Monday, January 7, 2013

The Non-Washer

Seven years ago, we splurged on a front loader washing machine. Now, two machines and countless service calls later, we are ditching the failings of the new-fangled for the tried-and-true of the traditional top loader.

Why? Well, let's begin with the basics.

Call us old-fashioned, but when we wash our clothes in a washing machine we expect them to exit the machine in a state of cleanliness. What we do not desire, yet have come to expect, is a proclivity for our fancy front loader to spread greasy, muck-like streaks on our clothes and linens.

I've never before owned or used a washing machine that made clothes dirtier than when they were tossed in. The worst part is we've grown accustomed to it. When items emerge from the front loader streak-free, it's like we've been given the gift of not having to treat and handwash everything all over again. In short, our front loader has us brainwashed, which is about the only effective kind of washing it has accomplished in seven years.

In addition to the random appearance of new stains, there also is the smell. Did you know the front loader washing machine has such a recognized reputation for pungency that there is a range products designed specifically for the purpose of removing the rotten egg odor from the machines? Nine times out of ten when the machine is running, I'm reminded of the time my parents took us to experience the sulfur pits at Yellowstone Park. And, while the front loader might regularly smell worse than the ass end of a pig farm, at least our laundry room is very close to our dining room, so we can all enjoy the foul aroma should we choose to run a load of laundry while we're eating.

Which brings up the point of proximity to noise. Our laundry room being where it is, we realized when we built the house we might experience a slight inconvenience when it came to noise. Perhaps the background hum of the spin cycle, or the gentle spritzing of water during the rinse cycle, might be discernible at times, but we were okay with the tradeoff if it meant having our laundry room on the main floor. Besides, we had purchased the ultra-quiet, super-silent, whisper mode 3000 model. How annoying could it be?

For the first few seconds of operation, the front loader makes little sound. Once it starts pumping water, the circus begins with a rythmic ear-piercing squeal that rises in pitch and volume to such a degree you have to wonder how many dogs within half a mile of your house are praying for it to stop. Then the drum spins like a rock tumbler -- the German got one for Christmas, so we're qualified to make the comparison -- stopping at intervals to let in more screaming howls of water. The show ends twenty minutes later with the front loader kicking into a spin cycle that rattles the china cabinet and shakes dust from the rafters more effectively than a freight train running through the middle of your house.

And if all that isn't enough, the front loader leaks. I can look beyond the smell, the noise, and the fact it requires more frequent and more expensive maintenance than my car, but it seems pretty fundamental and important that a washing machine be able to hold its water. So, this past Saturday when the front loader chose to piddle all over the laundry room floor, we decided we'd had enough. Our new top loader will arrive Friday.

My apologies to all the repairmen who will be out of work as a result of our decision.

© 2012 Mark Feggeler

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