I realize that there are urgent and important stories making
the news or being under-reported. Nevertheless, I ask your indulgence while I
vent about a seemingly minor topic.
Over the past year, our laundry has frequently piled up. We’ve
often been on the road doing speeches and appearances for two-week periods with
seldom more than two days in one city. Rapid-fire travel has meant packing,
unpacking and repacking without much time to run a few loads in between trips. When
possible, I gladly settle down for a major washing day.
I am truly grateful for the plethora of clothes on the
market. Most years I can even find items to fit my needs. Still, the sheer volume of clothes made me
aware of a problem I have been increasingly noticing. The clothing industry and
I seem to be living in different realities. While I don’t want to sound
curmudgeonly (which probably means I am about to do exactly that) please excuse
me while I voice a pet peeve.
Dear clothing manufacturers: I don’t know who does your laundry,
but I think I speak for many who wash our own clothes. If I am buying an outfit
in which to be introduced to the Queen of England or to wear to a child’s
wedding (one of those events happens more frequently than the other) I will
look at items with a “dry clean only” label. Otherwise, that wording leads me
to move on to the next item. Have you seen dry cleaning prices lately? I prefer
spending money on different options like food and housing.
Perhaps you have a laundress working full-time for you. I am
grateful not to be scrubbing clothes on a rock down by the river, but I load
and unload my washing machine myself. What exactly do you intend to
happen when you label something ‘wash separately’? Seven blouses should take
seven cycles? Get real!
Ditto for ‘hand wash only’. I might on occasion wash a very
special item by hand. However, saving time is more important to me than owning an
item that catches my eye in a store, but demands that I stay up an extra five
minutes at night.
I understand that fear of complaints from litigious
consumers may encourage you to put the most restrictive cleaning instructions
on your labels. This is not without cost. I will callously pass up an item that
says, “hand wash cold” while if it has the option of going in the machine it
may very well make it into my shopping cart.
Am I a laundry curmudgeon? Or do my shopping habits reflect
those of millions?