Saturday, June 11, 2011

Airing Our Dirty Laundry

I don't know why I felt like blogging about this. I think it finally struck me that what passes for normal in our house is anything but in more civilized homes; and I do like being unique. Part of my desire to share this part of my life is also to create a record of my current life so I can read this in a decade and be grateful to be done with this part of raising my children.

My tale of sorting laundry begins with "The Dirt Pants".

Despite the well-meaning patches placed preventively inside the knees of these jeans, #5 had shredded through the extra layers in a manner of days. You see, we have an empty lot next to our house. That is, empty except for the piles of fill dirt and broken concrete and rocks. It truly is an adventurous and wonderful place for children to play and climb and forge trails through the head-high grass and just get dirty. Miraculously, #5--who turned five last month--recognized my displeasure when he ruined a series of outfits in a matter of days. So he began calling his hole-filled jeans his "dirt pants". He puts them on whenever he heads for the field, and he makes sure they are in the laundry every Thursday.

With the improved weather, the dirt pants have been put through a lot recently. I didn't even want them coming in and out of the house and transferring their sand and dried mud to my carpets. So I confiscated them a few days early, which left #5 to his other clothes. Here is a sampling of what I get to face on laundry day:

Yes, he was wearing his shoes with those socks. And yes, that is blood on the pants.

This sampling is pretty typical of several other outfits worn by the same boy.

And this is where my house probably differs from those of singles, newlyweds, and empty nesters.

I used to sort clothes by color, and sometimes fabric type. Now I have an added pile of clothes that are too disgusting to be washed with mine. I envision the dirt and blood and sweat and other residues* left by my children in their clothes, and just can't bear to think of my clothes sharing the same water.

*Short tangent: I won't name names or even name "residues", but let's just say that one of my children got to help prep the laundry yesterday. I secured disposable plastic gloves to her hands by snapping rubber bands on the wrists in an effort to prevent contamination. Then she worked at the sink to get two pieces of her particularly offensive clothing clean enough to be allowed into the extra dirty pile.

After pre-treating the clothes with stain remover and/or vinegar and/or alcohol, this impressively dirty pile soaks in the hot, soapy water in the washer for at least 30 minutes before I turn the cycle back on. Then the wash cycle always finishes with a double rinse.

I'm telling myself there must be others like me. Do you separate the especially disgusting clothes from those within normal dirt limits? Any hints on how you get it all clean? Despite my efforts, the clothes from this extra pile come out with dirt ground in and faint stains that mock me.

As I was digging out summer clothes for my kids this week, I found some very nice hand-me-downs that look new. And they come from a house with two boys! How is that possible?! (I was tempted to just hide the beautiful clothes in my room and prep them for sale on ebay so I could buy pre-stained clothes at DI with the money.) PLEASE! Don't hold out on your laundry secrets anymore! Is it possible to get clothes spotless? Or must I simply wait for the first Thursday following #5 getting his pink slip on life as he heads out the door for adulthood?

I really can wait that long. I just wonder if I should hold out hope in the meantime.


Our family said...

I wonder the same thing. I swear my kids can't wear something once and have it still look good. Other people's kids always look so much cleaner than mine, and I've wondered for a long time what they do with laundry that I'm missing. And the holes! We know about holes! I noticed that most of the boys in my #1's school class also have pants full of holes, so I don't care so much about that anymore.

mindy said...

My mom was legendary in her ability to get stains out. My brothers were actually embarrassed about it because she got their football pants GLEAMING white! I think her secret was soaking them in a sinkful of water with Biz, but I am not sure. She also used Fels-Naptha soap, which I have and is quite the powerful stain remover at times.

I've wondered if a trick is to have such a large wardrobe that each item only gets worn once every two weeks or so, as we have gotten IMMACULATE hand me downs, too. (Perhaps from the same two boy family!)

Min said...

I think the only option is to get rid of #5 . . . or let him play naked, which he would probably enjoy too much.