Laundry Envy

I’ve always been relaxed about laundry, and fairly happy with the results we get for the effort we expend. I know things don’t come out perfectly white, but hey, no one is dying, and we all look reasonably presentable the majority of the time.

My serenity was seriously shaken the other day.

I got a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend who has two little girls just older than mine. In this bag were half a dozen pairs of the most pristinely white socks I have ever seen outside of a Hanes sack. These were USED socks, people. They had the washed feeling and the little fuzzballs that come from being worn at least half a dozen times or so. But they were so white they positively glowed.

My own children’s socks, in comparison, look like they’ve been slogged through mud puddles and left to dry by a campfire. They’re relatively clean, I suppose– they don’t stink, and they’re soft, not stiff with grime. And they are cleaner than when they went into the wash. But they are woefully grey next to the pristine whiteness of my friend’s hand-me downs.

My inadequacy as a laundress assailed me, and I went a little wacky in my head for a few minutes. I imagined calling my friend to ask her sock-scrubbing secrets. I imagined going to the store and purchasing half a dozen new cleaning products to try. I imagined gathering every white sock in the house and making some kind of witches brew of toxic bleach and whatever else it takes, and FORCING those darned socks into whiteness.

In fact, I even took this picture, to show you all the appalling awfulness of my whites. About the time I saw the evidence on my computer screen I came to my senses.

Yeah, one sock is whiter.

But the difference is not nearly as extreme as I imagined in my head, and certainly not enough to go on a laundry rampage. After all, my friend has three kids. I have eight. One of the ways that I survive mothering 8 children and still have time to do things I enjoy is by LETTING GO of the things less important to me. And let’s face it: 364 days of the year, the shade of our socks matters to me not at all.

I took a deep breath. Mellow…..

Then I went and got that white shirt out of my daughter’s drawer– another item from the hand-me-down bag — and I put it on her. Glow while you can, shirt.

Fifteen minutes later– I kid you not– my two year old had managed to plaster Floam blobs all over the poor defenseless thing.

Whew. Glad we got that over with.

You’re livin’ at my house now, whitey.


  1. See – yet another reason I like you – you’re socks aren’t perfectly white.

    But at least they’re not light green. I can’t figure out why, but when we bleach our whites in our European washer, they come out light green.

    We’ve stopped using bleach, but now everything is just dingy. I’m not sure which is the better option, but at least without bleach I don’t have to worry about bleaching something that shouldn’t be in there!

  2. Okay, seriously, Mary? This is one of your best posts ever. “Youโ€™re livinโ€™ at my house now, whitey.”…*snort*

  3. Hilarious. I have a friend who has the same luck with whites. Her secret?

    Powdered Tide with Bleach. Soak your whites a few hours before washing in the dissolved detergent, and they will GLOW. But I don’t have time, money or interest to do this. So I just oogle her whites.

  4. My mother-in-law observed one of my children walking on the patio in their sock feet one day and said, “You’re going to really need to scrub those socks to get them white when she takes them off!!” I nearly fainted. You mean you’re supposed to slave over them and they’re supposed to stay white? Not at my house, dearest ๐Ÿ™‚ It ain’t gonna happen. We do good to just have clean clothes on our poor, deprived, gray-stockinged children’s backs.

  5. And that is why my kids have to wear shoes in public. Because our socks aren’t that white either!

  6. Hi! Funny post! Love your blog. (And, who knew? Some people’s white socks stay white? Huh.)

    Coming out of lurkdom to ask you a pressing clothes-related question:
    Through how many children do your clothes typically get handed down before they’re worn through? With eight children, surely you’re the expert on this one.

  7. Your socks and my socks look the same =) Actually yours may looks a little whiter then mine!!
    I used to bleach them till I ruined a few of my hubby’s shirts in the process!!


  8. LOL

    I’ve experienced the same envy. What bothers me now is that two of my kids are “borrowing” my and my husband’s socks all the time. One wears holes in the things so fast it makes my pinky toe spin and the other turns them grayer than gray. My solution? I went out and bought gray socks. I told my kids the gray ones were theirs and the white ones are ours (My husband and me). So they wear the gray ones until they’re all dirty, don’t bother getting them to the laundry room, and then borrow ours anyway. Sigh.

  9. my socks are like yours; and i don’t have ANY kids. i just don’t care too much, i guess. ๐Ÿ™‚ i’d like the shirts to stay white if they’re meant to be, but i’m a messy eater!

  10. HaHaHaHa – I’m going to be laughing about this for DAYS! “You’re livin’ at my house, whitey!” Hahahah

    Ok, really, I don’t claim to have the whitest whites ever (’cause I do have one of the messiest children EVER), but I love love love Tide. Powdered, liquid; I don’t care – just so long as it is on sale, and I have a coupon! And I get the with bleach stuff, if it’s on sale too! I don’t soak or anything – just use the Tide! As a matter of fact when we got married, hubs said, “But my mom uses all generic, and it’s SO much cheaper.” And I said, “Fine, take it all . . . but I have to buy Tide!” And he saw that it was good.


  11. LOL! Your living at my house now, whitey…

    You are too freakin’ funny. And my socks…you don’t even want to see my socks.

  12. The SAME thing has happened to me! LOL That, or I notice it on other kids’ feet when they kick off their shoes over here. What is THAT about?! Still, I’m totally with you on the mellowing part. Really, just HOW important IS it in the grand scheme of things.

    …still, my OCD will nag me on stuff like that for days if I let it.

    And once the socks have lived on my kids’ feet and our well-worn floors, they don’t make it out alive. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also, you know how the second you buy your kids an article of clothing sometimes they outgrow it? I’ll bet that’s what happened — you essentially got some new socks. I could go on…

    Thank God for friends that keep us striving in these ways. Plus, it would probably make that mom’s day to know the whiteness of her clothes stood out to you. I would tell her! I would inwardly beam with pride for a week over something like that.

  13. Hysterical! I think my house is alot like your house. I’ve been trying the OxyClean and detergent with bleach, but it still doesn’t work. . . I figure socks, so what. Children they just don’t keep. I’d rather spend the time with her than scrubbing socks.

  14. Also, Mary, I’ll bet you have some sneaky “slip outsiders.” Know what I mean? The ones who slip outside in just their socks. My daughter does that, and even Oxy and Clorox don’t have a prayer.

    There, I’m done.

  15. “Youโ€™re livinโ€™ at my house now, whitey.” Crack me UP!!!

  16. I howled with laughter too…. just please tell me your family’s underwear is also sort of ….um….grey? If you say sparkling white I may choke.

  17. One time on a job application, there was a question which ask about previous awards.
    I’ve received some recognition and plaques and pieces of crisp paper with fancy lettering in my day. They’re mostly in a box in the closet in the study.

    While at that table in the corner, sitting there to fill out the app, overhearing bits of conversations in the hall, how many times the phone rang, well, actually, I wasn’t really sure how much I wanted to work there.

    In the space provided, I wrote “When a co-worker asked how I managed to keep my uniform so white, I took it as a compliment to my laundry prowess.”

    I left the app in the box at the Receptionist’s desk.
    Next day, the supervisor called and said she would like an interview. During which, she asked “So, how do you keep your uniform white?”

    DREFT detergent, ma’am. It works great. Worth every penny.

    I was an employee there for almost six years.

  18. Okay – I have never thought about this before. But the realization that you have to sort socks for TEN PEOPLE absolutely makes you deserving of some sort of prize. Do you have some sort of secret for keeping each sock with its mate? Because I near ’bout lose my mind sorting socks for the three of us.

    Is it odd that I’m fascinated by this topic? I seriously want to know your manage-all-the-socks secret.

  19. I love your writing style Mary. You have a real talent! Thanks for the chuckle, I needed that today. ๐Ÿ™‚


  20. Hehehehe…

  21. I say, the greyer your socks.. the more environmentally friendly you are!… or so I hope ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Liz in Australia says:

    *snicker* I just try not to buy anything white if I can possibly avoid it. White socks on kids are just silly!

  23. hilarious. even with just one child…i can totally relate to this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. very funny!! I have the exact same laundry issues.

  25. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Too cute.

  26. Totally awesome! I’m not sure I’ve commented here before, but I’m an everyday reader. Thanks for reminding us what it’s all about.

  27. Christine Masloske says:

    Great post! And now you know how many of us struggle in this department.

    Anyways, I’ve two things to add to these comments. First is that I believe Mrs. Stewart’s bluing is what can make whites REALLY white. No, I don’t take the time to use because I’ve learned long ago to care less about the socks (I’ve inspected my friend’s children’s socks and realized they don’t care either!).

    And a personal *victory*, if you will…my mother-in-law is a neat freak & one of my sil’s lives in a mansion and has a maid clean her house. Recently, my daughter came back from their homes with socks that looked BLACK! I couldn’t believe it! I think I’ve figured it out though — SWIFFER. Those things make your floors appear shiny but they actually leave them disgustingly dirty. So that made my day that a lil’ ol’ bad housekeeper such as myself has cleaner floors! Ha!

    Love in Christ,

  28. I love it, Mary! my socks aren’t white, either….and I only have myself to wash for ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for the laugh!

  29. Do you have a front loader? They get clothes noticably cleaner! Really. I was shocked at the difference when using a regular machine at my in-laws house. I never pre-treat anything but it all comes out clean. For whites I use the “whitest white” setting with bleach.

    Funny writing as always.

  30. Love your post, as always, Mary! It reminds me to “race your own race.” Sure, it’s easy to compare ourselves with everyone else and every other family’s situation, but we shouldn’t! Race Your Own Race! Seabiscuit, was it?

    “Youโ€™re livinโ€™ at my house now, whitey.” I LOVE it! ๐Ÿ™‚


  31. yikes! That should read, “Run Your Own Race.”

  32. I scrub my kids’ socks on the driveway and then dry them under the trampoline. Then we store them in the garage. White socks have a very short life span here.

  33. this is the funniest post I’ve EVER read! we have issues keeping things white too- and if we DO get to keep them white- they don’t last long as the bleach eats through them in no time……..I’m going to worry less and let it go too!

  34. Since I know to whom you are referring….this gave me a HUGE laugh!!! Bleach baby……bleach.

  35. HILARIOUS. The last line was my favorite.

  36. You capture things SO well, Mary! I love it!!! You inevitably make me laugh : ) We had the grey sock dilemma when it was just Jason and I, so you are doing great! : ) Maybe it’s that we only buy socks every 4 or 5 yrs??? I don’t think either of us have bought socks since we’ve been married (for ourselves)!!! Yep, some things just aren’t that important! : )

  37. That new Ultimate Care Clorox bleach is awesome. I saw a review on Rocks in my Dryer (I think) about it and I bought it, totally b/c of peer pressure and wanting to be cool. It works wonders though!

  38. Thanks for sharing your crazy with us. And with so much humor! I love it. I have all kinds of crazy moments like that too.

  39. Too funny!