Airing My Dirty Laundry by Vicky Tarulis
We’ve all been taught not to air our dirty laundry in public, but I’m feeling the need to air my dirty washing machine as a public service announcement. Never having used any buttons beyond Popcorn or One Minute Express on the microwave and remaining indifferent to Cook Time and Convection on the built-in oven, it goes without saying that I rarely use the dispensers for bleach or fabric softener in my washing machine.
Today, while I was adding powdered detergent – does anyone even remember detergent not in a liquid form? – that I purchased for 50% off a while back, I accidentally sprinkled some of the tiny granules into the fabric softener dispenser on the top of the center agitator. Yes, I still have an old-fashioned, top loading, water-wasting Maytag that my serviceman insists I never give up because “they just don’t make them like they used to.”
Not wanting detergent to go into my rinse cycle, I tried to wipe it out only to realize that the dispenser comes out easily and I could rinse it in the sink. I popped it out and was totally shocked to see the vile, moldy, greenish-black, slimy growth that had accumulated all over the underside and interior of the dispenser. Let’s just say the CDC and EPA would likely test it for dreaded diseases or declare it a toxic waste site.
I was tempted to photograph it and share it on Facebook as a warning but I suspect that some people eat while surfing. So, instead, risking violent nausea, I attacked the sludge with rubber-gloved hands, bleach, and a toothbrush that will never again see the likes of even the toilet under-rim. The mold and germs are now gone and, restored to its former white color, the dispenser gleams. I promise never again to ignore this receptacle, and regular inspections are already scheduled in my iPad calendar.
It is difficult for a person like me to air this dirty story. I have always taken pride in being a “neat freak;” so much so, that I once was compelled to tell a police officer I was so orderly that even my undies were stacked in color-coordinated sets (a tale for another day.) But if my washing machine, in my so-called spic and span clean house, was in this condition – left like that by the previous owner, I like to think – I suspect maybe others are not aware of the potential health hazard that may be looming in their machines.
Now that I’ve been to the dark side, I’m making a new resolution. I resolve that, although the laundry may be dirty, from now on the machine will always stay clean.