At home, sorting, doing and folding laundry is one of my favorite
pastimes chores. (For the record, I also enjoy doing the dishes but detest vacuuming.)
But when I’m in France, laundry is the source of much angst, and for good reason: French washing machines decimate clothes.
The washing machine chez Maurice is a peculiar beast. It lives outside (I can’t wait to do laundry in the dead of winter!), connects via hose to an outdoor sink, and only digests liquid detergent (it just can’t stomach powder or tablets).
Already familiar with the violent disposition of French washing machines (thanks to my semester abroad in Nantes), the first time I did a load in Auch, I thought I’d best the beast’s rough-and-tumble nature and opted for the delicate cycle.
After a minor snafu—there was a 15-minute period when the washer door was locked and water remained in the tank even though the cycle had ended. I remedied this by running the spin cycle, which apparently doesn’t kick in automatically after the delicate wash cycle…go figure—I was finally able to remove my clothes, only to discover that several items had to be mended.
Granted, most of the problem garments were older and well-worn, with holes appearing along the seams—no big surprise there.
The outlier was a pair of underwear whose fabric had been torn apart. While underwear definitely qualifies as a delicate and is often ruined in washing machines, this particular pair is made of sturdy cotton (read: not flimsy lace), so I’d assumed it would be safe…
Needless to say, I’ve become well acquainted with the ancient sewing kit my housemates and I discovered in the attic and have since taken to washing most things by hand.