Tuesday, December 15, 2015

52 Weeks to a Simpler Life – Tip #15 – Simplify the Laundry Chore

Doing laundry. A chore we all look forward to, right? Actually, I'm being facetious, as I am so often. The reality is, most people spend far more time dealing with laundry than is really necessary. Studies have found (and I'm not going to cite them) even with all the modern appliances, detergents, softeners, stain treatments and so on, most people (or families) expend as much or more time on laundry chores as our grandmothers or great grandmothers. Notice I made that a woman's chore because, traditionally, it has been.

So, why do we (in today's world that now encompasses the male gender more than ever) spend as much time or more time than earlier generations on this chore? There are a few very obvious reasons I'll mention here.

#1 Reason – Because We Have The Modern Appliances, Et Al

Yes! Believe it or not, we actually spend time doing more time doing laundry because . . . WE CAN DO MORE LAUNDRY!

Whoa! Wrap your head around that concept. The supposed time saving appliances and laundry products we now have actually motivate us (?) to do more laundry because we can? How hard is it to throw in one load, then another and another into the automatic, front loading, computer programmed washing machine and then take those loads from the washer and toss them in the front loading, computer programmed automatic dryer? Why, almost no time at all.

Well, except, now that you're doing three, four, five or maybe even more loads every week, especially if you have a family, when you add up the time expended, it's actually as much as or more than those earlier generations who did laundry by hand or in an old wringer washing machine and hanging the clothes out to dry on a clothes line. That's how my mother did laundry back in the 1950's. Oh, and did I mention the time it requires to fold all those clothes, towels and sheets? Add that to the time expended.

And, of course, we have to do the “regular” colored clothes in one load, the “whites” in another load, the “delicates” in another load and we can't forget the “heavily soiled” in, yet, another load, because the automatic washer and dryer give us all the pre-programmed abilities to do this.

What great “lemmings” we are as we're pulled along by the rings in our noses and follow in lockstep. The “ad men” and the marketing profession has really brainwashed us and locked us in.

#2 Reason – Because We Have And Wear So Many Clothes

That's right, those “ad men” and the marketing people not only suck us into buying and using all the supposedly “time-saving” appliances and laundry products, they also persuade us we need more and more clothes. After all, we don't want to be out of fashion. If you have kids, especially teenagers, they're really sucked in. Peer pressure be damned.

What are you most comfortable wearing? That's what you should be wearing. You REALLY don't need the latest new colors named after fish and flowers and jewels and whatever else. You REALLY don't need the newest and latest super-overpriced team jersey to sit in front of the TV on the weekend and watch your favorite sports team convince you to drink beer and consume chips. You also don't need the latest, overpriced Hard Rock Cafe tee shirt and similar.

That's right! We do more laundry with the automatic, computerized, front loading, time-saving washing and drying appliances and laundry products because we have and use far more clothes, towels and sheets than our grandparents and great grandparents did. Once again, the marketing profession is persuading you to expend not only more time, but way more of your hard earned money so you can “be in fashion” and spend more priceless time (or money if you actually pay someone else) laundering all that fashionable stuff.

When you learn to simplify your life you'll simplify your wardrobe, but that's a different topic. You'll also learn that humans are basically very clean animals (except for a few we run into periodically). Studies (and, again, I'm not going to cite them here, you can look them up) have shown that for the most part, humans bathe more than necessary for good hygiene. This, again, gives the ad men and marketing profession another platform – skin moisturizers to replace the natural body oils we wash away, a myriad of devices for eliminating dead skin most of which falls away naturally and other products.

The only really good product I hope we all use, if we socialize in public is a good deodorant. The one I currently use is one of the least expensive on the market and claims to be good for as many as 48 hours. I tested their claim. They are right. It's good for two days and I haven't offended anyone since I started using it their way. And, I now go six months between needing a new container. I dare say, it's probably good for three days, but I'm pleased with two.

You really don't need to change clothes two or three times a day. You really don't need to wear a different shirt, pants, skirt or whatever, everyday. Actually, with reasonable care a shirt, pair of pants, etc. can be worn for a week or more, before laundering. Alternating two or three shirts, pants or skirts on succeeding days, you probably can get away with not laundering them for two or three weeks, or even four weeks in some cases.

Let me touch on the “unmentionables.” Yes! I'm talking about underwear. First, and I don't actually know of any studies, perhaps there are studies, some, maybe many, women seem to like going “commando.” No! Women don't come up to me and tell me they aren't wearing underwear. But, in reading all kinds of materials (and I'm not just speaking of tabloids about women celebrities), women seem to enjoy the freedom of going sans panties and, when reasonable, bras.

I believe there are many “nomadic” women travelers who also prefer this commando style. Do they never wear underwear? I'm sure that's not the case. There are certainly times and reasons underwear is both the better part of valor and virtuous, too. But, if you can go sans underwear, that again, saves on the amount of underwear you need and saves on laundering them. We'll get into types of underwear at another time.

Not to leave men out of the picture here. There are also a lot of men who also go commando – and again, they don't advertise or brag. They are just more comfortable with one less layer of clothes. Men may have to be a bit more careful when “zipping up,” but I think that's enough said on that topic. And, of course, there are times when, again, it's the better part of valor for men to wear skivvies. I won't get into the debate over boxers or briefs here. As far as virtue – I'm not going there, either.

And, yes, sleeping in the altogether is actually very pleasant, regardless of whether we're talking about sleeping in underwear, pj's, nighties or night gowns. If you enjoy freedom, there's nothing to get “bound” up in during your beauty sleep.

One other thing that crosses my mind. As long as you are a clean and hygienic person, you can likely get away with wearing underwear for a couple days and maybe even three days on occasion when it may be necessary. People who are trekkers, backpackers, etc., whether domestically or internationally, sometimes don't have the opportunities to wash their undies conveniently nor can they carry an unlimited supply. 

Those of us who are nomadic “road warriors” understand this. We want to spend as little time possible sitting in a laundromat doing the laundry chore. Of course, there is also disposable underwear that takes up very little space and can fill the need when it arises. But, again, that's a topic for another time.

That's reality. But, you're turning your nose up at me saying you'd stink living like that. Actually, with proper, basic hygiene, you won't. But, what will people say if they see you in the same things day after day. WHO CARES what they think? Is it their time or money? No! It's my money or yours. You don't have to conform to what other people think or expect of you. Who is the boss of us, anyway?

Reason #3 – Because We Use Too Many Towels And Change Sheets Too Often

The same is true for towels and sheets. First, if, according to what I said a few paragraphs back is true, then you don't need to bathe everyday. Second, you REALLY don't need color coordinated towels to dry your wet body off after a shower. All good towels do the same job regardless of their color. So, that saves towels.

Let me throw out some very simple, basic logic and reasoning. Do you use the towels on your dirty body or on your clean body after you've bathed? Therefore, the towel isn't really getting dirty, is it? So, if you're bathing, maybe three or four times a week and using one towel, no problem. Shake out the towel after you bathe to eliminate any dead skin that may not have washed down the drain, let it air dry and it's ready for the next use.

But, what about wash cloths. Oh my, that is a dilemma. Let's see, you liberally apply soap or some kind of cleaning product to the body and wash cloth after which you rinse out the wash cloth and hang it to air dry. Seems to me, you just washed the wash cloth.

Sheets! Do they REALLY have to be washed every week without fail? Well, if you have a very active sex life or you suffer from some degree of incontinence, this is probably a very good idea. But, again, that's not the case for most people (and if you are one of the lucky ones who has a very active sex life, you have a lot of people who envy you, so wash those sheets joyfully).

A simple way of handling sheets is don't make the bed everyday – leave the sheets exposed to the air, that saves another daily chore and time. But, again, that's a matter for another tip.

As a society and culture, we're obsessed with both cleanliness and fashion. Both are overrated when done beyond actual need and reality or to obsession.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is simple. Use some basic reasoning and logic with this laundry chore. Just because some ad on TV or cable and some hard working and very effective salesperson convinced you to expend $1,500.00 on the latest and greatest, time-saving laundry appliances doesn't mean you have to use them to excess.

There are several rational considerations regarding laundry. Here are the questions to ask and answer for yourself:

  • How much money should I expend on laundry appliances?
  • Will a $1,500.00 set of front loading appliances actually do a better job and save me anymore time over an $800.00 set of top loading, simpler appliances?
  • If you use laundromats or laundry rooms in apartments or condos, how much time AND money do you want to spend in those laundry rooms?
  • How much does it cost for gas/electric, water, detergent, additives and softeners if I do six or seven loads each week compared to two loads every two weeks?
  • How much is my priceless time worth in the comparison in the last question and what could I use the saved time for?
  • Do I REALLY need to bathe everyday (multiply that times the number of people in your family or living group)?
  • How much does it cost for all this bathing in hot water, heat and bathing/shampooing products?
  • Would I be more comfortable wearing the fewer things I'm really comfortable in more often and foregoing what the fashionistas think than being in fashionable style all the time to please everyone else.

So, Tip #15 in the 52 Ways to a Simpler Life is . . . simplify your laundry chores – man, woman, single, married, whatever. The amount of money you'll ultimately save will add up to a substantial amount over time. However, the savings in your precious time will be priceless and God only knows how little time we really have. Why spend it overdoing a necessary chore when you could find more pleasurable and rewarding uses for that time (and money).

Live free and be happy. EH

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