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On Sunny Lane: Washing Clothes

There are as many philosophies about washing clothes as there are people who wash them

When I was first learning to wash clothes, my philosophy was that everything goes in dirty and everything comes out clean. My mother soon showed me the error of my ways.

We had a wringer washer. Mom said you had to put the white clothes in to wash first, while the water was hot and soapy. From there they went through the wringer into the clear, hot rinse water.

The second load was colored clothes and the third load, if there was one, was colored clothes, too, only darker than the second load.

The last load to be washed was the dirty work clothes. However, all of the clothes were hung outside on the clothesline to dry.

Eventually, I stopped using a wringer washer and learned how to use an automatic washer and dryer at the Laundromat. There were lots of choices for the size of the load, temperature, and color, as well as, the type of clothing.

As time went by, I got my own automatic washer, although I still prefer to dry my clothes outside.

The automatic washer is safer and more efficient for me. Even though I would fold the buttons on the inside of the clothes before putting them through the wringer, I would lose a button now and then.

When Mom was in the hospital before she passed away, I broke off all of the buttons on her dress while putting it through the wringer. I was glad I didn’t have to tell her that bad news.

So, anyway, clothing now has labels that explain how to wash it, as well as the instructions for drying and ironing—if needed.

Well, just recently, I read an article in a national magazine that was supposed to be the final word in clothes washing. The plan is to wash everything in cold water to save energy and to wash everything according to color.

It does not matter if they are undergarments or jeans, or something in between. If they are the same color, they go in the washer together. Soil level does not seem to be a consideration.

Now I am really confused. Which way is the right way? Maybe I was right in the first place. Everything goes in dirty and everything comes out clean.

I AM sure about one thing, though. If there’s any money in the bottom of the washer when the washing is done—it’s mine!

Dorothy is the author of two books—“Miles and Miracles” and “Getting It All Together “. You can purchase a book or make a comment by emailing her at

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