The Latest Bit of Domestic Technology

We have a new washer. And it’s a super-deluxe sort of less-water, less detergent-using sort of washer that as far as I can tell barely gets your clothes wet at all but still does actually manage to get them clean. When it spins up, it sounds like a jet engine powering on. A very quiet jet engine. Like, Wonder Woman’s invisible jet engine quiet (I assume it’s quiet. An invisible but very loud jet isn’t really invisible, is it). I suspect this washer may be more technologically advanced than the last three computers I bought. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m qualified to work it. I think it runs for me out of pity.

Incidentally, and related, the first time I really kind of felt like an adult was when I was 23, about to move from my very first apartment, and I made the decision that, with God as my witness, I would never live in an house or apartment without its own washer or dryer ever again. Because a washer and dryer to call your own is one of the very sweetest gifts of modern civilization. Yes, yes, petty bourgeois sentiment. Eat my socks. If you could get to them, that is, which you can’t because I don’t have to show up in the same laundromat as your sorry ass anymore. So ha, I say! Ha!

Anyway: Washer! It’s nice.


101 Comments on “The Latest Bit of Domestic Technology”

  1. Very sleek. And probably slick as well :). When I first saw the photo, I thought it was a new printer, but a new washer of that type is much more interesting. I have a few-years-old Bosch that lurches around and makes noises in our cellar …

  2. Oooo! And a transparent lid so you can watch what is going on without opening it!

    Coincidentally, we just got a similar washer about a month ago (but, sadly, with an opaque lid), and yes, it makes all sort of interesting noises. It really does sound like an advanced robot doing the laundry.

    Which is what it is! A robot servant! Doing our laundry!

  3. When my mother moved into assisted living, she complained that she didn’t know how to work the washing machine. I went over there and was confronted with a new Kenmore that had more control options than the Space Shuttle. I sheepishly had to admit that I didn’t know how to work that washing machine either…

  4. I think I may have owned a washer of the same model. Is it the kind that doesn’t have an axle in the middle? Ours had some kind of paddle or something on the bottom, no axle in the middle. If you lift the lid, is the top component made of molded plastic with a recess in the left side to pour liquid detergent into?

    The motherboard of our machine had all the electronics on it, plus a pressure sensor. And the sensor crapped out three times in something like five years. And you have to replace the whole damn board, apparently, not just the part that was broken.

    The plastic molded piece on top of the drum, the stationary piece, also had a tendency to snag clothes once it got into the spin cycle.

    And the big dial to select which mode you wanted was flaky software/hardware. It wasn’t a hardwired connected dial. It was a “one click clockwise” or “one click counterclockwise” dial that software monitored and would update the LED’s on the panel. It was always flaking out. You’d turn the dial one click and the LED’s would light up 3 positions away.

    Ugh. It reminds me of computer-controlled engines in cars back in the 1980’s. Crap. Crap. Crap.

    Hopefully they’ve gotten the kinks out of my model, but the one we had was junk.

  5. I’d expect Scalzi’s washing machine to clean with a combination of ultrasonics and supercritical carbon dioxide. Was it at least delivered by a flying Amazon drone?

  6. Our new washer and dryer has pictures on the display for all the various types of loads, so even if you don’t want to read two words you can wash by picture. Essentially, they’ve made it man friendly. No more excuses for me not to do laundry. I hate it!

  7. I can relate to your second paragraph so much! I was also 23 when I made the decision that a washing machine and dryer were necessities in my life. And upon purchasing them, I too had an epiphany of “Holy flip! I’m an adult now!” A year later I bought my first car on my own, which was another “Holy flip!” moment, but not the first, that will always be with washer/dryer.

  8. About 4 years ago, I got a stackable washer and dryer (front loading, obviously) that fit in the same floor space as my old washer did previously. It uses about half the water and does an adequate job of cleaning the clothes, as long as it is not overstuffed. So far, it’s been pretty solid, although I’m not sure my old top-loader didn’t clean the clothes better.

  9. When our two sons hit junior high we taught them how the washer and dryer worked and transferred the responsibility to them to DO THEIR OWN clothes. One day soon after one of them walked out his shower one morning to an empty clean underwear drawer. They soon learned. You have already transferred the joy of doing one’s own washing/drying to Athena, right?

  10. We learned how to work the washer/dryer as soon as we were old enough to reach the controls with a step stool (so around 6 or so). Once we realized there was an unspoken rule that any money found in the washing machine belonged to the launderer, dad never had to worry about a dirty pair of pants again. Sadly, if I want to rent a place with laundry hook-ups here I’d have to be willing to forgo rent control (even controlled, the annual increase already exceeds my annual raise – which often doesn’t even cover cost of living) and I can’t afford an extra 10% every year, even for the promise of the ability to wash my clothes any time of the day or night I want to, without worrying that another idiot has shredded their rubberized bathmat or exploded a feather pillow in the communal machines.

  11. I vacillate between the joy of domestic laundry facilities and the parallel processing available at the local laundromat.

    I had serious septic issues some years ago. Between the time of discovery and the time of writing large checks, our clothes did time in the laundromat 3 miles down the road. While in that period I achieved a singular revelation. People who use the laundromat as a primary source instinctively parallel-process. They use as many washers and dryers as necessary to get the job done in minimum time. Those of us forced to the laundromat by external events still think in the serial mode imposed by our domestic institutions, using one washer and one dryer. When our septic blew out, it took me a good 3 cycles at the opiate depot (a/k/a the laundromat) to finally understand that theorm

  12. I made that same rule when I finished grad school: I was Officially a Grown Up, and would always have a washer/dryer In My Home Goshdarnit.

    Apparently, it doesn’t take much to be a grown up.

  13. My Mom’s got one of those. The lid of hers is opaque too. About ten seconds (maybe twelve) after you start it up the lid locks down and you can’t see what’s going on inside; that can be unsettling because it whirrs and whumphs and emits weird clicks. You kind of get the idea that after the cycle is over an alien might hatch out.

  14. I vacillate between the joy of domestic laundry facilities and the parallel processing available at the local laundromat.

    I lived for a while in a building which had a couple of multi-machine laundry rooms. I could process in parallel without having to drive anywhere. It was handy. Now I do it sequentially in our house, and if I don’t set a timer, I tend to forget to change it. I still generally prefer having my own machine.

  15. Well, how about that. I’m going to wait for the model that picks the clothes off the floor and puts them into the washing machine for me.

  16. My washer sounds like the TARDIS taking off. Sorry, but I think that trumps Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. Unless it has David Tenant in it, then maybe they are equal. Maybe.

  17. My adult moment was when I realized I needed a dishwasher in addition to the washer and dryer.

  18. Twelve years after buying my first washer and dryer sometimes I still check my pockets for quarters….

  19. My adult moment was when I bought The Refrigerator That Ate Manhattan.

    Well, it certainly seemed that big; it was the first major appliance I’d ever bought new (TVs don’t count). It was also the winner of an EnergyStar competition with an estimated annual electric bill of around $50.

    It’s still going strong, 12 years later.

    It was also one of the time I actually got good advice from a sales guy: he warned us to dump the ice-maker bin regularly. The bearings are self lubricating, so if you let it sit without cycling the bearings dry out and the ice-maker will fail. It proved to be excellent advice — the thing still cranks out ice without any problems!

  20. My washer has a serial cable between it and the dryer. When you open the washer it tells the dryer what to expect. No need to put any settings in. Just chuck in the clothes and hit start.

    Although, I do have fond memories of parallel processing every bit of clothes I owned at 3 am in a laundromat.

  21. When we moved into the apartment in Austin we didn’t bring the washer & dryer because kids & stuff. We planned to tough it out until we bought a house, but after a year I bought a used set because FUCK hauling that shit up and down stairs.

    The interesting side effect of installing a washer and dryer is that putting those large metal objects between the router and the living room hosed our wireless internet. #FirstWorldProblems

  22. @Joris – Front loaders are sold as high end items here, so they cost at least twice as much even though they’re basically the same. It’s irritating.

  23. On January 10, the Washernet Funding Bill is passed and the hardware delivered. The system goes on-line January 11. Human decisions are removed from color separation and sock sorting. Washernet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, January 12th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

    Sarah Connor: Washernet fights back.

    The Terminator: Yes. It launches its mismatched socks and red colored items against the targets in Russia.

    John Connor: Why attack Russia with mismatched socks and red laundry? Aren’t they our friends now?

    The Terminator: Because Washernet knows the Russian counter-attack of their mismatched socks will eliminate its enemies over here and turn their whites a horrible shade of pink.

  24. I would never give up washer and dryer, but.

    When we went to the laundromat, we dumped all our clothes into two or three machines, dried them all at once, got to read while we waited, and all the laundry was done with a couple of hours of effort every week or so.

    Now, there is some form of laundry labor to do every day and it is never done ever. I know some of that has to do with the addition of our brood, but still…

  25. Very nice. Hopefully we’ll have a stackable washer/dryer sometime this year. The motor in our 24 year old dryer died this fall, so now I’m using our equally aged washer and hauling the clothes to the laundromat. Two good things about the laundromat: I can dry all the clothes in one load, in about 25 minutes. Also, the local library is just up the street, so I have something to while waiting for the clothes to dry.

  26. Must be the week for it. My new washer/dryer set was delivered on Tuesday. Front loaders both, and pretty to boot. My toddler is fascinated and will happily sit on her potty and watch the clothes tumble.

    The best part about the new machines are the happy tunes they play when they’re finished. I feel like muthafuckin’ Cinderella up in this joint.

  27. @nerdycellist: “Sadly, if I want to rent a place with laundry hook-ups here I’d have to be willing to forgo rent control”

    You don’t need laundry hookups if you buy an apartment-sized washer with an attachment that gets the water from your kitchen faucet and pumps the used water into your kitchen sink. Yes, they make those, and while the washer and dryer took up a bunch of room in our apartment’s kitchen, being able to do our own laundry at home was a Gift From The Gods.

  28. I really like CONVENIENT communal laundry rooms. I loved being able to do all 6-8 loads at once and be done for the week. Still, I made the same vow as you after having our twins. Our laundry room was down 4 floors and across a parking lot…and we live in FL. Risking a lightning strike because all the barf rags and t-shirts and dish towels are dirty sucks. I regularly do a little happy dance now when I open the doors to our laundry nook.

  29. Are your plugs are up to code? I was told the ground (single hole) now needs to be uppermost in the wall. Then, if something metallic falls between plug & wall, with your ground uppermost you don’t get a short. New wall plugs are very annoying; all cords when plugged in must bend over.

  30. Jezus John, a man of your stature should have at least gone with the gold plate … and is that MOLD around the base? (shakes head). Servants these days…. sheeesh.

    My adult moment was my first lawn mower. A man knows he is fully doomed when he finds he spend more time in the Home Depot than in BestBuy.

  31. The Terminator: Because Washernet knows the Russian counter-attack of their mismatched socks will eliminate its enemies over here and turn their whites a horrible shade of pink.

    That was awesome.

    (In the sequel: BLEACH!)

  32. My grandmother, who turned 90 recently and was never one for nostalgia, taught me that the Greatest Invention Of The Modern Age is the washing machine. Who am I to disagree?

    But I must say they scare me. The first time my family got one, years and years ago, we lived in a house with a looong flight of stairs up to the top floor. There was a square wooden plank covering half the stairwell at the top and that’s where the washer went. In my childish curiosity, I turned it on and the thing started rumbling like a freight train and looking for all the world like it was going to shake it way towards a 3-meter drop.

    The good thing about the awful noise is that it alerted my mom, who rushed up the stairs and unplugged the cord. I still remember my frozen panic.

    After that, the washer was moved somewhere else. I never asked if the plank was meant to be a temporary storage place or if my family really hadn’t thought it through… even loaded the shaking and weight would make it a hazard in that place.

  33. Joris:
    Took me a while to work it out too – thought it was a breadmaker photographed very close-up at first.

    But this begs a question: What do cats in the US do when their UK counterparts are sitting watching the washing going round?

  34. I thought it was a new style printer until I saw the Whirlpool logo. Now I wonder if the Scalzi cats will fight each other for space on top of the machine just to watch the washer in action.

  35. Furrysquid – Here in the US, the cats wait until the wash reaches the dryer, then they lie down on the warm, vibrating machine for a long nap… that is inevitably interrupted by the BUZZZZZZ of the timer reaching the end of the cycle!

  36. Oh good, I wasn’t the only person to think breadmaker on seeing the picture. Apparently I have a problem with scale.

    Our laundry machines are also musical front-loaders like SplittingAtoms’s. It took me quite a while to get used to the idea of having water in what’s basically a sideways cup. I have more confidence in the seals now, but I’m still glad the thing is in the garage, even if it means I occasionally create laundry accessibility issues while parking.

  37. I had hose adult moments as well…the notion of living somewhere without an internal laundry makes me queasy. I’ve inspected a few apartments in the past with a shared laundry and honestly, I wouldn’t want to go in there without a flamethrower. Shared laundries are nasty.

    Recently moved in with my partner and we’re going through a culling process. We’ve been given a lot of mismatched furniture over the years that other people were getting rid of that is in various states of disrepair. We are gradually getting rid of the old (giving it away to poor students who need that sort of thing) and replacing it with new furniture that has a more cohesive look to the place. It’s a gradual process so that not all the appliances break down at the same time.

  38. One of the worst things about poverty for me was the laundromat. What was a minor task for unpoor people was an all-day expedition for me. God bless the poor souls who have to use the laundromat, and may their lot improve.

  39. There used to be a very good brewpub across the street from my laundromat, and I could go have a pint or two while the wash was doing. Shortly after the brewpub moved away, I bought a cute little washer-dryer, with the added bonus that I don’t put my back out hauling laundry down and up 3 flights of stairs anymore. I was in my 50’s when that happened…I put off being an adult as long as I could.

  40. @K: You have to look a little bit, but front-loaders are getting to be on par with the average top-loaders in price. About two years ago, my washer and dryer (or strictly speaking, my landlord’s) were both hitting their last stride – the dryer was developing a buzz that told me a bearing was on the way out, and when doing a heavy cleaning on the laundry room I found that the washer’s transmission had crapped most of its grease onto the floor.

    With a decent sale at the local furniture and appliance store, a rebate from the local electric utility and a tax credit from the State (both for buying an EnergyStar rated washer), I got a matched set of front-loaders for about $1000 net.

    @Richard Norton: If the plug fits properly, there shouldn’t be any blade exposed whether it’s the ground or other. What’s changed in the code (as of a good few years ago) is that new homes have to be wired with an independent ground for all circuits: 220VAC circuits used to be allowed to have only a grounded neutral (which is generally safe and used less wiring, but still not as safe as independent grounding), which meant only three blades on the plug. The new standard needs a fourth for the ground.

    (There a safety reason for the ground pin being at the top of the plug, and it’s the same reason the pin’s at the bottom of the standard household 120V plug – in both cases, it’s the one your fingers are most likely to accidentally touch when you’re plugging it in.)

  41. While I was waiting for my washer’s repple transmission I was doing a bit of web based window shopping and really liked that one. And at first glance at the pic I too was all “Nice bread maker.”

    @Richard Norton who said
    Turning the cat eye pupil wink upside down wouldn’t eliminate the risk, but would reduce it.
    And fuses/breakers! Are things called those. They open the circuit on an over current condition. Yeesh. If electricity weren’t grandfathered in the safety people would never allow it.

    @puzzled “In my childish curiosity, I turned it on” had me thinking that they “really hadn’t thought it through.” That is, they had it plugged in, or it wouldn’t have turned on.

    -@The Next. If you have a car and a decent laundromat to go to is not an all day thing. Fill a machine, start it. Fill the next machine, start it. Repeat as needed.
    25 minute wash cycle with five minutes to fill and start a machine means you wash five loads in about half an hour, and when the first one is done you’ve five minutes to move that first load to one dryer = 45 to 70 minute drying time or 1.5 dryers = 25 to 50 minute dry time or 2 dryers = 15 to 35 minutes.
    Two and a half hours for five loads _includes sorting and folding but does _not include help from young ones, or time spent leaning against a table while your eight dryers are stopped and you talk to someone about how much laundromats suck. – To be fair to her, she wasn’t talking loudly on her cell, she was just hogging eight dryers, and when I emptied one of her dryers into a cart to create one empty dryer for the desperate looking girl across the room all went well.

  42. “new homes have to be wired with an independent ground for all circuits” Nod. This home, wired in 1958 by Paul [Hamiel] (dude signed the fuse box) had an independent ground for all of the 120V outlets. This ground was only attached to the metal boxes, not to the outlets. It was fun to correct that which I did in the mid 80’s.
    For USA and most, hot, neutral ground is black, white, bare and white is wide for the 120 and? black, red (also hot) ?white? and bare for the 220. Back in the 80’s when I put a 220/240 line into the garage the store did not have three wire cable for the 220/240, just four wire = hot, hot, neutral, ground

    As some might not know JS had a recent kitchen remodel which included some new outlets, so he’s fine vis the outlets.

  43. A monument to tech, domestic-duties-division. But, honestly, don’t you miss those halcyon days of sharing washers and dryers? With people who got into something terribly, frighteningly disgusting and *never* wiped the machine out when they were done? Coming back to find your load of laundry piled up on a table dripping suds because someone just wanted a rinse/spin cycle and stole yours? Worse, coming back and finding your sheets and/or underwear gone?

    Yeah, didn’t think so. Congrats on the purchase!

  44. Looks very much like the Whirlpool Cabrio set that we have. We bought the dryer two summers ago when my old one finally died, then for Black Friday ’12 we bought the matching washer–old one still worked, but I wanted a matched set and I was afraid if I waited too long I might not get an exact match to the dryer. We’ve been very happy with the set.

  45. Australian experience: we’re very suburban here. Most (pretty much all) homes have a washing machine, and the vast majority of them have a clothes line (which in our climate largely wipes out the need for a dryer). Top loaders used to be the prevailing type available, but front-loaders are starting to become more popular because they’re more water-efficient (plus you can stack a front loading washing machine and a clothes dryer one on top of the other, eliminating the need for fixtures and fittings for wall mounting).

    Laundromats are rarities – you’re more likely to find communal drying facilities in an apartment block than communal washing facilities. They do exist, but they’re fairly well scattered (your average suburb is more likely to have a post office agency than a laundromat), and more likely to be used by people who are homeless/transient or whose major appliances are not in a functional state. In a really rainy week, the dryers may be in major demand from all the people who don’t have dryers of their own, or who aren’t blessed with a bit of under-cover space to set up a clothes horse.

    Our washing machine is a front-loader which has been with us since about 2000 or so. It rattles and bumps and clatters its way through the cycle, and these days the laundry powder drawer doesn’t latch as well as it used to, but it’s still functional, and it still works.

  46. I once stayed at a place that had one machine that both washed and dried. It was EEEVILL, evil I tell you!. It held about 5 pieces of clothing and took 6 hours to finish the job.

  47. When we first moved into our little place many years ago, even though we were dirt poor, I told my husband, “I will not laundromat.” I meant it.

  48. These are truly the days of miracle and wonder. The home washing machine becomes reality. Who could have anticipated that? When you read all the old SF about giant inertialess washers running with vacuum tubes powered by diesel engines, it just seems so quaint now.

  49. You know you are a grown-up when you start to covet the matching candy apple red (metal flake!) Washer and Dryer on sale at Home Depot with the same intensity formerly reserved for a Porsche. Sigh. I have neither.

  50. I have used a domestic washing machine exactly four times in my close to half century. Those four occasions have been terminal for three machines. Its a gift matched only by my abilities with plants. If my wife ever leaves me it will be back to using the laundromat because anything built with a less than industrial use in mind doesn’t seem to survive my attentions

  51. Jesus, Greg, why don’t you just tell me your washer EXPLODED WITH BLOOD too?

    Funny story.

    Two years ago I stripped and repaired my then 5-year-old dryer (bad heating element, cracked drum and a bent roller), and this last year I replaced the direct-drive motor on my then 7-year-old washer (and replaced the internal hose while I was at it). Why? Because I’m cheap? No, though that is part of why I spent a full weekend afternoon on both projects to save on the labor gouge charge. I repaired both because both had worked for more than half a decade, I doubted my ability to repair or even replace the post-Singularity AI proprietary control boards on the new ones, and I figured that, with the failure rates on these quality control nightmares, buying new ones was like going back for a second round of Russian Roulette when I’d already won the first.

    But we could actually survive fine without a dryer. Another shout-out for clothes lines that don’t heat-damage clothes fibers. We air-dry as long as it’s dry, not too dusty and don’t need it in a hurry. I say we but I’ve reluctantly relinquished my laundry duties to my partner (though I still do my own ironing).

    When I was a kid we had to hike barefoot over rusty nails for 90 miles through freezing rain to reach the laundromat…

    @Joris Meijer

    Cultural divergence strikes again. It took reading the text to realize this was a washer, top-loaders are very rare here.

    Front-loaders are mold magnets.

    All hail Washernet!

  52. I admit there are times when having my own washer/dryer would be nice, but living right across the street from a very nice, well kept up 24 hour laundromat comes pretty darn close in my mind.

  53. The last time I went home to visit my folks, I went downstairs to do a load of laundry before packing and heading out – and walked back upstairs, looked at my mom, and said “It must be the Apocalypse, because I’m about to ask you how to use a piece of technology.”

    She almost died laughing.

  54. I had a washer/dryer in my flat and it did neither function well. It finally died rather spectacularly (we’re talking sparks) after several repair attempts by different repair guys. I’m on my own (no kids) and have a laundrette in walking distance so I do one large load once a week and it’s done. And – novel concept – the dryers actually dry the clothes in 30 minutes as opposed to leaving them still damp after an hour like the old machine did.

  55. Washer& dryer (a pair, even a “stack apartment” size… the combo units suck… really…) set is/was on the checklist of “apartment shopping”, closely followed by “Dishwasher”, another petty indulgence for a guy who rolls out of bed at 0230 to go to work…
    Seriously, I worked up a “form” checklist and carried a clipboard and a tape measure with me. We looked at about twenty different units (“You want to charge me a MONTHLY FEE of $50 for having ONE CAT? I don’t think so…” “THIS is the bedroom? I thought it was a walk in closet!” “Got anything with a SMALLER bathroom? I can still barely scratch my butt in here without bashing my elbow on something…”)
    One of the best features of the current living place is the branch of the Seattle Public Library literally right next door. Kind of like having the RedBox AND Barnes&Ignoble, minus the $tarbuck$, next door… for free! it’s even air conditioned for the odd nasty-hot summer day… very nice for doing research…

  56. We also had a combo washer/dryer in our apartment when we lived in England. It washed OK, but was an abject failure at the “dryer” part. All it did was fill the place with steam.

  57. I’m currently using laundromats, with a washer and dryer occupying a large inconvenient chunk of my kitchen, but the painting’s done and the plumbing’s really almost all done, this time for sure, so that’ll be fixed soon.

    I like dishwashers, but I’m ok with doing dishes by hand. I really like dryers, but I’m ok with clotheslines when I live in climates where that works (alas, the condo rules where I live forbid drying it, but it’s dry enough here that hanging non-dryer-friendly things in the spare shower works ok.) Don’t mess with my washing machine; I think I’d rather do without the refrigerator than use a wringer-bucket like my grandma had in her basement.

    As somebody said, front-loading washers are rare in homes in the US, though having at least a few larger ones is common in laundromats. I had one briefly after an old washer died; we found that it didn’t get clothes wet enough to wash out cat urine, which was a frequent requirement with the aging cats we had at the time, so we returned it and got a basic top-loader.

  58. I will admit that washing machine breakdowns in the recent past have led to a couple of nice flirtations at the local laundromat, but otherwise…feh.

    (My worst so far – hello, Mike Brown! – was the closest available laundromat when I was stuck on a project in Seattle. Something like 8 blocks away from my hotel, no legal parking, and at least one dryer stack that had obviously caught fire in the recent past.

    (I hit the local stores for a good supply of socks and underwear, and managed to avoid going there as long as possible.)

  59. And @Shawn: I love the fact that the electrician signed his work. (And it was GOOD work; the requirement for independent 120VAC grounds didn’t come in until circa 1960 nationally. You didn’t need to rewire the grounds, BTW – the metal strap on the outlet that screws to the grounded metal box does the same thing. But you did no harm, and hopefully you really DID enjoy it.)

  60. We had one of those eeeevil combo unit washer/dryer things for a while. It sucked rocks. The salesperson told us, “All the lint goes right down the drain!”

    No. No it doesn’t. It clogs up the filter screen which is behind a small door that must be unscrewed and requires a bucket to catch the backed up, filthy and smelly accumulated water in the hose. Sure, it works okay when you get it home, but once broken in, will clog in only a few washes after cleaning.

    I mean, look, LOOK for gosh sakes at the loads of lint and fluff in your dryer’s screens. All that go down the drain? It is to laugh.

    And drying? Only if dry means “near enough to not actually dripping but easily wet enough to mildew.”

    At the time, we viewed the 4 hour cycle time as an improvement as we were regularly forgetting the wash in the washer until it was smelly and needed rewashing. Our cycle time at that point was about 5 days. We’ve since reformed and our new Bosch pair perform beautifully. Frontloaders. We love ’em. Just leave the washer open after using and they don’t mold.

  61. Can you wash a sleeping bag or king size quilt in there? Those are the items that send me into the village laundromat.

  62. In the years I lived in Silicon Valley I never did get to understand why America puts up with such pathetic washing machine technology. We bought a nice sensible Asko Swedish washer from ‘Whole Earth’ (remember them?) in 94 and it just finally got replaced this last year with a Miele. Stuff comes out almost dry from the spin, it tells you what is going on as it proceeds and generally does it properly.
    Really – top loaders in the 21st century? I don’t think so.

  63. Bit of advice …. If you use WD40 in your dryer, for say removing crayon, make sure you unplug it and adequately air out and clean all of the residue.

    I had a friend blow of the door off his dryer and almost kill himself in the process. He used an excessive amount of WD40 then turned it on and when the drive motor arced it ignited the WD40. No bueno.

  64. Oh, neat. New toys for our Lord Host, may His glorious Name be praisèd!

    Scalzi ftagn!

    *froths in anticipation for Lock In*

  65. In-house laundry machines and my dishwasher. Our first house could in no way, plumbing OR electrical supply, accommodate a dishwasher. I so appreciate my dishwasher!

  66. While I was waiting for the new transmission I noticed that existed one regenerative dryer in Japan which got very bad reviews because it did not have a drain.
    It used the hot outgoing air to heat the cold incoming air and just drained the resulting condensation onto the floor = The new dryer was a peeing puppy.
    If done properly the out going heated humid air will sweat and drip and the passive heat exchange will make the dryer cheaper to power.

  67. For everyone considering a washer/dryer, especially a high-end one, I would ask you to consider instead an alternative.

    Take for example, a nice set that costs in the ball park of $2,000. That $2,000 set, with water, electricity, and detergent, will cost you something like $500-$800 for a family of four to operate, for a year. It may be very slightly less if you are not on city water/sewer, but the math still holds close.

    For your first year investment, of $2500, you can do some really special things. Supporting a local wash/fold service provides numerous benefits:

    1. 80% of these services are locally owned and operated, and often family businesses. It is putting $2,500 into their hands. The typical small full-service laundromat or wash/fold service has less than $500,000 a year of revenue, meaning, they have in the ballpark of 200 customers, and an average of 5 employees.

    2. It deprives corporations who have systematically raped, destroyed, and looted the earth of $2,000 of revenue. Virtually every major appliance manufacturer is horrible. LG is atrocious, Maytag is largely overseas low-wage labor, it’s just an awful sector.

    3. But you might be thinking, HEY, when it breaks, they send out a repair guy who is a local small business man! Yes, it’s true. However, these companies are massively abusive, and have been in a wage cutting spiral. These repair men/services either work for largely consolidated services who pass the low pay down to the worker or they are independents, who are getting viciously squeezed by foreign corporations. Worse, tax loopholes mean that warranty repatriations generate a tax benefit, which further stresses the tax paying middle class.

    4. Small wash/fold or laundromats are on the leading edge of environmental conservation. Even the most energy efficient small units are just that – small units. They are inherently inefficient because of their relatively limited capacity. On top of that, many over clean your clothes. That heavy tray full of lint, thats your clothes being killed one load at a time. That’s the tradeoff. You want a quick load of laundry? It’s basically being cooked.

    Using a nice local service is part of a responsible chain of consumerism that has numerous benefits, and luckily most cost less than $50 a week to use. The 4 pillars of responsible textiles are:

    1. Buy higher quality clothes. Once you reach adult hood, you should be able to own a casual shirt for 7-10 years. Do your shirts last 7-10 years? If not, you are buying low-quality clothing that will cost 300%-500% more over the long-term. For trousers acceptable for daily work wear by a professional there is no useful life limitation – a well tailored pair of pants can easily last 10+ years of use in a bi-weekly rotation. Do you have any pants now that you wore during the first Clinton administration? Than you are buying clothes that are low quality.

    2. Use a tailor to get the right fit. Besides the fact that ill fitting clothes make you look sloppy and unkempt, well fitting clothes last longer and retain their shape and form better. Try on your clothes when the seasons change and get them adjusted as needed.

    3. Use a laundry service. They know how to wash your clothes. They know how to get your clothes clean. They how to do so without destroying your clothes, or shrinking them.

    4. Remember that the textile industry was once a backbone of the American middle-class. There was a time only 40 years ago when a two income family of factory workers running a loom was a great living. Two cars, a modest house, and a chicken in every pot. Now, the clothes that Americans make are made by slave or near slave labor, in unimaginably harsh working conditions. All across the world today workers are treated horribly producing your clothes. Even with brands that promise to pay a living wage, the conditions are abominable. Buildings collapse killing workers. Workers are maimed and paid a few days wages in recompense. In American history, the same conditions lead to dramatic class struggle, resulting in the labor movement and class solidarity that every American still benefits from today.

    Cheap clothing – and with that do it yourself laundry – has done terrible damage to America. Two generations ago, the average American family spent 7% of their income on clothing and laundry. Today, that 7% has shrunk to 4%, with most of that going directly overseas instead of supporting local agriculture, textiles, factories, distribution, laundry, tailors, and retail. It is a horrific development. For the poor and working class it is out of reach, but for the upper-middle class and above, consider cancelling or reducing your cable package and instead buying and consuming textiles and clothing responsibly. It is in your short-term economic interests, plus it’s in best interests of your country.

    It is the MOST GROWNUP thing you can to do improve your community when shopping for a new washer/dryer.

  68. I vaguely recall seeing a top-loading washing machine some time in my very early childhood. I think it was a twin tub. They really are pretty much unheard of these days in Ireland.


  69. mmm, top loaders really rare here in the UK; the norm is to put the washing machine under the kitchen worktop. I guess in the US people tend to have more space? We used to have a washer/dryer combo machine but the dryer part routinely fried the electrics so it wouldn’t work for days… gave up on that and got just a washer. I can’t imagine living somewhere where my neighbours felt entitled to tell me whether I can hang my washing out in my garden or balcony, I have no idea why anyone thinks that that’s reasonable (clearly a cultural disconect there).

  70. Top loaders just don’t wear out as quickly – the force of gravity isn’t working to wear the motor down. Also, the spin cycle on one is AWESOME, so I don’t know who has the idea that your clothes will be soggier coming out of a top loader. Also, you don’t get that mysterious moldy smell that comes from alot of side loaders. When water sinks downwards in a top loader, it just flows to the bottom of the drum, not to the old seal in the door. They hold alot more clothes, so you just aren’t washing as often. I’m lucky to have the room for a top loading machine, and it’s been going strong for a decade. I intend to hold onto my pre-merger Maytag for a long, long time.

  71. Scalzi: Jesus, Greg, why don’t you just tell me your washer EXPLODED WITH BLOOD too?

    Apparently the factory was built on top of an ancient burial site and they didn’t bother to move the remains. I found that out when our machine exploded with blood. The manufacturer paid for all expenses on the repair, but said I could never tell anyone.

    ah shit….

  72. Writing Contest: Write a drabble (exactly 100 words) beginning with “The washer exploded with blood.” So that means 95 words of your own choosing. Winner gets a no-prize.

    OK? GO.

  73. We just bought a new washer. Didn’t want a front loader with the room it is in. Looked at reviews and repair issues with the new HE top loaders and ended up buying a brand new Speed Queen. We are very happy with it. Not hight tech (no motherboard or digital stuff), but American made and backed by a ten year warranty and lifetime on the tub. For those of you who don’t recognize the Speed Queen name, that is the brand of washer that is by far most common in laundromats.

  74. John Hurt looked down at the see through lid and said “Oh no, not again”. Then the washer exploded with blood. Scream. Scream. Scream. (repeat until drabble limit reached)…

  75. The washer exploded with blood, but the bleach took care of a lot of it. She put all the clothes in the dryer, set at highest heat, and went up to the kitchen to wait. There was fresh-cooked bread there, and she cut herself a slice, half-noticing that the knife was also streaked red. She carefully ignored the door to the bedroom the whole time, hoping somehow that it would close, be closed, have never been open. The bread tasted salty.

  76. The washer exploded with blood colored poppies. Ellen never could throw anything away, and the old Westinghouse had been put in the yard and filled with soil when it finally crapped out in ’02. Under the tree lounged a baby buggy, converted to a garden trolley and patched thrice with sailcloth. She recycled everything out there – even me. The awkward looking wind chimes attracted critters for a while, but sunlight and time eventually brightened them. If I’m lucky, when the wind plays my music you can hear the story of how I came to rattle around in this tree.

    …gee, that was actually fun.

  77. The washer exploded with blood.

    The blood, she quickly discovered, was coming from the main supply; all the faucets and toilets were equally affected.

    She found the main cutoff valve, closed it, and went out to talk to the neighbors.

    They were out in their front yard, kneeling, sobbing, shouting incoherent apologies and pleas at the sky. Their cat crouched under the minivan, shielded from the sparse scarlet drizzle that was trickling down the windows in viscous streams. Cautiously, she sniffed at a cooling rivulet on the concrete at her feet, then settled in and began lapping at it, purring.

  78. Xopher – when you make a wish on the internet, it either comes true and gets broadcast with the headline, “What happened next will renew your faith in humanity,” or it gets mocked cynically on Reddit. You had 50/50 odds.

  79. Sihaya, your story is wonderful, but I get 99 when I word-count it using Word. I checked and it IS counting the “’02,” which I thought might be an issue. Can you think of a place to add one word, to make it a true drabble?

    Lila, I love your drabble. Grim, but…aside from what Sihaya did (and kudos to Sihaya!), can’t see much in the way of nongrim drabbles coming from this.

  80. Narrated by a ghost whose ribs have been turned into a windchime is ‘nongrim’? Sheesh, your bar is pretty low.

  81. The washer exploded with blood. Alice quickly shut it off and switched the valve back to the failing kidney. “Ouch,” Bob grinned. “Sorry,” Alice said, “your blood pressure is through the roof.” She removed what was left of the blood washer from the lines and put it in a biohazard bag. Alice then opened an ice cooler and pulled out her last washer. She attached it to the vessels, tightened the clamps, and slowly opened the valve. The washer grew taught as it filled with blood. “Sorry, I don’t have the right part,” Alice said. “What are you, Nexus 9?”

  82. Ah. I didn’t assume a (formerly) human narrator. I get four duh-head raps for not picking up on what is obvious now.

    So yeah. Likely to be grim.

    But ‘blood colored poppies’ could have gone in a completely nongrim direction. Happy poppies! Spring! Opiates! (Well, maybe not with the opiates.) What I really meant was that it’s destined to be grim if the blood is really blood.

    Annnnd, as Greg has just demonstrated, if the washer is a clothes-washing machine. Only moderately grim as it stands.

  83. Alright, the addition of one WHOLE word. I made the mistake of counting by hand. Mine started off nongrim because of those poppies, but I’ve been reading Bradbury Halloween stories a lot lately, so it had to at least vacillate towards a somewhat bloodless, brightly colored, yet sad sort of horror:

    The washer exploded with blood colored poppies. Ellen never could throw anything away, and the old Westinghouse had been put in the yard and filled with soil when it finally crapped out in ’02. Under the tree lounged a baby buggy, converted to a garden trolley and patched thrice with sailcloth. She recycled everything out there – even me. The awkward looking wind chimes attracted critters for a while, but sunlight and time eventually brightened them prettily. If I’m lucky, when the wind plays my music you can hear the story of how I came to rattle around in this tree.

  84. The washer exploded with blood.
    “Black blood of the earth.” Egg Shen said.
    “You mean oil?” Jack Burton asked.
    “No, I mean black blood of the earth.”Egg replied.
    “Hey, what more can a guy ask for?”
    “Oh, the six-demon bag!” Egg exclaimed.
    “Terrific, a six-demon bag. Sensational. What’s in it, Egg?”
    “Wind, fire, all that kind of thing!”.
    “A brave man likes the feel of nature on his face, Jack.” Wang said.
    “Yeah, and a wise man has enough sense to get in out of the rain!” Egg replied.
    “We really shook the pillars of the laundrymat, didn’t we, Wang?”

  85. Thanks! Can’t stop myself. Thought of this while making breakfast:

    The washing machine exploded with blood. Unfazed, the barista toweled off her face and scooped a cup of the rusty substance out of the drum, then poured it into a press with a few tablespoons of grounds. After a few minutes of steeping she served it in a cup with a topping of milk, decorated with a longhorn motif. “Cattleman’s Special” she announced to the judge. He couldn’t hide his distaste as he raised the concoction to his lips, but his surprise was immediately evident to the audience. “Not bad,” he said, “but deductions for the foam’s tendency to scream.”