Friday, April 3, 2020

Wishy washing

My laundry bag is getting full. The last time I went to a laundromat the coronavirus thing was just becoming a story. I cleaned my clothes in semi-ignorance and didn’t become infected. But what about now?

I’m not worried my laundry will be contaminated by someone else’s. Soap disintegrates the virus by dissolving the layer of fat that holds their cells together—hence all the washing of hands. They use soap on their clothes, I use soap on mine, soap soap soap.

The problem is everything else in the laundromat. The people, the surfaces, the baskets, the outside of the machines… And laundromats can get crowded. It might not be possible to maintain six feet of separation. It’s enough to make me envy (only a little) those quarantined in their homes with their own washer and dryer.

Unlike some nomads I am not a wash-it-in-a-bucket kind of guy. I don’t have a wash bucket or a lot of extra water or a clothesline. Or patience. So my choices are to find a rather deserted laundromat or to wait until I get to Lou’s place.

Meanwhile, I came across an article in the New York Times. It would be nice if it cited sources for this advice.
Is it safe for me to go to a laundromat? 
Yes. If you are healthy and have run out of clean clothing, it is OK to leave the house and do laundry. The same general rules apply: Wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and don’t touch your face. You can bring disinfectant for the surfaces you will touch, though this isn’t necessary as long you wash your hands after your laundry is done. 
Avoid going to the laundromat when it is full. It might be worth calling ahead to check how busy the place is, or asking when their quieter hours are. Some laundromats may already have crowd-control policies in place. 
Once you are inside, stay at least six feet away from others. Tasks like sorting dirty laundry or folding dry clothing should be done at home. Touching several surfaces is inevitable while doing laundry, so avoid touching your face until you’ve used hand sanitizer or washed your hands. Avoid lingering inside and wait outside or in your car in between loads, if you can. 
Practically speaking, doing one large load every couple of weeks in order to minimize your contact outside is ideal.


  1. One of the things I liked about van dwelling was being able to go "home" while each load of laundry was doing its thing. Putting the clothes directly from the dryer into my laundry bags then taking them into the van to fold and put them away meant less time inside the laundromat. Now I see that as also less time my clothes spent in contact with surfaces in the laundromat. Now that I use Shout Color Catchers I don't even need to sort by color; just throw it all in one large machine and be done.

  2. What about a 5 gallon bucket 1/2 filled
    With soapy maybe a little bleach and water ;throw dirty clothes in and agitating with a clean toilet plunger and transfer to rinse buckets and hang them up

    1. I guess you didn't read this part:

      "Unlike some nomads I am not a wash-it-in-a-bucket kind of guy. I don’t have a wash bucket or a lot of extra water or a clothesline. Or patience."

      It takes a lot of water, unless one is willing to wash each load in increasingly dirty water and rinse in increasingly soapy water.

      And jeans take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to dry on a line, even in the arid Southwest.

    2. No I didn't - I give 24 hours for hard to dry items towels etc ; Even with a dryer at home drives my wife crazy. As for duration I wear some stuff weekly heck I shower every other day. How's about setting up camp by a clear cool stream?

  3. Mask and gloves it Al. I'd change my clothes I do the wash in. But I dont know shit, Clothes seem fresher washed in New Mexico. Or find a wash and fold lady at the mat.