Friday, February 8, 2013

Adventures in Irish & Dutch Laundry

Laundry.  It's a love hate relationship.  

We love the scent and crispness of a freshly cleaned load .

We hate separating lights & darks, and figuring out the difference between delicates & permanent press

We love it when it's warm right out the dryer or straight off the sun kissed clothesline. 

We hate folding, no we really hate folding.

We also hate it when it does this....

Adventures in Irish Laundry: Take #1

My first adventures in laundry began in college, where I learned that wool sweaters are powerless against dryers.  Once I was married, I assumed the role of launderer, not sure how exactly, just happened.  Naturally I carried my laundry responsibilities with me as my wife and I set out on our expat adventures, first in Ireland, now in the Netherlands.  

It's a simple process really.  Add clothes, add water, add soap and let the machine work it's magic.  Then take out clothes and but into the other machine to dry and boom, done.  But you see that second part about putting the clothes into another machine, well, that wasn't an option in our home in Ireland.  My wife and I assumed the property had one of those washer/dryer combo units, which apparently exist.  It wasn't until our walk through of the property that we realized the only function that this machine in OUR KITCHEN was to wash, not dry.

I loved my wife's question to the relocation agent.  "Well, how do we dry clothes in a place where it rains all the time?"  She then explained the "hot press" concept to us.  There was a closet or press, upstairs where the hot water pipes ran.  This was your hot press, and this is how you dried clothes.  Worked like a charm if you didn't need your jeans for about a week.    So I had to resort to stringing our clothes up on the line outside.  But you know that Irish weather.

Eventually I got the hang of things in Ireland.  Who knew that door jams and light fixtures made for great locations to hang drying clothes.  But the one thing I just could never get right was the washer.  Well, as a cousin of mine said, in response to this pic.  "Just grab a mop. 2 problems solved!"

"Just grab a mop. 2 problems solved!"

Flash forward to present day life in the Netherlands. The first question I asked before moving: " Does the apartment have a dryer?"  Well, it certainly does, BUT, I'm now faced with a whole new set of challenges, Dutch instructions.  Not only on the bottles of detergent but also on the machines (so I thought).  

So can you picture this? Me is a confined laundry room where the door closes behind you staring blankly at a washer & dryer.  I then grab a bottle of detergent and take out my iPhone. With the help of Google Translate I discover the purple label is for colors and the green is for active wear?
I don't know, I've just been using the purple bottle and crossing my fingers.  White technically is a color right?

Then I come to the challenge of actually using these machines.

Uh.........Goggle, little help?  So I try to translate "VAR PUUVILLA" from Dutch to English and I get, "VAR PUUVILLA." Son of a......  I try it again, maybe I missed spelled it.  Same thing "VAR PUUVILLA."  Then I think, this is Dutch right?  WRONG!  Turns out the machines speak Finnish.  At least that's the language Google detected.  So here's an English speaking American, living in a Dutch speaking country doing laundry with machines that speak Finnish.  What a world.  

Okay, I've figured out the Dutch detergent and the Finnish instructions but the one thing I simply CANNOT figure out is why it takes SO long to both wash and dry a load?  Yeah, that screen reads 1 HOUR and 25 minutes. 

Today, after 50 minutes in the dryer my clothes were still damp.  At this point I was ready to mail them to Ireland to dry.  But I could tell something was wrong.  I would set the timer then the dryer would shut off after a minute.  So,  I look closer at the screen then say to myself out loud "What the hell is 'BAC PLEIN'?"  GOOOOOGLE, HELP!  So I turn to my iPhone, translate "BAC PLEIN" from Finnish into English and get "BAC PLEIN" Son of a......  Alright Google, you tell me what language this is; it detected French.  So "BAC PLEIN" means "TANK FULL."  Oh, that clears things up.  WHERE THE HELL IS THE TANK!!  Luckily the owner of the apartment was around this afternoon and I inquired about the problem.  Turns out there is a tray that fills up with water and needs to be emptied.  I did not know that.  Alright, so I think I am finally prepared to do a load of laundry here in the Netherlands with my Finnish washer and my French dryer.  Am I right?  I shouldn't expect anymore surprises right?  That Irish hot press is looking really good right now.

Do you have any expat laundry stories to share?    Please tell me I'm not alone.  Thanks!


  1. You give real meaning to the Screw the Laundry

  2. Oh Dan. Thank you so much for your story. No expat stories.... just living in PA during snowstorm. I guess I should feel guilty as I have "guys" coming to do things... A guy to deal with the icy drive and walks and a guy to fix the heater that apparently stopped working during the night. At least we speak the same language. Anne Dozer

  3. Ha! Just reading this today since I wrote a love letter to our laundry. Glad we're on the same page with the detergent and what the hell is up with the duration?!? I washed the boys' blankies and no kidding it took over 2 hours. I know because my kids were flipping out. And it stayed locked so I couldn't get in!!!! Ours is a dual though at least- digital in Finnish would be tough!

    1. I loved the Love Letter idea. Classic! Our washer in Ireland was the lock kind. I learned that the hard way. There were a few times I would start it and forget the detergent. Then an hour later I'd have to rewash again and put in the soap.

      I had a very successful laundry day here today BTW. I'm starting to learn Finnish.

  4. I have the same washer here in the Netherlands that you had in Ireland, although fortunately it hasn't turned into a soapy, leaking mess. But it's all in Dutch and I still have no idea what I'm really doing. Stuff seems clean enough, I guess.

    1. Hey oranjeflamingo! Thanks for reading about my adventures in laundry. I think I finally figured out how to operate my "friends" here and YES, the clothes do come out clean. I've also figured out a way to cut some time off the entire laundry process.

      I found your blog when we first arrived. Great stuff. I reallly like your "Wordless Wednesday" post idea, great concept!

      Best of luck and thanks again for reading, don't be a stranger! Cheers.

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