By Mordechai Schmutter

Now that Tishah B’Av is over, we can finally do all the things that we couldn’t do for the past few weeks. We can go to weddings, listen to music, and eat meat in the swimming pool… But mostly what we’re doing is laundry.

Well, by “we,” we mean “my wife.”

Not that I don’t help out around the house. I do. But my wife doesn’t really let me help with the laundry, because she’s afraid I’m going to mess it up. I don’t know how. What is she so scared I’ll do?

“Oh. Washing machine and THEN dryer!”

I’ve lost socks, though. It wasn’t my fault. This happens to everyone. We get single socks back from the laundry, and we know we bought them in pairs. We didn’t buy one sock and then go from store to store trying to find another that matched it. And we also know that we took them off at the same time. We didn’t take one off on Tuesday and the other one the following Tuesday.

I have theories. My current theory is: You know how sometimes the laundry shrinks or stretches clothes? Well, what if you accidentally shrink one sock and stretch the other? Then they look like they came from two different pairs, and you’ll think you have two singles even though you only put one pair in the washing machine, total.

Maybe they’re not disappearing; they’re just going in different directions.

Laundry is always a big point of contention in our house, because my wife feels like she’s always doing laundry, and she partially blames me, even though I’m one person, and how much laundry does one person create? One person’s worth, right?

Wrong. Because I also tidy up sometimes, to make up for not doing laundry, and when I clean the kids’ room, I find a lot of clothes on the floor. And I have no idea whether they’re clean or dirty. I can’t even tell you right now, without looking down, what color shirt I’m wearing today. I definitely don’t know what my kids have and haven’t worn yet this week.

So I throw it all in the laundry basket, because I figure that either it’s dirty because they wore it, or it has to get washed because it’s been on the floor. Because once clothes touch the floor, you can’t wear them anymore. It’s like food. (Well, maybe you’d still eat the food. It’s like soup.) Never mind that kids spend most of the day on the floor, and will cheerfully wear the same clothes for several days past the point where you’ve already told them that they’ve been wearing the clothes for several days. They come out of the bath and then they put the same socks back on.

But if I find them on the floor, they go in the laundry.

So I fill the baskets pretty quickly, and my wife is relatively certain that most of it hasn’t been worn for the past several laundry cycles, unless the kids are secretly trying on clothes in their room after bedtime.

But I don’t know what she’s complaining about. In the old days, women had to go down to the river and beat their clothes with rocks. (I don’t know that the rocks made the clothes cleaner, but they did slightly alleviate the stress of having to go to the river.) But my point is that they didn’t have washing machines.

On the other hand, neither do we. Well, we do have one, but it has this slight medical condition where, while it’s running, it makes a huge reverberating banging noise. If I had to guess, I’d say it sounds like our washing machine is beating our clothes with rocks. So it might be on its last legs, because, near as I can tell, rocks are not good for the machine. And I’m pretty sure that, seeing as the day after Tishah B’Av is International Laundry Day, our machine is going to have a nervous breakdown.

Sure, we’ve looked into fixing it, and we’ve found that doing so would cost about as much as getting a new machine. But which machine? So we decided to leave the washing-machine shopping to my wife, and she’s been at it for a while. I’m not rushing her, because:

A. I don’t use the washing machine, and

B. I’m pretty sure than when she does buy one, I’m going to have to carry it down to the basement, which is not as easy as it sounds.

Why on earth do we keep these things in the basement?

Sure, I realize that not all houses have washing machines in the basement. But having them on other levels of the house is a relatively new thing, and our home is not. For years and years, washing machines were relegated to the basement, because that’s where the servants lived. And as inconvenient as it was, it was still more convenient than going to the river.

So our washing machine is in the basement, which is a pretty silly design flaw, because we hardly ever go to the basement, except to do laundry. Who gets dressed in the basement?

Sure, some people don’t have to worry about schlepping clothes down two flights of stairs, because they have a laundry chute, which is when you stick your clothes into a hole in the wall, and it somehow ends up in the basement. But even for those people, there’s no chute for sending clothes back up. They should have pneumatic tubes, like at the bank.

Also, if your machines are  in the basement, you don’t actually know when they’re done, so laundry basically takes all day, because you overestimate, or in my case (when I do laundry), forget about it completely. Sure, the dryer has a buzzer, but the washing machine doesn’t have any kind of signal.

Well, ours does. We just go down when the banging stops.

So my wife has been looking for a while, and it turns out there are two washer styles–front loaders and top loaders. Our thought was to get a top loader, because that’s what we have now, and both our parents have top loaders, so apparently, that’s our minhag. Also, my minhag is to come at the washing machine halfway through the load and put in things we forgot to put in originally, and this can get very messy with a front loader.

Actually, it can’t, because front loaders have an electronic locking mechanism. So that’s another reason to get a top loader.

Except that my wife looked into it, and nowadays, just about all top loaders lock too, for some reason. And when she asked why, she was told it was a safety feature. I guess so no one climbs in in the middle of the cycle.

But how is staying locked a safety feature? What if someone’s already in there?

So my wife was told that there is a way to electronically override the locking mechanism. In other words, they’re not safe, because if I asked you who is going to figure out your technology first–you or your kids–it’s not going to be you.

My wife’s main concern about the electronic override was: What if there’s a power outage? Because if you do laundry every day, and your washing machine is always running, the chances of that are insane. And she was told that no, you can’t get your stuff out until the power goes back on, but why would you want it anyway? It’s wet!

So my wife considered that really good news, seeing as every time there’s a hurricane, we seem to lose power, and that last time it was for more than a week. It was like the Nine Days, but without refrigeration. So why not do it with no Laundromat option, and things growing in the washing machine?

So for now, we’re still using our old machine, because the clothes are coming out clean, and we can open the machine in the middle of the load to find out what that banging sound is. And the noise is not a big deal if you don’t sleep in the basement. Ï–

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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