Friday, April 8, 2011

Adventures in Laundry

Bolstered by a looming underwear shortage, I finally mustered up the courage this morning to attempt to use the washer/dryer in the kitchen to do laundry.  After a bad experience on a previous visit that left all our whites a blue-gray color, I carefully sorted what would normally be two loads of laundry into four piles based on color and water temperature.  The first pile (warm water whites) just barely fit into the teeny front-loading machine.
It's a washer - AND a dryer!
Fortunately, I had the manual for this one, so I carefully read through it before attempting to run it.  There's a little pop-out drawer in the upper left corner that has three different compartments, so it was helpful to know which one to put the detergent in.  Of course, how MUCH detergent was anyone's guess.  The box suggested different amounts (in ml) based on how dirty the clothes were, the hardness of the water, and the fabric type.  There was no cup included, but we did have a measuring cup in the kitchen that was marked with ml, so I averaged it out and hoped for the best.  There are two kinds of laundry detergent here: biological and non-biological.  We were utterly baffled in the supermarket as to what the difference was, but since I have very sensitive skin, we picked the one that said it was dye/perfume-free and safe for sensitive skin.  It happened to be non-biological.  I had to resort to Google to find out what the difference was -- it has to do with stain-fighting enzymes that are added to the biological sort.

After a good half hour of prep work, I finally turned all the dials and knobs to what I hoped were the proper settings and started the machine.  According to the manual, the washing time can vary from 1-2.5 hours, depending on the settings, and this load was expected to take an hour and a half.  Sheesh!  By the time it was done, I was in the midst of eating lunch, so I didn't notice until I took my dishes to the kitchen.  I pulled a couple things out to hang dry, and then turned the dials to what I hoped were the correct settings for the dryer function.  Unlike our clothes dryers back in the States, these combo machines seem to just heat the clothes up, rather than using hot, dry air and venting out the moisture.  It is not very effective.  Not only that, the machine locks during the dry cycle, so you can't pull things out until it decides it's done.  After nearly 2 hours, it finally shut off, and I was certain all our whites would have shrunk to to the size of doll clothes.  Nope.  They were still damp and incredibly wrinkled.

I hung everything up that I could, started the second load (warm water colors), and headed out to run some errands.  My ears are still blocked up, so I went looking for some other ways to clear them out.  My goal was to find a heating pad, a Neti pot, and some rubbing alcohol.  Needless to say, when I asked for these things at the local Boots, they looked at me like I was from another planet.  "We don't sell alcohol here, miss," replied one of the sales ladies with a disapproving look.  They did have the saline packets for a Neti pot, but did not carry the pot itself.  They did have a heating pad, they just didn't know what it was until I explained it to them.  Well, at least I found one out of the three things I was looking for.  Let's hope it's the one that works!

I also stopped at Robert Dyas to pick up some suit hangers for Josh, and found some more practical and reasonably-priced ice cube trays.  It was yet another beautiful spring day, and all the pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating were already doing a brisk business.  I stopped at the supermarket on the way home, and was surprised to discover it was 7 pm when I walked in to the apartment.  Josh had just gotten home from work and was in the shower.  I put the second load of laundry on the dry cycle and we made guacamole (avocados were on sale!) and quesadillas for dinner.  At 9 pm, the dryer finally shut off and I was able to remove the still-damp, wrinkled clothes and hang them up.  It took me 11 hours to do two loads of laundry!  I could have done the same amount of laundry in a single load back home in less than 2 hours, and it would have been dry and unwrinkled when done.  Ugh.  When I pointed this out to Josh, he suggested we might want to look into a laundry service as a backup.  Clearly we need to befriend some actual British people and learn the secrets of coping with the way things work (or don't) here.

OK, off to bed so I can test out the heating pad on my ears.  Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. Your experiences with the washer/dryer sound similar to experiences I've had when trying to do laundry in Paris. It amazes me just how long the process takes!


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