Tuesday, February 17, 2004

My Washer Is Part Paper Shredder

Back Article published Feb 17, 2004

At the moment, I’m wearing a gray fleece shirt with white dots all over it. The dots didn’t come with the shirt, however. They are 5,000 pieces of lint.

I don’t know if it’s my washing machine or if I need to take a course called “Clothes Washing for Dummies,” but my laundry has been looking mighty strange lately. In fact, I’m at the point where I think going down to the river and beating my clothes against the rocks would make them look better than my washer does.

For one thing, when I bought this washer two years ago, I thought it was pretty strange that when I asked the clerk where the lint trap was, he said there was no such thing.

Every other washer I’ve owned, there always was a place where wayward lint would gather, and I’d clean it out regularly. But with this washer, the lint is going to places unknown. And that worries me. I know it’s just lurking in there somewhere, growing larger and larger until when I least expect it, it will explode all over my wash…when I’m washing dark colors, of course.

Another weird thing about this washer is that even on the most delicate cycle, it turns everything inside out. This totally mystifies my husband.

“How does it do that?” he asks every week, holding up his inside-out undershirts. “You think that maybe if we try turning the clothes inside out before they go into the washer, they’ll come out the right way?”

It sounded logical, so I tried it. It didn’t work. The only explanation is that the washer hates me.

Take, for example, a few weeks ago. My mother and I went shopping and found some gorgeous chenille sweaters on sale. I bought one in light blue and she bought one in pale green. I wore the sweater and loved it. In fact, I loved it so much, I didn’t dare wash it. Finally, when I couldn’t wear it any longer unless I sprayed it with an entire bottle of Febreze, I closed my eyes, held my breath, and dropped it into the washer. I turned the dial to the “delicate” cycle and prayed.

In retrospect, I guess I probably should just have washed the sweater by hand, but I figured that wringing it out afterwards would be more damaging than putting it into the washer.

I figured wrong.

When I took the sweater out of the washer (and I am telling the absolute truth here) it looked as if it had been attacked with an ice pick. I immediately called my mother.

“Are you sure it wasn’t moths?” she asked. “Sometimes they will gnaw on clothes but the holes won’t show up until you do the laundry, and then everything falls apart.”

“My wool sweater was hanging right next to this one,” I said, “and that one’s fine.”

“Well, maybe your moths are just fussy eaters.”

But I knew that moths weren’t the cause of the holes. It was my killer washing- machine, El Diablo, which I was beginning to suspect was crossbred with a paper shredder.

So I took the sweater back to the store and asked the girl at the service desk what I’d done wrong and how I could have prevented the sweater from turning into something that looked like a giant fishing net. She didn’t offer any advice; she just gave me a refund.

Another thing I can’t figure out is why I currently own 10 pairs of green panties. They didn’t start out that way. They once were pretty pastel shades of pink, blue, yellow and lavender. Now they all are the same drab green color, kind of like army-issue underwear. Is it the washer? The water? Personally, I’d rather have it be the washer, because I don’t even want to think about what the water might be doing to my internal organs if it can do that to panties.

Aside from calling an exorcist or trading in my washer for another one, I guess there’s not much I can do to achieve laundry perfection. And I guess it really shouldn’t bother me that I’m covered with lint or have to wear green underwear, or that my husband gets dressed in the dark and often goes to work wearing his clothes inside out. At least everything is clean.

And believe it or not, having El Diablo for a washer actually does have a plus side. There’s this monogrammed red sweater with penguins and igloos on it that I received as a Christmas gift…and even though I haven’t worn it yet, I’m pretty sure it could use a good washing.