The only time in my life I recall longing to do laundry was after our first child was born, when ANYTHING, down to matching socks, sorting whites from the grays, or watching the machine agitator rotate back and forth, was preferable to dealing with a small, demanding, noisy, messy, burpy, smelly, screaming, clutching and clawing bundle of humanity that would not sleep.
(I wonder if this is why we eventually had three more?)
Despite the challenges, raising children is infinitely preferable to doing laundry, although it’s not as if there were a choice in the matter to drop the latter from your life, and finding the right detergent to do the job is a task I am still working on, as that first baby is producing laundry creators of her own.
Other than trying to identify the least dyed, least aromatic product on the shelf, I claim no brand loyalty, but, like an organ grinder’s monkey, I am attracted by bright colors and bold writing proclaiming “102 Loads in a Bottle the Size of a Liquid Cough Medicine Container!”
I feel as if I am in a silent auction, standing before the array of heavily perfumed packaging and lip reading 84 Loads! in the orange box and 96.5 Loads! in the teal bottle, and pounding the gavel for the third time at the 102!
One time, in a spirit of experimentation, I marked on the bottle every time I did a load to see how close I could get to 102, but I lost interest or mislaid the pen or something, and never did finish the project.
But I did figure something out:
The cap is the crucial element, and, depending upon how full you fill it, this determines how many loads you’ll get.
This is painfully obvious, right?
So tell me, the last time you did laundry, did you fill the cap to the top?
You won’t get 102 loads that way.
Fully engaging my Organ Grinder Monkey Brain, I looked on the back of the bottle for Directions. Unfortunately, although my brain is sharp, my eyesight is fuzzy, and the tiny writing was difficult to decipher, but that I eventually did:
“For small to normal loads, fill the cap up to the first line. For larger loads, fill up to the second, third, fourth or fifth line, or to the top.”
Wait — wait — there are LINES on the cap? Where?
The cap is dark blue, opaque plastic, and if there are lines on it, then they are subtle indeed.
And there are FIVE lines.
I brought the cap close to my face and stared, then ran the tip of my finger along the inside. Just barely, I felt an obtrusion at the one-third point, then another slightly above that, then another, and another, and another — five. Knowing where they were, I was able to make out the faintest 3/8 inch lines staggered around the interior of the cap.
And I saw that, in order to realize my full 102 loads, I must use roughly two tablespoons of viscous blue liquid, just up to the first unidentifiable line.
Human nature being what it is, I can’t stop at that first line, even if I could see it, and continue pouring a decent shot — not to the top, because that would be conceding defeat to the manufacturers, but to roughly the 2/3 mark, which I think is about the fourth line — resulting in 61 loads as opposed to 102.
I find this same phenomenon of absentminded lines on medicine caps, which is disturbing, because while doubling the dose of laundry detergent — assuming that I’m not stupid enough to ingest the viscous blue liquid — results in no more than getting half my money’s worth, overshooting the lines of recommended medication is a bit more serious.
In this day of bright happy packaging and labels Siren calling us from across the aisle, is it too much to ask that the measurement lines be easy to identify?
And before it be pointed out that there are far more serious issues to contemplate than invisible demarcation lines on plastic cups, allow me to observe that these lines — or lack of thereof — are a symptom of a larger issue:
Being forthright and honest. Or not.
If the marketers and manufacturers of assorted products can spend the money on a loud, lavish label that shouts at me, 102 Loads!, they no doubt could make it easier to identify what an actual load really is.
But they don’t.