Laundering Secrets of the Middle-Class and Only Marginally Famous

July 19, 2006 @ 5:01 am | Filed under:

I had to think about whether I was going to reveal this ground-breaking discovery to you, dear readers, but so many of you expressed envy interest in my eight-year hiatus from laundry that I decided it was only fair to pass on the extraordinary Secret to Excellence in Laundering I singlehandedly developed in my very first week back on the job.

Oh, yes, I am not a complete rookie in the Cleaning of Clothing business. There are mountains of freshly washed garments in my hidden past. My laundering experience goes back all the way to high school, when I became a master in the art of folding baggy poly-cotton shirts and knit stirrup pants. It was during the nine months I lived in the hospital with wee Jane that I passed my dryer sheets to Scott, and when he decided to quit actual paying work and become a freelancer, I very graciously allowed him to continue with the lugging of clothes to the laundromat and the scrounging for quarters in the sofa cushions prior to the lugging. Because that’s how nice I am.

But one might expect one’s skills—honed to perfection though they be—to grow rusty during eight years of neglect. Not so in my case. Why, it was on only my second load this week that I made my Startling Discovery, which I shall share with you, my loyal readers, in this sneak preview of the upcoming infomercial that will doubtless make me a millionairess.

For ultra-clean clothing, put garments IN the washer while the wash cycle is running, not on the floor in front of the machine.

You heard me right. Amazing breakthrough, isn’t it? This revolutionary technique will exponientally increase what we laundry experts call "the Clean Factor." The sudsy water in your electronic washtub will whisk all dirt away.

You may thank me now.

How, you ask, did I make this astonishing discovery? (On my infomercial, a guest 70s-era actor will ask this question with very wide eyes. Final casting decisions are still pending. Front-runners: Alison Arngrim and Mike Lookinland.) Well, [Mike or Alison], it was simple. Drawing upon my laundering expertise from previous years, I had followed the manufacturer’s guidelines for commencing a wash cycle. As the tub filled with water, I added liquid detergent in the recommended amount. Next, I sorted our soiled clothing by colors. Selecting the pink-and-red pile for the first round of cleansing, I heaped the clothes on the floor in front of the washing machine as the water continued to pour into the basin.

Housekeeping experts recommend using this wait time to tackle some other minor, short-term task. Accordingly, I did so, finding plenty of tasks with which to occupy my time in other areas of the house. Some time later, my darling daughter Jane passed by the washer and noticed that it was sitting full of sudsy water with the lid open. She called out to report this fact to me. I hollered sweetly and in lilting tones called back to ask her to close the lid, thus allowing the washing machine to enter the next phase of its Cleaning Process.

Some time later, just as the spin cycle was shuddering to a stop, I returned to our Home Laundry Center and investigated the pile of red and pink clothing on the floor in front of the machine. Hmm, I thought, this really does not meet my Very High Standards of Cleanliness in Clothing.

That’s when I had my remarkable idea. Suppose—

(Suspenseful pause)

Alison or Mike: What, Lissa, what?

Melissa Wiley (smiles disarmingly): Do you really want to know?

Studio audience: TELL US, TELL US!!

Melissa Wiley (laughs disingenuously): All right, I’ll tell.

I asked myself: Self, suppose I were to run another wash cycle and PUT THESE CLOTHES INSIDE THE MACHINE. Would it work? Could it be that they would come out cleaner? Is it possible that, as with children, osmosis is not always the most effective method?

And so: I tried it.

Alison or Mike: (gasps)

No, it’s true. And it worked. Those very same clothes came out MANY TIMES CLEANER.

Studio audience: Oooohhhhh!

Alison or Mike: That’s incredible!

Melissa Wiley (modestly): Why yes, yes it is.

Cut to announcer offering Melissa Wiley’s best-selling book, YOU TOO CAN BE A NOT-SUPERMOM!, for the low low price of $29.95.* And if you ACT NOW! this adorable mateless pink sock will be included, absolutely free.

*Plus shipping and handling, some restrictions apply.

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15 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Amy says:

    ROFL! What a fascinating idea! 🙂

  2. Karen E. says:

    What a perfect companion to my memoir, “Shut the Lid: A Cautionary Tale.”

  3. Maria says:

    you should post this to Shannon’s Works for Me Wednesday @

  4. Jenn Miller says:

    Priceless, Lissa!

    I could use that pink sock…

  5. Theresa says:

    Hilarious!!!Now if I only there were a better way to dry them than letting the sparkling clean clothes sit in the washer for three days until they come out in a slightly questionable-smelling conglomerate!

  6. Liza Lee Miller says:

    Oh my yes. What a genius idea. For your Informercial Part II, could you please tackle the complex and overwhelming task of how to get the clothes from the dryer to the closet and drawers. That seems to be the big hang up at my house. We have piles of CLEAN unfolded clothing that seems to hang out in every room. Most distressing.

  7. Jen Robinson says:

    I ran the empty wash cycle recently myself. And I have to agree with you – it doesn’t do much for cleaning the clothes. Thanks for an entertaining post!

  8. Genevieve says:

    This must be your funniest post yet!

  9. KC Powers says:


  10. Erica says:

    Very funny! And, all too common around here! Between this and the “Duck” post at the Lilting House, you’ve got me ROTFLOL!!

  11. Donna says:

    Too funny!

  12. Tracy says:

    I read this yesterday, then read it to my husband, then came back to read it again today. It’s the funniest story I’ve read in a very long time! Perhaps because it is just so true, and maybe, just maybe, it’s happened to me. Not that I’m saying that is so, of course. Just that maybe…

  13. Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    Another “secret” I discovered about laundry is that when your visiting mother (who laundered clothes for 7 kids for 25 years, and still had time to iron the pillowcases) goes home, the laundry just sits there in piles, and doesn’t appear sparkling clean and folded so well you’d swear it was ironed!

  14. stef says:

    LOLOL!!! Thanks for the laughs, Lissa! You don’t know how many times I lamented, “oh no, I washed the machine again!” — too many. One thing that tremendously helped this year was our old top-loader breaking down and getting a front-loader, which I *have to* load with clothes before pushing the start button.

  15. Much More Than A Mom says:

    Came over from the Carnival. Love your post! That’s a great idea – I’ll have to try it some time. 😉