Hand wash only

Many of the clothes that I buy are labeled “hand wash only”, “dry flat” or even worse yet “dry clean only”. I usually choose to interpret these labels as suggestions rather than meaningful commands, although I always pay great respect to that “do not iron” symbol. As you may have guessed, I’m not a huge fan of doing laundry to begin with and with the amount of laundry that we seem to produce, I rarely have time to “hand wash”, space to “dry flat”, or enough money to “dry clean only”.

Sometimes my rebellious nature gets me in trouble, like when I gave up air drying one of my favorite shirts hoping that I could have it dry in time to wear out that night. It shortly emerged from the dryer less than half its original size and not wearable that night or ever again, well, not by an adult anyway.

There is also that dry clean only skirt that completely changed colors after its first washing. At least I dried that one flat and I suppose that I don’t mind the new color all that much, after all, at least it can be machine washed from now on and (un?) fortunately,  I do not have to worry about it getting tossed in the dryer anytime soon.

In fact, I may not have to worry about it being machine washed again anytime soon either.

This morning we met with our relocation consultant here in Chennai who promised us an apartment by August 1. This is the same apartment that was promised to us for July 17. The one that we should be living in instead of this hotel room.

August 1 is in five days and I highly doubt that it will be ready by then as things tend to happen at a much slower pace here. When she then mentioned that they would try to have the washing machine installed by August 1, the  last shreds of my hopes and dreams were squashed. The reality of this situation is that if the washing machine isn’t there already, I have my doubts that the inside of that apartment will ever see a washer, at least not other than the one named Brittany.

I haven’t used a washing machine in two weeks. Instead, I have been washing my clothes in a sink using body wash. Clearly not the end of the world. In fact, I do this all the time on vacation because my refusal to check luggage means that I need to pack super light.

The real issue is the air dry portion of the hand wash, unfortunately that isn’t going away. After my first load of laundry, I quickly learned that hanging clothes in the bathroom to dry yields unbearably mildewy results. [Insert re-hand wash here.]

Next, I considered hanging my clothes on one of our two hotel room balconies. No dice. The balconies are just for show, you can’t actually get onto them. [Yes, sad that it took me several days to figure that out.]

Finally, I gave in to the idea of hanging my laundry all over the living area of this 680 sq. ft. room. It is big for a hotel room, but after being crammed in here for a week the extra clutter of laundry draped everywhere makes me feel a little bit claustrophobic. Again a superficial complaint. The real, legitimate, problems with this situation are:

  • The totally awkward feeling that I have when my rainbow of underwear is hanging up all over the place when the housekeeping guys come in to clean my room. I already make them uncomfortable by hanging out in running shorts all day, the underwear can’t be improving that situation.

[Note to self: You should not have shipped your sweatpants, it turns out that 90 degree weather does require them and there is a good chance that your shipment may never clear customs.]

  • The mildew stench that my clothing gets if it does not dry fast enough. Running gear seems to be ok (hence me wearing it 24/7, well, in the room anyway) and certain paper thin t-shirts seem to dry quick enough. Everything else…blech.

Does anyone have experience with air drying clothes in an extremely humid environment? Southerners? Anybody? Suggestions? I see a drying rack in my future, but I’m not sure how much that will help with the mildew problem. I can’t imagine smelling like mildew for months on end. Furthermore, I can’t imagine continuing the ridiculous amount of hand re-washing that has been going on.

Feeling thankful for my washer and dryer at home in spite of my normal reluctance to use them.

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9 comments
  1. Jena said:

    Oh dear. I don’t try very many things outside the dryer, but when I do I lay them flat, or on the back of a chair….pretty much like you are already doing. I’ve never had an issue with a mildew smell though – not sure about that. YAY for being able to travel and live over seas, but OMG The stress that comes with it. and what do you mean your stuff may never clear customs? what happened with that?

    • Brit said:

      I don’t know what will happen with that yet. I am probably exaggerating there, I am just doubtful that it will clear soon.

      I’m finding that hanging the clothes right in front of the air conditioning vent helps some, although I can only hang so many items there at a time.

  2. How ironic the hotel has great exercise equipment but no access to a washer or dryer. Is there a laundery service in Chennai you can get while your living there?

    Not sure about the drying part, but I’d take anything with a mildew-y smell and soak it in the sink with a dash white vinegar before you re-wash.

    • Brit said:

      Technically the hotel has a laundry service, but it is not expensable and it is very pricey, so we are trying to avoid it at all costs. Plus, most of my workout stuff and all of my underwear is “do not iron” because they are synthetic materials and ALL laundry gets ironed here, that is how they dry it when you have it done. That is my fear with taking it to a laundry service…they will iron all of my un-ironables.

      In theory I can ask them not to iron my stuff, but in practice, the answer to most questions here is “Yes, of course ma’am.” Unfortunately that doesn’t mean jack.

      The vinegar is a really good idea. I’ll get on that one fast! I’m thinking that when I can open the windows of an apartment and ventilate better that I may be able to dry things more quickly.

  3. Get a fan?! That would definitely help speed up the drying.
    I remember how much fun laundry was when I was living in Korea for two months…in a small dorm room with three other roommmates. Yeah, lots of fun!
    Have fun.. 😉

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