Laundry around the world…

Peculiarly, caring for our clothing is somewhat of a hobby of mine. Perhaps, I was a laundress in another lifetime (not to say there is such a thing as another lifetime). Perhaps, I slept in a laundry basket as a baby.

It began when I was quite young, this fascination with laundry.  The middle of three sisters, I was assigned the task of washing, folding and ironing the family’s wardrobe when I was 10 years old. I didn’t mind at all. 

In grade school I attended a “girls only” home economics class (remember that, babyboomers?) where I learned to iron a man’s 100% cotton long sleeved dress shirt from the inside out in two minutes flat.  Failure to do a perfect job resulted in a brisk slap on the hands with a wooden ruler. (Can you imagine what would happen to that teacher in this day and age?)

Over many months, my hands were red and bruised every Thursday after the class.  I didn’t cry or complain to my parents. Determined to get it right, I practiced at home, night after night with a clunky old Sunbeam iron and a wobbly ironing board, often leaving rusty iron stains on my father’s old white dress shirt.

In time, I became the best “ironer” in the class. By the end of the school year I was presented with a pink and white certificate. Not only were my shirts the most neatly ironed in class, but I was able to accomplish the feat in 90 seconds flat.  I’d make a good housewife someday. This was 1958.  

Over the years, my ironing skills honed as irons improved and I could iron a dress shirt in 60 seconds, still doing so today.  

Folding is also quite enjoyable.  I love laundry. Putting away?  Not so much.

In this old house, the laundry is located in our creepy, cobwebbed basement, a full flight of stairs and long walk away. I don’t mind. The exercise is good, up and down, six times a day, to accomplish a mere two loads of wash.

Six flights a day, on average, over the past 26 years and I’ve run up or down, 56,940 flights of stairs!  I’d probably weight 100 more pounds had our laundry room been on the main floor.  I like laundry.

Of course, as time marches on toward the beginning of our year’s long world travels, I can’t help but think about laundry. 

Here are my concerns while living in vacation homes:

  1. Will the washers and dryers work efficiently in each of our rental homes?
  2. Will there be a nearby laundromat in the event one or both doesn’t work or in the case of the Stone House in Cajarc, France with no washer or dryer in the house at all?
  3. Will I be able to remove wrinkles with our new dual voltage steam iron?  
After considerable research, I have discovered that most cruise ships, on which we’ll spend almost one third of our time during the first five months, have no self service laundry facilities. This was both surprising and disappointing to me, far beyond my personal pleasure in doing our laundry, for the following reasons:
  1. Sending out a single tee shirt to be laundered by the ship’s staff may cost upwards of $4! Can you imagine the cost of an entire load of laundry? Including the tips payable for the staff person returning the items to the cabin and two loads of laundry may cost $100!
  2. Irons are not allowed on cruise ships and are confiscated upon entry, an obvious safety hazard (I get this). Thus, one must “send out a dress, shirt or suit coat” to be ironed, costing more than $15 each.  Ouch!  Hopefully, we can depend on that steamer.
  3. Piling up dirty underwear, socks, tee shirts and daily wear to repack in one’s suitcase is rather unappealing. Some of our cruises two weeks or longer. How many pairs of dirty underpants will we accumulate between the two of us and how much space will they take in our otherwise stuffed bags?  No, we won’t turn our underpants inside out and wear them again the next day!  No, thank you!  Dirty socks?  Yuck!!!
My little brain went to work on these realities. As for the vacation homes, we’ll just have to wing it, unaware of what we are up against until we arrive.  If the facilities are not manageable, we’ll plan a weekly outing, doubled up with other activities when we’re already renting a car and make the trip to the local laundromat a fun experience,  playing cards or reading aloud while we wait.  

I’d more than be willing to go to the laundromat without Tom, laundress that I am, but Tom insists that he’ll join me. In certain areas one won’t be safe alone at the laundromat. Daily laundry as I have known, most likely will be a thing of the past. Also, I surrender the fact that I will not be ironing unless an iron is provided.  

As for the cruises, my fingers went flying across the keyboard searching for a solution. In reading reviews at varying cruise websites, I noticed a common comment: many cruises purposely don’t have bathroom sinks with a closing drain.  Here is our solution to washing our own underwear, tee shirts, and small items, purchased from
Laundry Pack w/ Sink Stopper  Price  $16

Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets, 50-Count

Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets, 50-Count

by Travelon

List Price: $7.19
Price: $4.42 ($0.28 / oz) & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details
You Save: $2.77 (39%)

I purchased four of the above laundry packets which fit into the palm of my hand weighing only a few ounces.  These will provide us with 200 sinks-full of wash.  With the above clothes line that suctions inside the shower walls plus soap for my delicate items, we’ll save $100’s while cruising, leaving instead with a small load to deal with at our next vacation home.

Traveling the world for several years with no home, no place to return to repack, restock and replenish, all of these items will save us money, frustration and most of all, precious time doing that which we love, for me; a lot of love and laughter, a touch of adventure, and a little bit of laundry; for Tom, a lot of love and laughter, a touch of adventure and a smile while watching me do laundry. Ah, life is good.

We’ll have bug bites, we’ll be hot and sweaty, the bed will be lumpy, our feet will be tired, we’ll leave a shoe behind, a flight will be cancelled and a vacation home won’t be as described online.  But, in any case, our clothes will be clean.