SYBIL SEZ!!.... The Laundry Lambada!!

Dear Sybil, I hate doing laundry! I hate having to stay in the laundromat and watch the machines to make sure they finish running right. The washers always go off balance and don’t finish their spin cycle right, and when I come back the clothes may be soaking wet…or still sudsy! Is there a solution?? Please help or I’ll wear dirty clothes to your Friday shows!!! Yours truly, Stinky. 

Dear …….Stinky ….. (After all those years at finishing school and at Vassar, I never, ever thought I would address anyone as “Stinky”!!....especially in a letter!!). I happen to enjoy doing my own laundry!....  whether it’s at home or in a laundromat.  Heaven knows I’m not the most domestic creature in the world, but there are some home chores I like doing, and the process of washing and drying clothes (even “delicates” by hand) appeals to some part of my “simpler-life fantasy”. I love getting stains out of clothes (blood is one of my specialties!), and there’s nothing sweeter than the smell of fresh clothes from the dryer or the clothesline! I adore surprising folks, and myself, with how white I can get my whites! …and I’m often caught bragging about it, much to the annoyance of gardening club members or innocent diners at other tables!… But more on that at another time! … let’s solve your washing machine mambo….or as I like to call it, The Laundry Lambada! First of all, laundromat machines are constantly going out of whack because they basically have almost round-the-clock use….like a taxi cab in NYC. There truly is no rest for the weary, and these machines exist as close to Charles Dickens’ workhouse brutalities as we can get in the 21st century. Someday in the future, androids may look back on us as barbarians and savages for the way we treated their machine ancestors. Not only do laundry machines (and taxi cabs!) run nearly nonstop, but they’re often run by fools as well… people who drive over curbs and lane dividers, or stuff 45 lbs. of wash in an 18 lb. front-loader. The new water-conserving washers make it clear how full to fill the tub and how much detergent to use! Do so!!! They’re not posting those directions on the wall to ruin your day or encroach on your civil liberties! (If any Tea Partiers or Ayn Rand Fan Club members are reading Mummie’s little articles, you’re bound to be enraged! My politics are fairly clear!). The nice laundromat folks are invested in you getting clean clothes, and they’re definitely pointing you in the right direction. Probably you should fill your front-loading machine only about 2/3s full, leaving some “breathing space” at the top of the tub. My laundry room has an actual diagram that shows exactly what they recommend…I guess the only way it could be clearer for the laundry-lame would be if we actually had a laundry stewardess in a tailored uniform come down the aisles between the machines and demonstrate with smiles and gestures to a prerecorded announcement. (Hell, that’ll spike the monthly rent right up, won’t it?!). Once you’ve loaded the tub properly and made sure that neither a sock nor a child (or pet!) has gotten caught in the rubber seal around the door, use the proper amount of detergent and in the proper orifices offered to you….why am I hearing snickering? Washing machines have orifices too! Now! Here’s the solution to your aggravation with machines that go out of balance and don’t complete their cycles correctly….(even if you DO stay and try to brace the machine that’s loaded properly, you can end up “rasslin’ it” back and forth and accomplish nothing more than being laughed at by other customers and throwing your back out for a week!) Here’s what I do; be sure to take a couple of extra terry-cloth dishtowels to the laundry with you. If you use a giant laundry bag, that too is a great tool, and here’s why…. Fold each of the towels or the bag several times into a bulky-ish lump, almost like a fabric “brick”, then carefully but firmly slide one (or two if necessary) into the space between the washing machines right up at the top front corner. You’ll have to really “saw” the folded cloth back and forth to fit it in tightly enough. Take it out and add folds if you need a tighter fit, or remove some folds if you can’t budge it into the space, but remember!.... the tighter the fit of that cushion, the less the machine can wobble when it starts its spin cycle. One towel on each side of each of your washing machines will brace the whole arrangement, and you’ll have a troop of disciplined soldiers marching at attention instead of the gymnasium prom scene from WEST SIDE STORY. I guarantee you can either leave and go get a caramel macchiato or sit in front of it all with your latest issue of the New Yorker and do nothing until the machine turns off…period! The clothes will be thoroughly rinsed clean and spun dry, ready to be shaken out and tossed into the dryer. I taught myself that trick years ago (alright, washing machines had just been invented, and I should have patented my idea!!) but every time I’ve shown it to folks they look at me I like I discovered fire…or invented beignets!!! (I wish I had!!) Let me know if my little trick helps you out Stinky, and makes laundry day a little easier on you. Until you win the Mega-Millions and can have a staff of laundresses doing it all for you, maybe you’ll find the Laundromat a place for coffee and conversation with fun, new friends…. And if not, well, please wear deodorant to my shows, or I’ll be sure to “smell” you out! Xoxoxoxo!!!! Sybil.

[Want to read other fun and funny stories here on Just enter any topic that pops into your head in the "search" window on the upper right! Who knows what might come up?...and feel free to share them with your friends!]