Radical laundry

Bad news update, a week later: It took me a while to notice, but there's a real problem with what's detailed below, and that's lint. 

I thought the dryer just tumble-dried your clothes, but guess what? It also blows off all the lint. Without using a dryer, the lint stays all over everything.

Using one of those sticky-rollers will de-lint the shirts and pants, but it takes a lot of time, and I haven't found any way to de-lint the towels. Even repeatedly snapping 'em like in a locker room leaves lots of lint. More and more with every load dried on my rack, when I stepped out of the shower and dried myself, my face and body and hair was covered with lint.

Sigh. So I'm traipsing down to the basement to use the dryer again, which makes using the mini-washing machine seem like a lot of trouble, so I'm also using the basement washing machines.

I still like the mini-washing machine, and still use it, but mostly just to re-wash my dark clothes when the big washing machine adds those white streaks to everything.

Your expert advise would be welcome: I don't understand how people who use clotheslines aren't walking around covered in lint.

Here's the article I wrote last weekend, but you can consider it retracted unless there's a way to defeat the lint:

Of all the household chores of modern western civilization, doing laundry is the one I hate most. (Scrubbing the toilet doesn’t count, because I simply don’t scrub the toilet.)

Once or twice a week, gotta load the basket, and carry it down the stairs to the dark, creepy basement, hoping there’s a washing machine available. Half the time there isn’t, so I trudge back upstairs with the basket and come back later.

When a washing machine is available, feed it a handful of quarters, and hope it works.

Come back in 45 minutes, feed quarters into the dryer, and hope it works.

Come back in an hour and notice that all my dark clothes are streaked with white smudges, the residue of someone else’s powder detergent. I'll either need to spend half an hour hand-rinsing my black Ts and pants, or go out dressed like late-night lightning.

That's a good laundry day. On bad days, I’ve put quarters into broken machines. I've come back in 45 minutes to find it’s an “unbalanced load.” I’ve not come back promptly enough, and found my socks and underwear and t-shirts and pants piled on the table, or on the floor. And sometimes some bastard locks the laundry room door.

What’s not to hate? 

Frustrated, I've occasionally driven to a nearby laundromat that costs more, but lets my black pants be black. Hanging out at a laundromat is a low-level Hell, though.

For a while I foot-washed my clothes while I was showering. (And what the heck, since I’ve brought it up, I’ll append that brief article at the end of this one.)



For the past few weeks, though, I’ve tried a new hack. For $99 — about six months of laundry quarters — I bought this mini-washing machine for my apartment. It’s the size of a split-level breadbox, and it requires no installation, just an electric outlet, running water, and a drain.

And I think I love it.

My plan was to leave this new machine in the bathtub, and shower next to it. My dad was full of common sense, though, and his ghost whispered that it might not be a good idea to leave an electric appliance in standing water when the bathtub drain is running slow.

Instead I’ve set it up in the kitchen, on the counter. Spice rack to the right, sink to the left. It makes better sense there, anyway. Since I barely cook, there’s more available space in the tiny kitchen than in the tiny bathroom.

It’s a mini-washing machine, so one t-shirt, pants, and a towel is a full load. That’s not really a problem, though; I’ve gotten in the habit of running a load after my shower every morning — which means I no longer need a hamper or laundry basket, so I've gained some space in the apartment.

The machine is simple. Like any washing machine, it fills with water and a little detergent, and there’s an agitator that gently swirls the clothes and towels in the soapy water. Then it drains, and for the rinse cycle, fresh water comes in and gets agitated.

Other than its compact size, there are three big differences between my mini-washing machine and the full-size ones in the basement:

① It doesn't need any damned quarters.

② You fill and drain the water yourself. You can hook a hose (included) to your faucet, or fill several pitchers of water and dump them into the machine. The hose doesn’t quite fit my faucet, so I’m filling the machine manually, with 6-7 full pitchers of water. Yeah, it's a bother, but not as much bother as walking to the basement and back.

There’s a draining hose (included) that locks in the upright position while the machine washes and rinses, and then you unhook the hose and the water drains down the sink. That's my favorite part of the whole process, because as the water comes rushing out you can see how dirty it is (which means, how clean your clothes are).

③ After washing and rinsing, the spin cycle is a bit complicated — you manually put your clean, wet clothes into a “spin bucket” (included), and the machine enthusiastically spins the clothes like a full-size machine does, and gets them not dry but less wet.

This works fine, so long as you have the suction cups (included) on the machine’s legs sealed nice and tight to the surface, and so long as the suction cups don’t come loose with the machine's ‘spin’ vibrations. If it comes loose, though, this mini-washing machine is so lightweight it'll walk away as it shakes. It probably wouldn’t survive toppling over the edge of the counter, so after it started walking, I decided not to use the spin cycle any more.

That’s a minor issue, though, and I've jerry-rigged a wringer system that works as well or maybe better than the spin cycle. It requires two milk crates and two giant salad bowls. Fortunately, I have tons of milk crates and salad bowls.

Put a giant salad bowl in one of the milk crates, and put that crate on the floor. You want the biggest bowl that fits inside the milk crate.

Stack the second milk crate on top of the first one, and put your wet, clean laundry in it. You’ll hear the water start dripping down to the salad bowl below.

Then put a second salad bowl in the upper milk crate, on top of the wet clothes, put your foot in that salad bowl, and push down, hard. You’ll hear water rushing into the salad bowl below. Keep pushing with your foot until you hear only a trickle instead of a waterfall. 

Now that they're merely moist instead of sopping wet, put your clean clothes on a dryer rack, like this one I’ve set up in my bathtub. The clothes will take 10-12 hours to dry, or quicker if you point an electric fan at ‘em.

To keep lint and gunk from clogging the kitchen sink, I've ordered these filters for eight bucks.

What with manually filling and draining the machine, stomping the clean clothes in the wringer contraption, and hanging them in the bathtub to dry, you might think this adds more steps to doing the laundry. It’s still fewer steps, though, literally, since I no longer walk to and from and to and from and to and from the basement.

I’m also freed from having to move the laundry along in a timely manner. If I forget for a few hours, that’s not a problem, and might even be an advantage — the clothes simply soak longer. The machine is in the kitchen and I'm there for a snack every few hours. I'll soon be back for some prunes or popsicles, so the laundry won't be forgotten for long. 

No more quarters. No white streaks on my black shirts. No walks down the stairs to the basement, and back upstairs, over and over again. What's not to love?

That’s the end of the article, but I’m adding two addendums, because I don’t want to write three separate articles about doing the damned laundry.


Addendum One:
The laundry egg

Detergent is expensive and toxic, so a while back I tried these plastic egg-shaped things that have pebbles inside. You use the egg instead of detergent — toss it on top of your laundry in the machine, and when it gets wet the pebbles inside exude some allegedly all-natural compound that works like detergent.

I don’t understand the science, but it works. Using the egg & pebbles, my clothes have seemed clean. $15 for 70 loads is comparable to the price of detergent, and friendlier to the planet. And for carrying laundry to the basement and back, the egg weighs basically nothing, which is five pounds less than a giant jug of detergent. That's important if you're lazy and a weakling, like me.

After use and re-use and re-re-use, the pebbles slowly dissolve, and the manufacturer wants to sell you new pebbles after about 70 loads of laundry. That seems about right. I’ve used the egg for about 35 loads of laundry, and the pebbles are half depleted.

You can read more about EcoEgg and maybe buy it at their website. Doug says yes.

Sadly, though, I’m no longer going to use this product. My new mini-washing machine is only about twenty feet from where I sit on my butt all day, and the egg makes too much noise banging against the sides of the machine. It's annoying. Sounds like tennis-shoes spinning in the dryer, or worse, punk rock.


Addendum 2:
Wash your clothes in the shower, while taking a shower.

This was an experiment I tried in early 2020, but after a few months I grew less enthusiastic, because big purple rashes started growing in my groin.

I've started showering with dirty clothes in the tub, because the laundry room in my apartment building is gross, it's a long walk down the hall and down the stairs, the washing machines always leave white streaks on my dark clothes, and doing laundry in the tub saves a few bucks.

It's easy and it's clean. Before starting the shower, spread all your dirty clothes in just one layer across the bottom of the tub. Just one layer. If you pile clothes on top of clothes, you're not going to get them very clean.

Then shower as usual, but keep walking on your clothes under the running water. The soapy lather from washing your hair and limbs and genitals will be enough to get your clothes clean, provided that you keep walking on the wet clothes like you're stomping grapes to make wine.

Keep walking for as long as you're in the shower.

Think of all the exercise you’re getting!

When I first started washing some clothes in the shower, I added a blop of detergent and/or floated my bar of soap among the clothes, but it seems to make no difference in how clean the clothes look, smell, or feel, so I've stopped adding anything. Actually, using detergent or soap necessitates extra rinsing effort, which defeats the whole concept of lazy, and lazy is what it’s all about.

The only extra effort required is, when you'd otherwise be done showering, briefly wring out the clothes. Twist 'em in your hands to get most of the water out. The more you wring, the quicker they'll dry, and if you don't wring enough they might get mildewy. But take it easy; you only need to wring things enough so that they're just dripping occasionally, not raining or drizzling.

Dry-time is up to a day or so, depending on how much effort you put into wring time. Hang the wet clothes where the drips won't make a mess or do damage — your front porch, maybe, or directly over the cat's water bowl?

For me, it was worth the investment to buy this gadget — a collapsible clothesline that sits over the bathtub. This one is cheaper, but "some assembly is required" and who needs that? Also, the reviews for the cheaper one say it's crapola.



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  1. Captain HampocketsJuly 31, 2021 at 3:00 PM

    >Scrubbing the toilet doesn’t count, because I simply don’t scrub the toilet.

    Yeah. I don't scrub the toilet either, but you take it to another level. Like, If I leave piles of shit on the sides that don't go down after flushing, I remove them simply because they are gross. But damn. You are the king of dirty toilets.

    I never mentioned it when I stayed with you because it really impacted my life basically zero, and if I cared enough, I'd have done it myself.

    But yeah, the only person who THOROUGHLY cleans the poilet in my household is my sweetie. I do dishes, sweep, mop, whatever. No toilet. I mean, it's the shitter. Make it look non-vomit-inducing, I'm fine with that level of cleanliness.

    1. Engrave it on my tombstone" King of dirty toilets. If it grossed you out, I'm only proud.

    2. Captain HampocketsAugust 1, 2021 at 6:41 AM

      Ehhhh. It grossed me out a little, I guess. More in the sense of, I wasn't used to it. Virginia is super, super disgusted by poop, one of the ways we differ. Like, no poop humor allowed. Luckily, I have a good friend here who likes poop humor.

    3. Ah, I see we have Oscar Wilde here.

    4. Nobody's ever called it 'Oscar' before.

  2. I will apologize if I have to but I hope you can take it. You write good but sometimes too disgusting. I want to believe you make some of it up. Showering with your dirty clothes and never cleaning your toilet?

    1. Captain HampocketsAugust 1, 2021 at 3:41 PM

      Dude, your name is literally "bat shit." You're gonna make an issue out of a dirty toilet?

    2. All true and rather mild, in my opinion. Toilets — go just a couple of months without scrubbing like crazy, and it's stained forever. And once it's stained forever, why bother?

      No apology necessary. I was an umpire; it's impossible to accidentally insult me.

    3. Captain HampocketsAugust 1, 2021 at 5:15 PM

      I knew you were an ump. But did we ever talk about the books by Ron Luciano? He was a major league ump for a decade or so, very colorful, and wrote a few books of anecdotes about his experiences. Very funny, I loved them when I was a kid.

    4. He was something special, yeah. He made himself a star of the game, and I understand the people who complained about that, but he (somewhat) inspired my own style, and I thought he was great.

      Took his own life.

    5. My last name is very similar to Guano. It was an insult first then became a nickname so I learned to like it.

    6. I wonder if kids named Smith or Jones were taunted for their names? Every other name was the butt of jokes.

  3. Yep, I remember him dying, because I was a fan of his books. Fucking good ol' exhaust pipe tube. It's a stereotype, but the most chipper people are often really hurting.

  4. Replies
    1. Also the medium chipper people. Probably the wood chipper people too.


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