Clean laundry, for me, is one of life’s little pleasures. I typically do a cycle of clothing once per week and my bedding every two weeks. Nothing beats throwing a pile of dirty, sweaty clothes into the washing machine and having it transform into a clean, fragrant hamperful 90 minutes and $5.00 worth of quarters later.
I currently live in employer-provided housing in Alaska. I spend my summers working at a small hotel in a remote, sparsely-populated area. My company provides an assortment of trailers, cabins and dorm buildings for employees to live in, as well as an employee cafeteria. (A nominal ‘room and board’ fee is deducted from each person’s paycheck.) This is common all over the state, at businesses that rely on seasonal workers like me who live in Alaska just for the duration of the busy May-to-September tourist season.
There are two employee laundry rooms at the hotel–one is just for employee use, while the other is for both employees and the general public. Even the smallest Alaska communities often have a laundromat and public showers, since many locals live in modest cabins or trailers that don’t necessarily have electricity or running water.
I always use the public laundry room since it’s closer to where I live. It contains six washers and six dryers, which are rarely all occupied at the same time. Usually I just throw my clothes into a machine, then set a timer on my phone and take the short walk back to my trailer. Other times I’ll sit and wait, chatting with whatever co-worker or local comes along. It’s a small town where most everyone knows one another.
I’ve never minded shared laundry rooms.
In the past I’ve lived in various apartment buildings, all with laundry facilities shared by either the entire building or several floors. A shared laundry room means a lower rate on rent, and that I don’t have to schlep to an offsite laundromat. It’s hard enough to carry a hamper up and down stairs and hallways–I can’t imagine having to transport it several city blocks!
I’m sure we’ve all heard about, or been unfortunate to experience, laundry room mishaps–a stranger throwing our clothes on the floor or countertop, or a faulty machine leaving our clothes too wet, too dry, shrunken or stained. Or maybe a piece of clothing disappears and is never seen again. Did the machine eat that sock, or did we drop it somewhere? It’s a frustrating, often unsolvable mystery.
I’ve been fortunate to never experience any major laundry disasters–none of my clothes have ever been stolen, thrown on the floor, or completely ruined. Though, I do often find interesting things in the machines: metal name tags which must have fallen off of someone’s work uniform. Coins and dollar bills, ID cards, cigarettes, pens and markers that fell out of another person’s pockets. Every object is a reminder of the fact that I’m throwing my clothes into a drum where many, many strangers’ soiled clothes have gone before.
A shared house provides an ideal balance for communal laundry.
Rare is the ‘single family’ home that doesn’t have a washer and dryer, and these standard household machines are shared amongst only a few housemates instead of an entire apartment complex. The times I’ve lived in a shared house, versus an apartment, it felt like a luxury to be able to run to the basement and throw in a load of clothing most any time I wanted to.
If you live with children or animals – who, as a general rule, are messier than adults – this can be another reason to love having access to a household washing machine. The last house I lived in (in Baltimore) my home-mate was Kara, who owned a dog named Echo.
A dog named Echo
Echo was a geriatric schnauzer, prone to having accidents on either her dog bed or the small carpet inside the front door. Kara taught me how to set the machine for a hot water/extended wash cycle so that the dog bed and carpet came out looking good as new. It was routine for one or the other of us to throw Echo’s bed in the wash whenever the need arose.
I was also personally thankful for easy access to a washer/dryer because, while living with Kara, I worked in a restaurant and came home with food stains and the smell of kitchen grease all over my shirt and apron. At times I had to wash my stinky, messy work clothes more often than once per week.
Depending on your relationship with your home-mates, a shared washer-dryer allows for consolidation and economy. Combining your clothing into one load may be inconvenient or too familiar, but it might at least make sense to take turns throwing things like bath mats, shower curtains and kitchen towels into one big load.
No matter how you feel about laundry, and how much of a drudgery it seems compared to other chores, I hope you’ll agree with me that nothing beats that first-night smell, drifting off to sleep under your freshly-laundered bedding and inhaling the fresh scent of your sheets and comforter.
Tell us your laundry stories in the comments below 🙂 And here’s another blog about sharing household chores and organization: That’s How I Do Things .
photo: Emmanuel Ikwuegbu pexels.com