Sunday, 6 December 2009

Round and round and round and round....

I got up early - ish, finished all the housework I was going to do, packed my case, switched off the central heating system and sorted out all the stuff needed for the launderette.

Disinfectant? Check. Ibcol Floral Bouquet

Washing powder? Check. Um.....Dreft Hand Wash powder - I'll be fine as long as I don't add too much and the attendant doesn't catch me putting it in the washing machine.

There are strict rules, you know.

Machine powders have less by way of foaming agents. This is important. The manufacturers seem to think that we need to see suds to think that clothes are clean at the end of the wash cycle. To an extent, it's true. Sudsy bubbles do help get your clothes clean, but it's a careful balancing act.

By agitating the clothes far harder than hand washing, the machines create suds aplenty. However, machines effectively "choke" if there are too many suds and will force foam out back through the drawer, out of the machine and onto the floor. It could even bust the door mechanism.

Machine wash powders have fewer of these suds chemicals to prevent anything going wrong and hand wash powders have more as we don't agitate the clothes as much as a machine does.

Putting hand wash sudsy stuff into a launderette washing machine is bad and the attendants are on the lookout for this sort of abuse.

I lugged the quilt and the illicit stuff to the launderette a couple of streets away.

This launderette, as far as I'm concerned, has always been there. When we were children, the quilts and heavy blankets were taken to this place for washing twice a year and it was a rare treat to see Mum succumb to technology.

I was always taken with this place. Having seen Mum slaving day after day doing as much as possible by hand, I loved labour saving devices. There was even a special coin-op machine that dispensed mini packets of laundry powder and special powdery conditioners. I loved this place. I wanted to work there when I was a kid. I even loved the smell of the place. Hot tumble drying clothes and soap powder. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm...........

Over the years, the launderette has had a few repaints and changed hands, but the washing machines remained the same. They take more money now, of course. The tumble dryers were replaced with modern gas powered silver things, but the layout, from the white, pink and brown terrazzo floor, the thin wobbly bench sitting between the two banks of washing machines lining the walls at the front of the shop, the step by step instructions engraved on a piece of laminate plastic on the wall over one bank of washing machines and the long thin bench attached to the wall under the dryers at the back hasn't changed since I was five years old.

Mum hated using a washing machine. Her OCD was all encompassing and not only dictated how often things should be washed but how they should be washed. And with what. The launderette forced her to use the machines AND buy different cleansers.

The launderette was treated with thin lipped unhappiness and constant complaints. Machines never clean as well as hand washing. Apparently.

I didn't care then and still don't. I've never seen much of a difference for normal wash loads. I will, however, use Colour Catchers, soda crystals, disinfectant (Zoflora Flowershop) and the correct powder (colour or delicate). I will soak if necessary.

Me? Problem? Nooooooooooooo.........

With this place, there was always the problem of defective machines. They often didn't have an OUT OF ORDER sign on them, so it was possible to load the machine with washing, pour the powder into the drawer, put the money in and..........nothing.

Then came the drawn out saga of getting the attendant and trying to explain that there was money in the machine but the machine wasn't working. Getting a refund was easier than trying to get the precious powder out of the drawer and into another machine. It involved a kind of poop scoop technique with a plastic bag. It often ended with washing powder stuck under the fingernails and trying to rinse them in the gushing water in the working machine. As far as I was concerned it all added to the experience.

What can I tell you? It was the seventies. There wasn't much by way of fun back then.

Anyway, there was a large washing machine free and I stuffed the quilt into it. Selecting "Warm wash with pre-wash", I put the coins in and only when the water started gushing through the drawer did I carefully pour the powder (with the carrier bag still around the box so the attendant couldn't see what shouldn't have been there). And the disinfectant. Lots of disinfectant. All of the disinfectant.

No problems at all. I didn't even have to wait for a dryer. I still wasn't quite sure about the quilt after about £6 worth of drying. I couldn't put the dryer on "HOT" as the quilt was entirely artificial and would have shrivelled.

I lugged it back to the house, rejigged the laundry that was already drying and draped the quilt over the clothes horse in the front room. I checked the locks, the central heating and the 'fridge, grabbed my suitcase, doubled locked the front door and the porch door, swapped my door keys round so I would have my Wolverhampton keys to hand when I landed at my front door and went home.

Tired and miserable.