- I was the main launderer of our house for 48 years.
- Retirement and COVID-19 isolation made me realize I was done doing everyone’s laundry.
- My husband and I now do our laundry separately.
I was the main launderer of our household for over 48 years, and honestly, it’d never occurred to me to change that. Over the years, washing machines have become more sophisticated and clothing fabrics have become more varied, so I’ve had to pay even more attention to the job.
But as our children left the nest, my own clothing became more expensive, and my laundry methods became more exacting, I realized I preferred doing my laundry separately from my husband’s. So, blame it on COVID-19 or retirement or just being done with it, but I no longer own the title of household launderer.
This change has made me feel less subservient, and in turn, less resentful. It’s also helped my husband understand that clean clothes result from the effort of doing this task and not through magic.
I was in charge of the whole process before
Before announcing that our laundry was going to be a split effort, I was doing everything from start to finish.
I would transfer the contents of my husband’s hamper to a larger one, carry it downstairs to the laundry room, separate lights and darks, investigate his pockets for loose change and other goodies, and remove belts. Then I would stain-stick spots, wash, dry, and separate his laundry from mine. Then came folding, carting everything back upstairs, and placing his clothes on top of the dresser where it often stayed for days before it was put away.
For a while, when we lived in a midrise condo, I actually dragged the whole hamper to the laundry room in the building’s basement and read magazines during the spin and dry cycles. Then there was a brief time when we were first married that I actually took everything to a neighborhood laundromat. As a young married woman, I did not question that this was my responsibility, but I definitely hated going there.
My husband was unaware of how much work went into our clothes every week. He knows better now.
I decided it was time for separate laundry
One day, fed up with my unofficial job title, I decided to ignore his hamper and mentioned that I would be doing only my own laundry. This small declaration made me feel less servile and unappreciated.
At first, my husband kind of shrugged, deciding it wasn’t a big deal. I agreed to continue to wash towels and sheets because the cleanliness of these items is of interest to me.
My comfort level of doing laundry is to do it every five days or so, separating lights from darks and using a small amount of liquid detergent. The first week, my husband waited about eight days before he decided I wasn’t bluffing.
He heaved his unwieldy rattan hamper down the 13 steps from our bedroom to the laundry level and stuffed the entire contents in the machine. He poured half a cap of liquid detergent into the soap dispenser and selected a medium-level, warm-water setting that would run for a full 60 minutes. He did not conduct any stain treating or pocket checking.
The laundry was eventually transferred to the dryer and then made its way upstairs, where it was met with a new batch of laundry.
After the first few weeks, he started making remarks about how I don’t do his laundry anymore, but nonetheless, he is taking care of his own wash, so it appears we might have created a new behavior pattern. But he does wait until his basket is overflowing.
Now I use my extra time for some yoga or walks in the woods, which I enjoy much more than folding someone else’s clothes.