Whatever feminists think, my six loads of laundry a week are therapy

‘I’ll come clean, I just love doing laundry’: Whatever feminists think, my six loads a week are like therapy

  • Natasha Poliszczuk finds solace in the methodical, repetitive rhythm of shaking, folding, smoothing
  • READ MORE:  I’m a cleaning expert and this is how often YOU should be washing your everyday items – from jeans to bras

Call me old-fashioned. Call me anti-feminist. Call me Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. I have a not-so-dirty secret — and it’s that I love doing laundry.

A full laundry basket thrills me. A line of washing blowing in the breeze makes my heart beat apace. 

And there is something uniquely pleasing about the sight of a pile of neatly folded, clean washing.

We bought a new washing machine recently. It has a nifty little hatch through which you can post those socks which insist on escaping en route to the machine, and it sings a jaunty tune at the end of the cycle.

I feign indifference, but the truth is that my new machine delights me.

A love of laundry: Natasha hanging out in her favourite place. She finds doing the laundry almost meditative

I know, it’s 2023 and this is not the sort of thing that women like me are meant to admit. 

We’re meant to get satisfaction from our careers, not from the drudgery of domestic chores, like some 1950s housewife.

Laundry, like cleaning the bath and making sure the children have everything they need for the school day, is the sort of thing we women either outsource, force our other halves to share, or squeeze in between high-level board meetings and important calls. It’s not something to revel in.

But I’m no Stepford wife or domestic goddess — there’s probably no more than an inch of (Mrs) Hinch about me. 

I happily outsource the cleaning and actively swerve the washing up whenever possible. Fortunately, I am married to a champion washer-upper.

As a journalist, I’m a working mother and always have been. 

My husband (a lawyer) and I think it’s important that our daughter, aged 12, and our son, nine, see both of us pulling our weight on the domestic front.

That’s feminism in action — and it matters. Moreover, loving laundry need not be a solely female preoccupation: men can enjoy it, too. In this as in so much else, I’m all for equality.

Natasha, who does washing six times a week, finds the idea of having just the one laundry day each week laughable

Yet when it comes to the washing, the man doesn’t get much of a look-in. And that’s just the way I like it. Because laundry is my therapy.

Wellness feels like a slippery, almost nebulous concept. The very idea of navel gazing makes me itch. 

I suspect those anti-stress patches that Meghan Markle is sporting would have the same effect — quite literally. But give me a pile of laundry to fold …

Before you roll your eyes and scoff, hear me out.

Restoring order from chaos is one of life’s great endeavours. Even on the worst days (arguably, especially on the worst days) when everything has gone awry, everyone is in a terrible mood and your to-do list is unconquerable, the act of doing the laundry establishes one small pocket of control.

The methodical, repetitive rhythm of shaking, folding, smoothing is a tonic. 

It’s almost meditative, allowing your mind to wander. It’s an escape from the demands of the everyday.

When juggling work and children — one of whom has a sworn dedication to sports and rendering his knees and clothes as muddy as possible — the idea of having just the one laundry day each week is laughable. I’m an at-least-six-loads-a-week woman.

She finds solace in the methodical, repetitive rhythm of shaking, folding, smoothing, and has happily volunteered to help with other people’s washing

We can control so little in life, but the washing will always be there. And who doesn’t find joy in clean, fresh-air-smelling sheets?

I’d also argue any therapy which serves the dual purpose of ticking off an item on the endless list of domestic admin is a win. At times of stress, I need my clean hit.

I have even been known to interfere with other people’s washing. Collecting my son from a playdate, my eyes kept sliding to the window: it was clear that rain was imminent.

My friend allowed me to usher us both outside to rescue the smalls, just as the first plump raindrops fell. 

I had the distinct impression that my sense of relief was the more profound.

I was invited to a friend’s house for early evening drinks. She bustled us in, apologising for the state of the house. 

My eyes lit upon a clotheshorse groaning under the weight of dry washing. I politely offered (practically begged) to fold it. 

Another friend jumped up to assist — and I saw in her the light of a fellow laundry lover. 

Natasha’s new washing machine is equipped with a hatch through which you can post those socks which insist on escaping en route to the machine

Our delight was unconfined when we chanced upon her ‘clean odd sock box’ and united some long-lost friends.

You see, I am not alone. I text my mother and one of my oldest and dearest friends on ‘good drying days’. (The heatwave has been a gift.) I might even set up a WhatsApp group with this title.

When I timidly mentioned my love of laundry on Instagram, far from being lambasted for being a bad feminist, as I worried I might be, I had hundreds of messages from fellow addicts. People love the results, coupled with the ritual.

Since then, my followers and fellow laundry lovers have debated the merits of various washing powders; the joy of the perfect clothes peg (we all agree they are from Nona, made of recycled ocean plastic no less, at made bynona.com); tutted over the exasperation of an unexpected rain shower; the dizzy heights of whitest whites. 

And we have enjoyed wallowing in nostalgia, recalling grandmothers who had a ‘laundry day’. How did they manage to wait all week?

Cleaning and laundry influencer Laura Mountford loves laundry so much she wrote a book about it: Live, Laugh, Laundry: A Calming Guide To Keeping Your Clothes Clean — And You Happy (£16.99, Ebury). 

As @lauracleanaholic she has more than 620,000 followers on Instagram.

When we speak, Laura refers to ‘people like you and I’, which thrills me. It’s as though I’m in a washing-woman inner circle.

Natasha’s husband, Chris, may not understand her laundry love affair but he knows to act swiftly if there’s an unexpected shower when there are clean clothes on the line 

To Laura, laundry is ‘cheaper than therapy’; and if you don’t understand it’s a pleasure, not a chore, then you’re looking at it the wrong way.

She says it’s all about mindset: ‘You can view it as work, or you flip it, and think of it as a time when you switch off from the other demands of life and enjoy it as an act of self-care.’

It is Laura’s first port of call when she feels overwhelmed by chores. ‘When you don’t know where to start, the answer is your laundry basket. Get that first wash on and you take back control of the day. The rest will find its way.’

Sophie Liard, another social media sensation (@thefoldinglady; her clothes folding tips draw 637,000 followers on Instagram and 4.4 million on TikTok) equates organised and perfectly folded laundry with a calmer, more productive life.

It can even curb your spending habits. ‘If you get into a routine with your laundry, fold your clothes properly — put those you wear the most in the most accessible places, then you realise what you have and you buy less,’ Sophie says. See? Laundry can be life-changing.

There will always be detractors. People who think of the washing as boring, a necessary evil, or domestic drudgery.

My husband will never truly understand my laundry love affair, but if I am out and there’s an unexpected shower when there are clean clothes on the line, he knows it will strike fear into my heart, and will act swiftly. 

Is there any finer text from your husband than: ‘The washing is in’?

Social media sensation Sophie Liard (@thefoldinglady) is convinced that taking time over the laundry can also curb your spending habits because you become more aware of how much you have

He’s onto something with his ‘It matters to you, so it matters to me’ approach.

The world would be a better place if we all could look past the idea of chores as menial grind and view them as an act of love. 

Stop thinking of them as mundane or, worse, a burden, and reframe them as kindness: doing something nice for those you love. Or yourself.

When I look at that pile of neatly folded school uniform, sheets, towels and paired socks, I don’t see domestic drudgery, I see my family. 

I see that I have done this to care for them, and to show that they are loved. It has meaning.

Good thing, too, because I loathe ironing!

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