Friday, August 3, 2012

In Search of Downy Goodness

If ever an intervention was needed, it would be led by a group of concerned friends and family as they tackled my large appliance issues.  I am currently on my third washing machine in a year as I cannot find one that actually cleans clothes and leaves them smelling Downy fresh.   

My first choice for cleaning laundry was a matching set of front loading appliances that were energy efficient and saved on water.  It only took a few wash cycles to realize that a tablespoon of water, spritzed on dirty laundry and spun at high rates of speed, would not clean one's clothes. I sat in front of the tiny oval window of the washer and watched as my clothes were spun around for almost an hour and wondered when the water would actually fill the unit and begin washing away dirt and grime.  After 57 minutes of gaping through the window, waiting to see bubbly suds, I had a better understanding of energy efficiency and water savings.  It wasn't long before the Lowe's truck arrived to haul away my high tech washer and replace it with a Whirlpool Cabrio, top loading unit, that appeared to be built to fill with sudsy water. I suspected I had violated some unspoken appliance code by breaking a set as the delivery man looked at me in disapproval. 

  Satisfied with my new purchase, I loaded the new unit with shirts and shorts and all kinds of dirty laundry and waited for my clean clothes.  A locking mechanism in the lid prevented me from looking in to see if the unit was full of water.  It was the first red flag that I had no control over this washer.  If I stopped the unit in mid wash, it would drain the water before it would unlock and allow me to peer inside as if it was hiding some great energy efficiency secret.   No matter how I tried, I was never able peel back the layers of locks and drain cycles to see if my clothes were swimming in glorious suds.   After 57 minutes of trying to outsmart my washer, the lock finally opened and my clothes were ready.  As I pulled them out, I noticed that they felt almost dry and were so wrinkled that no fabric softener or dryer sheet could ever get them smooth again.  

  A little internet search led me to groups of angry people who detest the Cabrio washer and it's wrinkled clothes.  I was not alone in my despair. Over the course of several months, I attempted to jimmy the lock and gain a better understanding of the ridiculously high rate of speed in which my washer spins my laundry. It became a madness of mine to resolve an issue that Whirlpool would not acknowledge and to figure out how to wash clothes in a tub of soapy water and have them finish in a semi-dry state without wrinkles.  It's not a big thing to ask for, but it's been completely out of my reach for almost a year. I studied this washer and learned about the Coriolis effect and the centripetal acceleration that spins my clothes into a giant wad of wrinkles. Without a physics teacher living in my laundry room to solve this problem, and no help from Whirlpool, I accepted defeat and ordered yet another washer.  

  I went to the store, with a crazed look in my eye, and my clothes not quite Downy fresh, and asked for the most energy inefficient, non-locking, environmentally unfriendly tub of a washer that they had.   My requirements were simple:  Fill with water, don't lock me out, and clean my clothes.  My very basic, super size washer arrived this week.  The same delivery man was sent to my home and unfortunately, he remembered me.  As he hauled away the perfectly fine $800 washer and replaced it with a simpler, kinder washer, he gave me that same look of disapproval.   As he stood in my all too familiar laundry room of mis-matched appliances, he looked me in the eye and asked, "Why?" All I could say is that I have washing machine issues.  As he drove off, he said he would see me again in a few weeks.  Sadly, I knew he was probably right. 

  I was instantly thrilled with my new unit that washed an entire load of clothes in 22 minutes and left them smooth and looking good.  It's been almost a week of laundry satisfaction and then, just this morning, I pulled my son's clean shirt out of the washer and noticed the faint smell of his cologne still lingering on the shirt.  Instant panic sat in as I suspected that this unit, while full of water, doesn't actually agitate properly, leaving the washing process completely ineffective. I'm back at square one and afraid to tell anyone of my new realization, as they may think I'm crazy.  I'll sit in front of this washer today and watch to see if an acceptable level of shaking and stirring is occurring.   I do hope it was my imagination and that nothing is wrong with my washer, because my next and only choice is a river rock and rapidly flowing water.   It is with high hopes that I will wait to see if my agitator agitates, my washer washes and my dryer dries. 

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