My in-laws suffer from a genetic disorder called laundryphilia. This abnormal love for doing laundry seems incurable and is passed on from generation to generation. Spouse’s grandmother rubbed her fingers into oblivion on the washing board. My mother-in-law takes pleasure in washing particular garments on particular days of the week. One daughter gets a kick out of washing weird things, like toothbrushes. The other goes for quantity rather than quality: she managed to kill her machine in a few years by using it four to six times a day.
Occasionally, the disorder wreaks havoc. I was enjoying a coffee on a quiet Saturday morning when I heard the sound of a waterfall coming from my study. I ran upstairs and found that the room’s basin was overflowing. There was a distinct smell of detergent and I saw bits of purple fluff in the puddles on the floor. Something was blocking the drain of the washing machine: its wastewater was looking for a way out.
It appeared that Spouse had decided to wash our doormat. “Did you look at its washing instructions?” I asked. Yes, she did. “Did it say you could wash the doormat?” No, it didn’t. But Spouse had decided she knew better than Ikea. “There are other ways to clean a doormat,” I ventured while we mopped the floor, “like using a brush”. Obviously, I had no idea what I was talking about.
In the week that followed, Spouse spent her evenings either in the DIY shop or crouched behind the washing machine. She poured soda into the drain and poked it with rods and knitting needles. To no avail. Occasionally, I parked our garbage container next to the washing machine. After each washing, I rolled 45 liters of rinse water to our bathroom, which I emptied in the tub.
Spouse finally unblocked the drain it by sawing most of the pipes away. Apart from a small leak, our washing machine seems to be working properly again. The doormat is less lucky: what’s left of it will have to go. It will be the cleanest object in the garbage dump.