University of Wisconsin–Madison

We’ve All Got Dirty Laundry

Unfortunately, fabreezing will only get you so far in life. One can go weeks re-wearing tops and jeans, but the second you run out of clean underwear, it’s time to face the inevitable – it’s time to conquer your fears and do your first load of Italian laundry.

machine

At first, the little machine hiding under the sink looks innocent enough – it’s got that quaint, simple white structure like my familiar front-loader back home. But the second I crouched down and took a closer look, all reminiscent emotions flew out the window.

dial

I’m used to the simplified machines that grace every college dorm and apartment complex, decked out with the limited settings of “Whites, Colors, Wool, or Dedicates”. No messing with temperatures, no messing with time. These settings? These would be far outside my comfort zone, even if they were written in English.

After tossing in a few colored shirts and opening up two Google tabs (Translate and a backup search “How to work an Italian washing machine”), I was ready to tackle the unfamiliar.

So I have a load of colors that need to be washed in cold water? Twist the dial to Colorati 30 (degrees Celsius). And my next load is colored shirts that need warm water… so that would be Colorati 40.

So far, so good.

And those delicates I have? Delicati  – and look at that, I don’t even have to worry about choosing a temperature!

I was feeling pretty confident – I had conquered my fears for the day and it wasn’t even noon.

I poured in some detergent (randomly guessing at which of the 3 slots it was supposed to go in), pressed avvio (that has to mean start, right?) and rewarded myself with some Netflix (which miraculously works abroad when all others failed me – I’m looking at you, Hulu and Pandora).

Hours later, after a stare down with the washing machine to determine that it was done spinning, I loaded the sopping wet laundry into my arms, slamming the door and looking for the – oh, right. No dryer – they are a luxury that only dry cleaners can afford in Italy. Instead, my roommates and I set up a fail-proof system that involved transforming our living room into a larger than life drying rack.

drying

                 No couch, end table, bookshelf, or lampshade is off limits once the rack space runs out, and once the heat is cranked on high, it only takes about half a day for most clothes to dry out. Though, word of caution to all those reading – do try to cycle your laundry. The last thing you really want is to wake up in the morning and realize that all your pants are still sopping wet. Trust me – no hair dryer has enough power to dry your jeans in time for your 9am class.

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