Looking after yourself and laundry

Clean Linen

Folding laundry.

It’s surprising how much emotion (almost exclusively negative) those two words evoke. Time and again as I read blogs and browse the web I come across declarations of war against laundry. When I googled “folding laundry”, Images offered me an entire collection titled “Hate”.

When it comes to laundry, the best thing about living alone is that all the laundry is yours. You are entirely in control of the amount of laundry you have to deal with. If you want to wear the same t shirt for a couple of days before washing it, that’s entirely up to you, and if doing so lightens the laundry load, that is merely a bonus. (I’m not advocating slovenliness, but if it passes the sniff test, it doesn’t need laundering.)

Like almost everything in my solo life, I have routines for laundry. I do my laundry on Saturday morning. I have a small laundry with washer and dryer in my house, and I remain grateful for this after years of laundromats. It’s hard to hate doing laundry when I’m aware of how easy it is now.

I don’t wash my bedsheets every week. If I’ve been home sick I will, but otherwise they last two weeks – I merely rotate them, because I only sleep on one side of the bed. I will sometimes wear the same running socks and t-shirt twice if they aren’t too ‘aromatic’, but rarely do they last beyond that. My weekly wash generally comprises towels, (and sheets every other week), tops of varying sorts, underwear, and my running gear. It’s not a huge volume and although I usually do two loads to separate lights and darks, it’s not overwhelming.

Then comes folding it. Actually, I don’t hate this part. I like the smell and feel of the clean and dry clothes as they come out of the dryer, and I like feeling the warmth of them as I fold. I carry them through into the sunny front room and fold on the table. It is a pleasurable sensation, the warmth of the sun and the residual warmth from the dryer, as well as the clean-linen smell. And truthfully, nothing takes more than a few seconds to fold and stack.

This morning, as I was folding my pyjamas, I became aware that I was enjoying this time. It’s a task that needs doing, one of those perfectly ordinary things that keep life going, but I became aware that what I was doing was actually an act of taking care of myself. So often, these routine tasks and chores are things I race through to get them done, seeing them as simply necessary to fend off the demons of entropy, without ever really thinking of them as maintaining my well being.

I don’t want to imply that I’ve gained enlightenment and laundry now provides me with access to the mysteries of the universe. My moment of awareness was far more prosaic than that. More along the lines of, “Who knew – laundry is part of looking after myself,  and not just something I have to do.”