the mans guide to doing laundry

One of the best things about being a male homosexual (and believe be, there are many) is that when you marry, move in with, secretly stalk, or engage in any other committed relationship with another man, you immediately double your wardrobe. It's kind of like a sorority; clothing is exchanged freely amongst its members, utilized when necessary, and only returned when stolen back by its original owner, it's pretty awesome. But alas, eventually all of those clothes end up in the same hamper (read: on the same floor) and must be dealt with. 

Truth be told, laundering clothes it is by far one of my favorite activities. I enjoy the act of doing laundry for many reasons, the most obvious reason is that like most household chores, I can drink during the process; but also because I have developed an ultra-efficient method of completing the task. It is this system which I share with you today.  

To be clear, this system is not going to work if there is a girl in the house. Just as with most any activity, the introduction of a girls presence can make laundry complicated and confusing. They have articles of clothing that don't follow the rules in which I have become familiar and the synthetic composition of their undergarments are strange and often require special rules regarding their cleansing; rules which luckily, gay men will never have to learn. As such, I will go my entire life without ever having to deal with a brassiere hanging from the shower curtain rod or knowing what in gods name the delicate cycle is for. The simplification into a more gender specific garment washing process has allowed me to streamline the operation for a single sex household; the resulting implications can be exploited to not only save time during the process itself, but it also serves to eliminate many common frustrations typically associated with daily clothing selection. 

For example, rather than separating dirty items into piles according to color, I instead separate them into piles according to item types. All shirts are in one load; all pants in another; all underwear, pajamas and towels are placed in a load together. The remaining unavoidable rogue pile consists of all the ‘whites’ and as luck would have it, this pile is comprised almost exclusively of socks and T-shirts because men do not have white pants unless they are REALLY GAY and do not have white underwear unless they are REALLY BRAVE. Luckily, no such flamboyance or bravery exists at our house. 

Once the like items have been grouped together the loads must then be washed and dried, but the order of washing is also important. The first load to be washed is the underwear/towel/pj load. The reasoning behind this is two fold: 1) if you are doing laundry, that means you are probably out of underwear and the clock is ticking on that overworked boxer/brief you are currently wearing, so the sooner the better. 2) this is the most annoying load to fold because it's comprised of so many different elements. Folding a bunch of towels is easy, but folding a bunch of random things totally sucks so you want to get this out of the way first while you are still early in the process to avoid ‘laundry burn-out’ later. But take note: all clean socks should be immediately placed into a separate pile until every load has been washed and dried, because even though you thought you got all the socks during your pre wash separation, you inevitably missed several dozen that were hiding in a random shirt like some sort of coward sock soldier in the trenches during a military air strike. So set aside all the socks until the very end to make sure they are all accounted for before dealing with them.

Moving on, the pj/towel/underwear load is the only load (besides the whites) that can (and often should) be washed in warm or hot water. Nothing is going to shrink that much and if your black underwear fades a few shades no one is going to care. Plus it will help keep your towels from acquiring that unexplained sour milk smell. All other non-white loads should be washed in cold water on medium speed. This continuity for the next few loads will save some time during the between-load appliance reprograming portion of your laundry doing endeavors.

One you put this first load into the dryer, your next two loads are shirts followed by jeans/pants, or vice versa, it doesn't matter. Pants are easy to fold and this is especially true when folding them in bulk. Just make sure that when folding jeans, the tag on the back indicating the manufacturer and size are facing up when stacked in a post-fold formation, that way pants eligibility can easily be ascertained during the daily pants selection process. This is especially important if you both don't have the same waist size (which of course you don't because he has really let himself go over the years) and no one wants to put on a pair of jeans only to discover they don't fit as it negatively effects both productivity and self esteem. 

T-shirts are more difficult to fold than pants but can still be done efficiency and quickly when folded consecutively and en masse. I always just pretend like I'm a Gap employee following a customer around the store folding the shirts they discard while making snide comments out-loud resulting in shoppers mistakingly believing that those comments are intended for a fellow associate on the other end of my annoyingly noticeable headset based communication system. When in fact my imaginary headset is not turned on and those comments are actually being directed towards sloppy shirt shoppers whose mess I am begrudgingly reorganizing. Such comments include: “I told you that would happen, what a total Chad!” And “He would like that!” and the ever popular “Oh my god, as if?!”

T-shirts should then be separated into the following piles, 1) stand alone shirts. These are T-shirts which can be worn in public and are generally acceptable without additional layers to compliment them. Such as: shirts with logos of soccer teams you've never heard of and shirts advertising cheep domestic beers; you know, the shirts you wear out to the bar to trick people into thinking you’re cooler than you actually are, those shirts. 2) work shirts. This is the pile of shirts you wear with pajamas, shirts you wear around the house, shirts worn when painting or doing a similar activity you aren’t qualified for. These are the shirts you can get dirty and not give a damn about. 3) sweatshirt substitutes and collared shirts. These are the shirts that didn't make the cut for the dry cleaning pile. All long sleeve collarless shirts and short sleeve collard shirts go in this pile. Tip: button the shirt all the way up before you fold it and fix the collar last, after its folded. 

Now that the shirts are done, the last load to go into the machines is the whites. There are many reasons for cleaning the whites last but the main reason is improving laundry time management. You see, it's likely that at this point in the process you have drunken too much wine to still feel compelled to complete the laundry for the day. As such this load is best washed overnight, because when done correctly it should take no less than 2 hours to complete its cycle.

Allow me to explain: in order to keep your white clothing as white as humanly possible you must 1) use bleach, Oxyclean, and soap. Yes, all three. And 2) set the temperature to HOT and use the most embarrassing sounding setting on the washer. Somewhere deep within your washers custom settings is a wash delightfully reserved for "fecal matter" or "blood/urine" this is the one you want.

Yes, this combination will annihilate your clothing, leaving some items damaged and fabric distraught, but I guarantee you that those clothes will be whiter than a Subaru driver when they’re done. And since the entire load is mostly socks and oversized comfy T-shirts you aren't doing damage to anything that will likely be seen by anyone who matters. Doing this load at night also reduces the chances of running a wash during potential showering times. 


Step 1: Dump

Step 2: Sort

Once this load and the shirts contained within it are folded all you should be left with is socks. Similar socks should be sorted in to piles prior to their final matchings. Finally, fold the socks in your method of choice and take the remaining unmatchable “spinster” socks and put them back into the dirty laundry hamper where they will continue to be cycled through unused, abused and discarded until they either disappear mysteriously or you die, whichever comes first. 

Step 3: Sock Pyramid

At this point in the process you will have a table full of clean clothing neatly folded and ready to be placed back into circulation before the cat discovers them and makes a nest in your newly constructed sock pyramid. Also, it is far more efficient to put all of the clothes away at once upon completion than to make multiple unnecessary trips to the same dresser drawer throughout the process. Or, if your other half has been sitting there watch the Voice on TV this entire time feel free to leave him a subtle hint by putting only your clothes away, leaving piles of his clothing behind for him to later find and become aware of your disapproval. Anyways, regardless of your chosen method of laundry finalization you can now rest assured that you have completed the task in the most effective way possible.

Happy folding,

the guy in the hat