Here’s a fun fact about parenthood: you become insufferably tyrannical about the correct way to perform routine household tasks. For me, that crucial task is washing.
I cook by rote and clean on instinct, but when it comes to washing, I am prone to being ridiculously particular and righteous.
“Leaving wet clothes on the line is gross”
Not an attractive combination, but a fact nevertheless. For example, I saw a meme the other day of a man next to a pile of washing sitting next to a clothes dryer looking perplexed.
“Not sure if it’s wet or dry. Better leave it on the line I guess.”
It made me ROFL and then recoil a bit. Actually, I recoiled a lot.
Leaving wet clothes on the line is gross – unless they are completely soaked through. If they are partially wet, you bring them in and hang them on the clothes hoist. If they smell, you wash them again. It’s just what you do.
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At least that is one of my washing rules. And to test my theory I did some research* to find out just what else simply MUST be obeyed when it comes to laundry.
Here are eight absolute must-dos according to a bunch of very busy mums that I know. Who, by their own admissions, never used to give a toss about how the washing was done before they had kids.
Oh, how times have changed. Here’s what they said:
1. It matters how your detergent smells
“Look, I don’t want to talk myself up here but I have had compliments on the way my clothes smell. And at the risk of looking like someone with a lot of time on her hands, I’ve got to tell you that made me very happy. I am very fussy about washing powder. Extremely fussy. I only buy one brand. I use a quarter of a cupful per load for clothes, and for sheets and towels I always throw in a tiny capful of eucalyptus wool wash. The eco brand one. It costs around $2 a bottle and it really gives something to your sheets and towels. You’re welcome.”
2. Washing is only ever hung outside during the day. Never at night
“I once read an old Chinese proverb that said hanging washing outside at night brings bad luck. But I don’t know if that is 100 percent true. The biggest reason for not wanting to hang clothes out at night time is because they lose their nice clean, washing detergent smell.”
3. Always put the wash on at night
“It took the arrival of my second son to confirm this as a must-do for me when it comes to washing. It saves time, saves me overfilling the tub and saves a rush to remember to do this in the morning with the four hundred other tasks required before going to work each day. It also prevents other household members from requesting last minute items be washed. ‘I’ve already put on the wash,’ is your firm reply.”
4. Cold wash only
“I have never, ever used a hot wash. I don’t understand why you need to. And as someone with a very small hot water tank, particularly in winter, I am telling you that dial will never be turned all the way to the hot cycle.”
5. Clothes still wet by nightfall? Take them off now
“Repeat after me: take the clothes off the line immediately, rewash the stinky things and hang the rest on the hills hoist. Do. Not. Leave. On. The. Line. Caveat: The only exception to this rule is when the clothes are completely soaking. If that’s the case, fetch them all when you get up in the morning and rewash the lot.”
6. Sun dry, sun dry, sun dry
“Dryer be gone! They are noisy, too warm, take up space, are expensive to run and bloody terrible for the environment. The sun also sucks the living daylights out of any stain. So yes, give me a clothesline any day. NB: Invest in the largest clothes hoist you can a) assemble, and b) fit in your place.”
7. When hanging on the line, the order must be observed
“Socks must be hung on the line in pairs and everything goes up in order: t-shirts, jumpers, pants, undies, then socks last. And a line for each person is ideal. This allows you to take all the clothes back off the line, into the basket and drawers quickly and leaves you with an empty basket. Voila!”
8. Clothes off the line must also follow the appropriate order
“Ahem … hang the washing up in groups – a line for every person. Put back in the basket (folded, obvs) in the order that it will be put away based on which rooms you pass first upon entering the home. By the time you get to the last room, the laundry basket is empty!”
*I Facebook messaged my mum’s group which is an endless source of excellent advice.