Friday, July 11, 2008

July 11, 2008 Doing the Laundry

Doing the Laundry
July 11, 2008
It's not that I've run out of things to talk about, but since most of my regular
readers are ladies I thought that I'd give some time to the less glamorous duties of this missionary.

Doing the laundry in our apartment is very different from doing it at home. There you just dump in the clothes, put some soap in the machine and go do something more interesting. In our apartment I am commissar of the laundry while sister Simmons is Czar of the kitchen. (I am also in charge of the
vacuuming, garbage, flying things, world peace, and any sounds in the night.)

First, the machine itself. It is an Ellengerg WM-5520. It is made in Ukraine of sturdy plastic and works with a series of timers and valves on the top that you operate strictly by hand. It is divided into two chambers, the agitating side and the spinning side. Our machine is located in the tub-sink room (the toilet has its own closet) The operation is thus:
  1. Get out the 5 gang plug strip, plug it into the outlet located 5' above the floor on the wall between the tub room and toilet closet next to the two light switches that control the lights to same. Plug the washer into the plug strip because the washer cord is 5" too short
  2. Place the shepherd's crook hose over the rim of the tub so the water goes in the tub and not on the floor. This is the pump discharge emptying the agitation tank or the spinning tank.
  3. Remove the left chamber lid, it is not hinged, and lean it against the tub. Don't step on it or kick it under the tub that stands on 4" legs.
  4. Fill the agitation tub with the batch of clothes and then fill with water from the shower head to the level of the lint filter; about half a tub.
  5. Add soap and bleach if needed.
  6. Replace the lid and turn the agitator timer to 12 minutes for a regular wash.
That whole process takes about 15 minutes to start. I have checked with the local ladies to get ideas on how to get a whiter wash. Olga says to use bleach. Sister Gushina says to use Oxyclean, in the white jar, for whites, and in the pink jar for colors. Lydia says her mother does the wash. They all agree to use fabric softener in the rinse so I'm trying it out. Here is my stock (below) of laundry chemicals.

Well, after the 12 minute agitation the clothes have been wrapped into a tight bundle in the center of the the tub. I untangle them and one by one move the dripping clothes into the spinner, close the lid, and turn the timer to 2 minutes. If the load is not balanced, the machine begins to dance around the small floor area. If that happens I turn off the spinner, open the lid quickly, rearrange the load, and try again. With a little luck the load spins smoothly and the water comes out of the clothes and it pumped into the tub. Meanwhile, I turn the knob that starts the pump to empty the agitation chamber of dirty water. That takes about 7 minutes. Then the process is repeated without soap for the rinse cycle.

The lint filter is sort of interesting. It is a silk bag hung in a frame that clips to a bracket on the side of the agitator tub. As the water sloshes around the tub some flows through the bag, catching some lint. No matter what color the clothes are, the lint is always light blue. How does that happen?

I have been searching for ways to be more efficient and found that I can start emptying the dirty water while moving the washed clothes into the spinner. I've also found that the rinse water is OK for the next wash load. That saves me about 12-15 minutes per load.

With the final rinse and spin I am ready to hang out the clothes on our "dryer". This is a rack with parallel rows of wires over which I drape the damp clothes. The sheets take special care because one will cover the rack and the other has to be hung in the sun-porch on the bungie line we got from a friend before we left.

When Cindy says, "Can you do a load of wash tonight?" that means about 70 minutes of active laundry labor, not nearly what she has to do to cook a meal, but close. I figure that I do 6-8 loads a week plus two loads of sheets. That's about 12 hours of laundry.

I remember watching my mother do the laundry on Mondays in the early 50's and it was very much like what I am doing. She had a "washer" standing next to the laundry tub. She filled it with a hose, added the clothes and soap and started the agitation. after a time, she turned the machine off and ran the clothes through a ringer being careful not to get her clothes or any body parts caught in the rollers. The wrung clothes fell onto a tray set across the rim of the laundry tub. Then she turned a valve, turned on the machine, and pumped the water out of the agitater into the laundry tub.

Next, back into the machine went the clothes for the rinse cycle using the same routine without the soap (just like I do). Finally the "wrung" clothes went into a basket and out to the clothes line. She took a damp cloth and ran down each line to be sure it was clean and then pinned the clothes in place. I AM MY MOTHER. Oh, sorry I have to run. The next load is ready to spin.


Doretta said...

Your laundry story brought back memories. Even though I was raised in Los Angeles during the
50's, my mother thought washing machines wore out the clothes, so the sheets and towels went to the corner commercial laundry and we did the rest by hand on a scrub board in the sink. Then we hung them on the clothesline to dry. We got a dryer first and then when I was 16, we got a washine machine. We had finally moved into the "modern" age and was I ever glad!
Bob said his grandmother had a gas powered washing machine with ringers. That just conjures up pictures of it getting loose and running down the road!
We love your blog. Thanks for sharing. We are enjoying the harvests from our small garden and planning for more next year.
You talked about the dogs. How about the "2 cats"? (CS&N-one of our favorite songs) Love you,
Bob and Doretta

Shannon Simmons said...

Well dad, I must say I am really grateful for my washer & dryer here at the Keys. Laundry day sounds like a vacation compared to your description. Good luck laundry Commisar!