loads, one cold and one warm. I have about as much clothes as to have run out of clothes once I can do a full load. This means that my wardrobe is intentionally matched to the laundry cycle. There’s really no reason to have more clothes than that.

I think his post is beautiful in many ways.  I love how he has matched his wardrobe to his laundry cycle.  I’ve made great strides in reducing my wardrobe, but I obviously have a long way to go.

I also love the idea that “once laundry got easier to do we simply started doing more of it.”  Laundry is just like life- every time technology makes things a little easier, we take steps to make it not as easy.  The answer isn’t more technology, the answer is stoicism,  equanimity, mindfulness, blah blah blah 🙂

That wasn’t actually the point.  The point I was trying to make is that modern laundry machines just fascinates me.  I have adopted a schedule kind of like Jacob’s above for washing various clothes, PLUS have been much more active in the last year or two with hot yoga and other sweaty activities.

Therefore, when I put laundry in (particularly with hot yoga stuff mixed in) it NEEDS washing.  I feel it, I look at it, and consider how much I wouldn’t want to wear it.  Then, I wash it, dry it, and it’s magically soft and pliable and pleasant and delightful.  I bet if we showed people from 100 years ago what modern laundry machines would do, they would be amazed- more than cars, more than computers, more than anything.

I stopped folding almost all my clothes a couple years ago, so I don’t have any unpleasant hangover of folding worry/guilt.  I enjoy putting it away, because it only takes about a minute and then my drawers are filled with wonderful, clean laundry!

Even if we were to downsize to a much smaller place, I’d be happy to hang dry (want to do that anyway) but I would be loathe to give up the clothes washing machine.

I love it!

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This is part of a meditation I was doing on mindfulness.  It’s all true- but I probably wouldn’t write this much about it normally…  I do love clean laundry though.

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