I have to talk about laundry. No really, I do. I’ve been having a good hard long think about it recently. I’ve been thinking about it while I sort clothes, wash clothes, hang clothes out on the line, take them in off the line, throw them back on the line, put them on the clothes horse, take them off the clothes horse, put them in the dryer, take them out of the dryer, fold them, move them from the kitchen table, to the stairs, to the cabinet upstairs, to the bed and to their final resting place in the drawers.
I’ve been thinking about it while I try to find radiator space for garments that aren’t allowed in the dryer, which is practically all the hubby’s clothes after a strict ban due to a few random shrinking incidents. And I’ve been thinking about it while I survey my kitchen, which most days looks more like a launderette than a usable family space.
How did things get this bad? Well the baby doesn’t help of course. I knew to expect extra washing with the new arrival, but I fear I underestimated how much. The problem is not just with the baby (who has a number of changes of clothes a day; tops and bibs due to the dribbles, extra vests due to the leaking yucky stuff, whole outfits due to the pukey stuff and muslin cloths due to all of the above) but with her targeting of Mammy, Daddy, doggy, sofa, floor, buggy and cot. Everything goes in the wash, from blankets, to seat covers to full changes of adult clothes. It’s a lot.
Apart from the baby however, I fear we are a bit too clean. Growing up I remember wearing things a few times before they went in the wash. Granted children aren’t sweaty, stinky adult creatures, but still, you were more inclined to give a stain a wipe and go about your merry way. Now, I fire things in the wash if they have so much as a few hairs stuck to it. I just can’t be bothered removing them; it’s easier to put them in the wash.
The other problem is that we have too many clothes. I know this, because I love shopping. And I know this because I have to regularly clear out wardrobes and shelves, with bags of clothes going to charity, and more bags going into the attic to try and sell at some point (the good stuff). If the clear outs don’t happen, a backlog occurs and all pandemonium breaks out with drawers that don’t open, urgent items that can’t be found and the whole household ends up wearing underwear that’s far too small for us (and four bottoms occurs).
Lately I’ve been feeling guilty about all of this. I know that the staggering amount of washing machine loads I put on are using energy, water, detergents, and my precious time. It is a waste. But the clothes keep coming. And I keep pressing on. (No pun intended).
The cheap availability of clothes is a major factor in this washing problem I’ve created. As an 80s child, I grew up in an era where Penny’s only stocked Puma, clothes were hand-made for special occasions and you were proud to live in a favourite outfit – for years. Clothes were special. We welcomed hand-me-downs. As teenagers, we swapped items with friends and this was sometimes better than owning them because you knew you were on borrowed time. Goodbye string top which makes my non-existent chest look bigger…
Clothes are so very cheap now. You can go to town on €20 and come back with a pair of leggings, two tops, earrings, a small bag and your parking covered. They’ve been devalued and are completely disposable. But, this doesn’t stop me from wanting more.
I’m a massive fan of Irish online site, adverts.ie. This fabulous website allows you to create what you could call your own online pop-up shop. There’s a whole market place there, and to date I’ve sold nearly 100 items of clothing. It works, I feel, due to an Irish sense of decency. You can clearly see a person’s profile, you can agree to swap items of clothing and you pay in advance for any item you purchase and receive.
Best of all, I get a little kick out of making a sale and I enjoy the fact that my clothes are going on to be reused, rather than disposed of. It’s nice to see your clothes going to a good home too. Because when you throw them in the charity bin, who knows if they’ll ever be loved again?
Today I went shopping, ahead of my birthday next weekend. I found myself looking through the racks, trying to select items that might fit my post-baby body. After a few dresses I realised I was shopping in a way I had never shopped before. I was not thinking about my night out, or what shoes might match or even about the price tag really. There was only one thing on my mind. RESALE VALUE. And you know maybe this is the way to go. High value items, less washing and a sleek and streamlined wardrobe. Yeah right, who am I kidding? I’ll see you in Penny’s, tomorrow.