anon: (archaic or literary)
- in a short time; soon

50:50 vision

80:20 insight

We have a problem with our washing machine


This is a version of the royal ‘we’, as I have the problem with the washing machine, and my wife doesn’t. We don’t actually know if she would have the same problem with the washing machine, as she never uses it. Due to the division of labour in our household, worked out to mutual agreement over a number of years, I do the washing, and my wife does the ironing.

This has come about because the concept of properly loading the rotary drying line is completely alien to my wife. She fails to see the logic of placing the smallest items on the inside and the longest on the outside. She doesn’t understand the importance of balancing the load on all four sides so that the line will rotate in the wind. On top of that, she insists on mixing the colours of pegs on every item pegged up with more than one.

I don’t do the ironing, though I am quite capable, and have done it in previous lives. My wife says she can’t bear to watch my meticulous smoothing and precise folding of garments. It makes her want to scream and push me out of the way so she can finish it in half the time.

So, I do the washing, and I have a problem with our washing machine. It’s important I established it is ‘our’ machine so that when it needs replacing, it doesn’t come out of ‘my’ pocket money.

To be fair, the problem, like the washing machine, isn’t new. But this is straws and camels’ backs stuff, and I need to share this with the world to preserve my sanity.

So, the problem: ‘our’ washing machine insists on turning all our knickers inside out.

You might not think this much of a problem (my wife doesn’t) – surely it’s easy enough to turn them back in the right way? It is true that, individually, this doesn’t take much time and effort. But considering the numbers of knickers this washing machine has cleaned over the ten years we’ve had it, you’ll appreciate the huge chunk of my time it has occupied.

I can tell you’re going to ask another question: how can I be sure this is happening? At first I did wonder if it was just my imagination, so I started to check all the knickers before they went in, to make sure they didn’t start inside out. They don’t: they go into the washing machine the right way in, and come out inside out.

Aha, I thought – suppose we start with them all inside out. But our washing machine is smart. It knows when I’m trying to trick it – put the knickers in to wash inside out … they come out inside out.

I’ve checked the manual that came with the washing machine – there’s nothing in the list of features and functions about this behaviour. I checked the problem-solving section – maybe there’s some setting I’ve missed – but there’s no mention of it.

I peered at the drum for a while, wondering if I could discern some peculiarity of the paddle shape which might be responsible for this behaviour. Then I had a brain wave – let’s Google it!

I typed in washing machine turns clothes inside-out and got a staggering 4.9 million results. Actually, most are just partial matches on washing machines and the benefits of washing clothes inside out. But of the first ten results, four were about this peculiar phenomenon. It appears to be a common problem, not limited to a single make or country.

There’s a thread on Yahoo Answers with all sorts of bizarre explanations:

  • The agitator in the washer is designed to do that so both sides of the garment get washed and not to simply one side get washed and the other side get wet
  • Pressures created by the agitator hit the garment just right to turn it inside out
  • Kinda’ the same reason that when Marilyn Monroe walked over the infamous sewer grate, her dress flipped up (aside from it being in the script). Pressure underneath caught the flexible fabric, and flipped it inside out. And all the men gawked.

Perhaps the only one that makes any sense is:

  • Clothes are sewn together with the seams inside, but this is done by sewing them inside out and then turning them right side out to wear. In a way, their natural state is what we call inside out. As a result the clothes are always pulling a little bit when the seams are inside and random agitation will tend to bring the seams back outside where the cloth can rest smoothly with no pulling at all.

But this doesn’t explain why this only happens to our underwear.

Now I’ve written about this and discovered I’m not alone I don’t feel so bad. And I’ve decided not to phone the manufacturers or call out our local Mr Fix-it.

But when we have to buy a new washing machine, I’ll insist they deliver one which just washes the clothes, and doesn’t take it on itself to do anything extra.