Sunday, June 12, 2011

But What About....? Part 3 – Laundry (Alternatively: “Airing Our Dirty Laundry”)

The question of how we’ll do our laundry was one of my initial questions, and one we frequently get from others. We have 3 practical options for doing our laundry in the future: 1) Use the laundry facility provided by the marina (a key-access room with coin-operated machines), 2) Have an on-board machine (picture a miniaturized washer/dryer combo), or 3) Outsource the entire process to a laundry service (we drop off our dirty clothes and come back later to find them clean and folded).

We have decided upon a combination of option 2 and option 3. We will use a service for most all of our laundry, but will also likely have a small washer/dryer combo on board for small jobs & emergencies (i.e. it’s 10pm on Sunday night and we realize we have no clean underwear).

Now, before you go thinking Eric and I are a couple of divas who are too good to do our own laundry, you need to understand a bit about our laundry history. You see, once you have a sense of what my husband has subjected me to with regards to doing laundry, you will understand my request--no, my demand--that we use a laundry service.

I debated whether or not to even address the issue of laundry because revealing our laundry history is both shameful and completely embarrassing. However, I think providing a bit of context is important to fully understand our decision, so I will forgo humility and reveal all.

Let me start by taking you back in time, to just before Eric and I moved in together. Prior to cohabitating, I lived in a beautiful building, while Eric lived in what can only be described as a slum. My building had a doorman and 24/7 security guard, while Eric’s had bars on the doors and a drunken super who stole tenants’ packages. Mine had gorgeous elevators lit by crystal chandeliers, while his building featured dank hallways and crumbling drywall. Upon seeing Eric’s apartment, his father commented “this looks like the kind of place where people are murdered in the hallways,” as opposed to my former residence which provided complimentary freshly brewed coffee and baked goods on Wednesday mornings. So, why didn’t Eric move into my building? Because mine was nearly twice as expensive (a major factor for two grad students) and it was not as well insulated as Eric’s (a problem in Chicago). In general, his place didn’t bother me--I can make lemonade out of lemons. But, his building’s laundry room was beyond awful. It showcased all that was wrong with his building: It was dark, dank, smelly, murder-scene-reminiscent, and within it lurked the building’s alcoholic super (or his vodka-soaked lady friend). As it happened, we never had a reason to enter the laundry room because the machines didn’t work. Essentially, his building had no laundry facility.

Under most circumstances, I don’t mind doing laundry. Dirty clothes go in; clean clothes come out. Not a big deal. What I do mind is when laundry involves more than what I just described. To solve our laundry predicament, Eric purchased a Wonder Wash, or what I affectionately refer to as the "butter churn.” Compare for yourself:

Wonder Wash vs. Antique Butter Churn

Take a look at this video showing how laundry is done with the butter churn. Please note the user in the video states the butter churn is “not going to take the place of a washer.”

Now, in the video, the Wonder Wash doesn’t look that bad. Seems simple to use, right? Well, it isn’t. A more accurate depiction would have featured a weeping wife kneeling before her rusted bathtub on the crumbling, cold, hard tile of her slum’s bathroom floor, while churning 5lbs of laundry in a plastic bucket, as she cries out “I’m not a pioneer! This isn’t how normal people live!” In addition to this sad picture, the entire process involves getting completely soaked by scorching hot water. You see, the butter churn was so wide we couldn’t fill it with the tub’s faucet--it simply didn’t reach. Eric’s solution: make a faucet extension with an empty plastic Dr. Pepper bottle. That’s right--we cut a hole in a Dr. Pepper bottle and stuck it on the end of the faucet in order to extend its reach. Classy. Of course, this didn’t work well because it was a Dr. Pepper bottle and not actual hardware. Water would spray all over the place and by the end of the entire process, a change of clothes was needed (which only added to the problem). I’m not even going to discuss the “dryer.”

Finally, the butter churn broke; however, my joy was short lived. Eric found some wire and jury rigged the butter churn back together. The butter churn limped on, but not for long. Like all things cobbled together, the mend failed and the butter churn was no more. Eric insists I broke it intentionally, but that is simply not true (not that anyone would blame me if I had).

So, for 2.5 years I put up with the butter churn contraption. Thankfully, our townhouse in KY has an actual washer and dryer, thus marking the beginning of a Golden Age in our laundering. I’m not eager to ever see this new age come to an end. I refuse to go back to anything remotely resembling the butter churn situation, hence, option 3: the laundry service. In addition to being traumatized by the butter churn, the advantage of living on a boat is that we can sail whenever we have free time. Since we want to enjoy sailing, we aren’t going to do laundry while at sea (boat washer/dryer combos also aren’t big enough to use for a full-load anyway). We aren’t going to do laundry at the marina's facility while docked because neither Eric nor I want to spend our evenings running back and forth between our boat and the laundry room. So, while paying a service to do our laundry may seem indulgent to some, I believe it is a price worth paying in order to enjoy our free time and get the most out of boat living.


  1. Eric said he would teach me how to use the butter churn, I politely declined and used that dank laundry room. I'm chuckling at the thought of you doing laundry in that. Sorry Krissy. lol.

  2. I don’t know who had it worse, Jamie. That laundry room was bad! I only went in once and the drunken lady friend of the super was pounding on one of the machines with a stone. I think it was some sort of attempt to fix it.

  3. I love my laundry machines. But that option of sending things out sounds really nice! Mom

  4. Laundry ... such a bother! Here's your chance to Break free!
    Stuff your laundry in an old lobster/crab pot, go sailing, throw it overboard on a line, retrieve after a 45 minute cycle, and hang to dry. When dry, return to port. "Sailing Laundry."
    LoL, Uncle John
    P.S. Sure, gown & tux to the cleaners.

  5. Haha - I like that suggestion, Uncle John! Very green :)