Monday, September 26, 2011

The Worst Laundry Day EVER!

(Photo by missycaulk)
 We've all seen the commercial. An 8-year-old kid, decked out in full body armor, playing full-contact football. He gets the ball and runs it to the end zone for a touchdown... just before a gaggle of other 8-year-olds in the other team's uniform tackle him... in a mud puddle. Next scene: Mom, in her perfectly clean laundry room, sun shining in through the window (where you can see little Johnny passing the football with dad outside). She picks up the uniform, covered in mud and grass stains. She's smiling and shaking her head (Boys will be boys!) She reaches (without looking, I might add) for the one product she knows will clean this mess up with very little work on her part. She merely pours on Super Stain-Lifting Name Brand Gel-Like Magic Stuff on the stains and they disappear in front of our very eyes. (If you're perceptive, you'll see the minuscule writing that mentions how you need to wait 30 minutes and scrub like hell to get these results.) Mom puts the uniform into the washing machine and adds her Super Stain-Lifting Name Brand Detergent, then goes and takes the guys some snacks.

Sometimes I have to ask myself why I don't use those magical products. This past Saturday's cross country meet was at our state park. Because it is "cross country", they didn't use the nicely paved trails for their runs. Nope - someone at the park got out the giant tractor mower and cut paths among the tall grasses for a 5k course. Did they think about the rain and plan the course to go through the thickest, nastiest muddy places? And we're not talking about the average mud. This entire area is boggy wetlands. The mud is stinky and black (some is even green!) It sticks to and sinks into everything. Plus there are burrs of every kind from all of the native wildflowers in the area. There were kids running in toward the finish line carrying a shoe, some even were completely missing one or both shoes! From what I understand, runners were calling one particular stretch of the course "Glue Curve" because they just couldn't run it. My son said that he stopped counting the shoes that were stuck in the mud when he got to 20 - and there were tons more.
One of the tamer muddy areas. The kid in red & white on the left is my oldest. See those shoes? (His teammate in front of him is wearing fluorescent orange shoes!)
THIS is what they're supposed to look like!

After a day of cheering on whatever kid who was running past wearing a "Monroe" jersey, I headed over to where the other parents of out high school cross country team was sitting. The mud really didn't bother me until one mom said, "Oh, no! I'm going to be scrubbing these clothes and shoes for the rest of the night so they'll be ready for the meet on Tuesday!" Uh-oh... I don't use super laundry stuff. I have my homemade stuff - basically washing soda, borax, and a bar of grated up Ivory. Oh, and a scrub brush. I rarely use a washing machine. It costs a dollar per load and is old - the thing uses gallon upon gallon of water and I suspect the landlord has it draining into the sewer-line that goes directly to the river (eventually out to Lake Erie.) So, we've figured out a way to do a full load of laundry using about 7 gallons of water. That is, the "average" load with peed in Little Guy pants, shirts with a little drip of last night's dinner, socks, etc. Muddy cross country clothes, I've found, take a LOT more water.
Sure would have been easier with this stuff! (Photo by Man vyi)
First, rinse the big chunks of mud off of everything. Now, I'm not sure of the coach's reasoning, but he issued a sweat suit to my kid that might fit him when he's 18. The pants are (no kidding) 8 inches too long and about 6 inches too big around the waist. The jacket hangs down almost to his knees. I took the waist of the shorts in because I didn't want my kid having to hold them up as he ran 3 miles. The jersey was also sewn a little so the armpits aren't below his waist. What does this all mean in terms of laundry? My kid, not to be one to waste time, decided not to roll up his pant legs. Nope. He walked around before and after his race with the bottom 8" of those pant legs under his muddy shoes. The mud was part of the weaving of the fabric. The shoes, themselves, are mesh, and had every crevice filled with mud. His shorts and (white!) jersey had stripes of mud going up the back of them.

First time around - the hunks of mud on his back come next time around...
I don't know how many gallons of water I wasted just rinsing the bigger hunks of mud out. Then, I got out the scrub brush and made a mixture of soda and borax for the stains. Man, was I wishing for some of that spray-on gel stuff on the commercial! I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. I got most of it, but there were some spots that just refused to budge. I began wondering if these were left over from last year's wearer. I did the same with the shoes. Every time I rinsed them to see if I had managed to get all of the mud out, the water kept turning black. Back to it. after a solid hour of scrubbing just 4 articles of clothing and a pair of shoes, I gave in. I was using too much water... I sent my kid down to the store to get some quarters. My friend lent us one of her Super-Duper Stain Release Name Brand Packets of detergent and we tossed all into the washer. They came out kind of clean. At least the places that you really noticed were clean. The legs of the pants have faint dark spots and there are a few spots of mud on the jersey, but good enough for me. The shoes even came clean. Well, at least I know that all of the dirt will be heading back to the wetlands... eventually. Right?

Guess I should be thankful that his entire uniform isn't WHITE!