Monday, February 24, 2014

How to do Laundry

Most everything takes longer in Italy than it does elsewhere. For example, it takes us all morning to do simple errands like going to the grocery store, the pharmacy and the bank because we Ryan runs into about 20 people that he knows and then we have to stop and chat and have about 5 coffees with them before continuing on. It took us one month to get our internet hooked up. And it takes three days to do a few loads of laundry.

We are having a HARD time with the laundry this winter. Our washing machine is located in our kitchen and fits approximately six socks per load and takes one and a half hours to complete one cycle. And then do you know what we do when that cycle is finally done? Hang it outside to dry because we don't have a dryer. This is not uncommon here as the living quarters are smaller, so only necessities like refrigerators and sinks are squeezed into each kitchen.

In Italy it is considered VERY BAD BEHAVIOR to dry your laundry inside. It brings too much moisture into the house, and these old houses, they cannot HANDLE moisture. Since you have to dry the clothes outside, you really can't do laundry on a day that's not sunny or else the clothes won't dry. An ideal day, one Italian woman told me, is one that is perfectly sunny without a cloud in the sky, but one that is also slightly windy. Not so windy that the clothes blow off the rack or the balcony railing, but windy enough that they lightly blow in the breeze, imitating a tumble dry low cycle.

This would be an ideal day:


This is an UN-ideal day, but is what it looked like for most of January, and all of February:


Unfortunately, this winter it snowed A LOT so we mostly walked around in stinky clothes. When I couldn't take it anymore, I began to do laundry not only on the one sunny day we were blessed with every two weeks, but on the cloudy days as well. I broke the cardinal rule of laundry-doing and I dried the clothes inside. I hung them on our radiators and over the shower door. I placed our huge laundry rack smack in the middle of our tiny living room and when we needed to watch the Olympics on TV, I moved it into the hall.

But then our little house was like "NO MORE MOISTURE PLEEEEEASE!!!" I noticed a crack creeping up the living room wall and a patch of mold growing in the corner behind the chest. So I banished the laundry back to the great outdoors.

One night, Ryan came home from practice at 9:30 and asked me if I knew that the laundry was still outside on the balcony, now frozen.

"Yes," I said, "I'm trying a new experiment."
"What's that?" he asked.
"I leave the laundry outside overnight like I've seen the woman who lives down the street do. It freezes during the night and then thaws out and hopefully dries on the second day," I tell him, "and then we bring it in and see if it smells like mildew."
"Oh," said my very tolerant husband, "okay."

They say people in Italy have fewer clothes because they have smaller closets but this is a myth that I am here to bust. It's because they have small washing machines and no dryers.