Thursday, October 6, 2016

Coming Clean

by Janis Patterson

There’s a cute picture going around Facebook showing an overflowing laundry basket and the caption is something like “I’ve solved the mystery of the ever-full laundry basket – there must be people living here whom I’ve never met.”

It would be funnier if it weren’t too close to true. Our laundry basket is an enormous wicker basket which in another house in another decade held a decent-sized potted ficus tree. When we moved, the tree itself was given to a neighbor who actually wanted the thing (if I’d known he wanted it I would have given it to him long ago!) and I lined the basket for use as a laundry basket. It was big enough that I thought it would hold a week or more’s laundry without a problem.


The basket has a new name. According to The Husband, it is the Magic Laundry Basket. According to me, it is the Cursed Laundry Basket. I can do a laundry that totally empties the basket one day and the next it is brimming again. I’d swear The Husband must change clothes half-a-dozen times a day, but as I see him regularly I know that’s not true. As I work at home, more often than not I end up wearing my jammies all day long unless I have some place to go, and that is rare.

So where do all these clothes come from? If I had the money and the expertise, I would put GPS trackers on them just to find out where they go and what they have been doing… and with whom.

Another problem is facial tissues. You know, like Kle… those tissues with the name that’s copyrighted and we’re not supposed to use, but let’s face it – a facial tissue by any name is a laundry menace. Like a good wife I go through The Husband’s pockets when sorting the wash, where I find a fair number of wadded up tissues. Those are disposed of and explained easily; other things seem to have no explanation. There are coins, of course, which I promptly confiscate and put in my own private rathole bank. Every year or two I’ve saved enough to take us out for a fairly nice dinner as a special, unexpected treat. Less felicitous finds are a drill bit (he is not in the least handy), an Allen wrench, all kinds of indecipherable notes scribbled on odd scraps of paper, mints and empty mint wrappers, odd little chunks of metal that have no identifiable purpose, once in a rare while a loose key… you know, the kind of detritus that is both commonplace and unexplainable.

At least we had no children. Girls are notorious for leaving cosmetics and candy in pockets, and boys… oh, law, what don’t they leave in pockets, including things like beetles and frogs that are still living. Or not. Ick!

I try to practice what I preach. I have a box of facial tissues on my desk and by my seat on the couch in the TV room – and a wastebasket close by each. None ever go into a pocket. For any other situation, I use handkerchiefs. Yes, old fashioned fabric handkerchiefs. Hankies. Not because I am a swooning romantic, or because I occasionally write historical romance, or because I am a fussy old lady (those of you who know me well BE QUIET!), but because if you leave a hankie in your pocket, after it comes out of the wash you only have a knotted lump of fabric, still in that same pocket. A tissue… well, you have little bits of tissue ‘dandruff’ over everything and anything, and it can take a wash or two to get rid of it. Either that or a long, boring time spent with a lint brush or strips of tape.

My beloved mother-in-law and sister-in-law, truly two of God’s blessings on me, jumped for joy when they found I liked handkerchiefs. I will admit that I am picky and hard to buy for, so they delight in finding me handkerchiefs. My last birthday I received eight exquisite lace/drawn work/embroidered antique hankies, all handmade in Europe and in perfect condition. They are so gorgeous I am going to have to force myself to use them; I’ve already decided that they will be held back for special occasions only. Normally hankies live a hard life with me, but I don’t worry about running out – thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law and sister-in-law, I have enough hankies to last me at least two lifetimes.

And none will ever pill up and leave little white bits all over a load of laundry!


  1. Janis, I, too, have a dreaded laundry basket that fills no matter how often I wash. I have to admit, though, that I don't mind doing laundry or even ironing (my friends think I'm crazy), but, like you, I do hate picking tissue bits out of the wash. Ugh.

  2. Some things should just never go out of fashion and real, honest-to-goodness cloth hankies is near the top of the list.

  3. Funny you should mention cloth hankies. I thought my husband was the last of the breed that uses them. I think they're fine, but I hate ironing and refuse to do them. My husband makes do with me washing and folding them. I guess I should be grateful since I don't have to pick tissue bits out of the wash!

  4. No sooner do I empty mine than it begins to fill up again. It's the same thing with the dishwasher. Endless daily tasks. My mom called it 'housework' and then said... "There's more to life than housework"! She was always right....