A post about my washing machine

3 Mar

Awhile back I complained about the washer-dryer combo unit in our temporary housing. Then when we finally moved into our flat I was met without something different — a lone washing machine integrated in the kitchen. I made the mistake of assuming it was a combo unit because it seemed that was what all apartments had. And then I tried to use it. It seems all appliances in the UK were created like IKEA instructions — just symbols and numbers, no English. This wouldn’t be a problem if I understood what the symbols meant, but both our washer and oven did not come with instruction manuals, meaning I’ve been employing the trial and error method. I’ve figured out the washer for the most part, but was a little more weary about trial and error with the oven, so after too many cold curly fries, I googled a manual. I’m getting sidetracked though, this post is about my washer, not my oven.

The first time I tried to use the machine I kept looking for the dryer symbol. There wasn’t one. We were blessed with a washing machine, but no dryer. We were not happy about this, so in true American fashion we made a big stink. We complained to the landlord, the building manager, the porter, the estate agent — everyone. I remember the estate agent giving me a polite lecture about how it is rather common for British households not to have dryers, unlike in the US. I could tell he was doing everything he could to bite his tongue and not call me a spoiled American. I admit in this instance I did act rather spoiled. I tried washing clothes and hanging them to dry, but when I could hit Stephen with his dried sock and actually inflict some pain, we realized it was time to get a dryer (and fabric softener).

So the landlord caved and bought us a condenser dryer. I have no idea how it works, but it does. It requires no ventilation, I just have to empty a big container of water after every load. It’s easy because the dryer is in the bathroom, right next to the sink. Yes — the washing machine is in the kitchen and the dryer is in the bathroom. It was the only place we could fit it.

It’s nice having a washer and dryer in-unit. In Chicago I hated lugging my clothes to the bottom floor and paying $1.75 in quarters per load so much that I would pack my laundry in my jumbo suitcase and take it 300 miles on the Megabus to Cincinnati and do it at my parent’s house. In the last year I think I only paid to do laundry in my building a handful of times.

Of course having our own washer and dryer is not without complaints. For one, it takes forever. One load on the warm cycle takes over 2 1/2 hours to complete — 2 1/2 hours! That’s not including drying, which takes an hour and a half. But a load on the cooler cycle takes only an hour and a half. Why the extra hour for hotter water? I’m also using the term “cooler” relatively. Instead of having the “hot,” “warm” and “cold” temperature settings I’m used to, our washer has temperatures — 90, 60, 40 and 30 degrees Celsius. Using my handy conversion app, that translates to 194, 140, 104 and 86 F. That is really hot!  I feel like 90, 60, 40 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit seems more appropriate, but there is a clear degrees C on the machine. Doesn’t 86 degrees F seem a little warm for a washer’s coldest setting? It could explain why the white towel I threw in with the darks isn’t so bright anymore.

And since I’m blabbering about water temperature, let me throw in one last thing. The water in our flat is ridiculously hot. In the US it seems more common not to get a shower hot enough, but here the shower water is often too hot and the temperature knob is, of course, not clearly marked. I’ve seen smoke coming out of the kitchen tap when I turn on only the hot water. One of these days I’m going to burn myself and have to explain to people that it happened while washing my hands.


3 Responses to “A post about my washing machine”

  1. Moe March 7, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    It’s sad, isn’t it? In the US, doing laundry was one of my favorite chores (under the heading of ‘it gets done even though you don’t have to be there for the entire process’). Now that I moved to the UK, I dread doing laundry. We have no dryer, the washing machine doesn’t hold as much and it takes forever. I used to scold my husband for wearing the same shirt 3 days in a row, now I follow suit (though 2 days is my limit) just so I don’t have to do laundry as often.

  2. Kristel September 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    So, just moved to the UK from Chicago (staying in temporary housing with one of those lovely washer dryer combo units…) Any advice on what all the symbols mean?

    – Kristel, aka desperate for clean clothes in Bayswater

    • reneedezvous September 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      Welcome to London! I wish I could be of more help. I’ve been using my washer for two years now and I still don’t know what the symbols mean. I use the cloud symbol, 30 C and it seems to work fine. Don’t forget the fabric softener since the water here is really hard. Good luck!

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