Cheryl responds to a question about how to do laundry from a blindness perspective. A few other community members toss in their own tips as Cheryl gives us a comprehensive overview of tackling laundry and the trappings and logistics on a campus, apartment and at home.
Sorting colors from whites, soap choices from gel packs to liquid and dry detergents. Cheryl covers this and there are a lot of good tips in this cast for you to pick and choose from. Be sure to check out more podcasts from our Household category.
See complete transcription below.
Laundry 101: Tips and Tricks From a Blindness Perspective
There is something I was thinking about because very soon I should be moving out on my own and stuff, and I was wondering like about washing laundry.
I know most of you blind people probably live on your own or,your partner is blind or something like that, so it’s kind of curious to know like, how as a blind person do you do your laundry on your own, because I can do it, but sorting the clothes out is kind of a challenge so, being the person that I am I don’t like to ask people to be doing this and doing that, to me it gets frustrating.
It’s just that I want to know like, your opinions on what you do to fix this, like do you label your clothes, like colored from white and dark.
Maybe an app on your phone that you could take a picture of it and it tells you what color it is, which I find that will kind of take up a lot of time but, I’m just curious to know how that’s being done?
Welcome to Blind Abilities, I’m Jeff Thompson.
And we’ll be hearing from Cheryl talking about laundry.
We get requests sometimes and this one came in and how can you refuse this request.
We hope you enjoy.
Hey everybody it is Lucy or Cheryl.
Today I want to discuss the dreaded topic of laundry and I know a lot of people aren’t really into laundry but unfortunately it’s one of those things that in life we have to do or else it just mounts up like Mount Everest, so let’s tackle it before it gets out of control.
So if this is your first time doing laundry this is sort of who I’m gearing this towards but those who have been doing it a while maybe there’s a couple tips that I could provide to help out with that.
[Laundry sound effects]
So here’s a few quick tips for you to get started, first of all you want to make sure that you check your pockets before you put your clothes in the laundry.
Make sure you don’t have cellphones or ink pens or anything like that in there because they are either going to be destroyed or they’re going to destroy your laundry.
So make sure you check those pockets.
Next thing is to make sure that your clothes aren’t bunched up when you put them in the laundry.
So make sure your socks are completely unraveled and if they’re all balled up, they’re not going to wash properly, but they’re also not going to dry, so to make sure that stuff dries properly, make sure it’s not all balled up or bunched up.
Next thing is to put your clothes inside out, to preserve the color, and also to protect your shirts that have emblems or writing on them.
If you put them inside out it doesn’t agitate against that, and if it does, if they are outside, then a lot of times will cause it to look faded or cracked.
So to preserve writing or emblems on your shirt, turn it inside out, and also if you walk up to a washer and it smells like bleach, I would try to avoid that washer because you don’t know if somebody had dumped bleach into the bleach reserve portion, or they just dumped bleach in the washer.
So I would try to move away from that because it might do some damage to your clothing and that would not be fun.
The next thing is to wash your towels by themselves.
So a lot of times if you feel shirts, especially like cotton shirts and they kind of feel like they’re balled up a little bit, like you can feel this ball feeling, it’s simply because somebody has washed towels with clothing, and so that terrycloth kind of agitates against the shirts, and then it causes the balled up feeling.
So I would try to avoid washing towels with clothing, wash them by themselves, and another thing about towels, especially new towels, they like just explode in the washer.
They have these like little lint that gets all over everything, little pieces of cloth that explode, so your shirts and everything are gonna wind up with these little fuzzies all over it, so if they’re new towels, make sure you do wash them by themselves.
Since our mission here at Blind Abilities is to advocate to show that can be done independently but also to show that there’s multiple ways to do a certain task.
So take a listen to what others have stated about doing laundry from a blindness perspective.
There’s multiple different ways to do laundry.
If you have clothing that state that it must be hand washed, then make sure you hand wash it and that can be done by using wool light, and what I like to do is put it in my tub and I let it soak in there with lukewarm water, put the clothes in there, I kind of do one at a time, and then I will put the little bit of wool light in there, kind of swish it around a little bit, let it sit for a few minutes, and then I rinse it out with the water, and then I lay it flat on a towel and roll it up like a tootsie roll, and then lay it flat to dry.
A lot of times sweaters and things like that will be hand wash only, so make sure you do the hand wash only.
For other laundry that you can put in the washer, make sure you check the tags and you should be able to use like knfb reader or something like that to help assist you with understanding what it says.
Whether it be cold or warm, and whether you’re allowed to tumble dry it or not.
Some actually say, do not tumble dry, so if it says it don’t do it.
And a lot of times it’ll say “like colors” so if you have for example red shirts, those tend to bleed quite a bit so wash it with other red shirts, or pink or something similar in color, or dark or whites.
Jeff Thompson here and here’s a quick tip that I use, not only do I separate from colors whites to darks, that type of thing, I also separate by texture.
I don’t want my heavy sweat pants or my heavy corduroys or jeans in with stuff that is very like man-made, like a nylon jogging shirt, or something of that nature, I don’t want the different weights to battle each other when it’s aggregated by the agitator and all that stuff.
So I like to have like textures together to.
Laundry facilities vary, and if you’re in a dorm type situation a lot of times the dormitory laundry facility may not actually be in your building, you may have to go somewhere else, and maybe in your building, but you typically have a coin/card situation going on.
So as far as the card goes, I haven’t heard them to be very accessible.
What you might need to do in that situation is maybe get some assistance, maybe somebody else in your building might be doing their laundry at the same time, or if you have a residence assistant at your building, they may be able to help you too.
So ask for help in that situation if at all possible because as far as I know, they’re not exactly accessible, you have to swipe the card and then possibly select a washer or dryer that you want to have it go towards, so that might not be an accessible situation, and check out, maybe there is some coin laundry somewhere that you could use.
So the coins are a little bit different.
You just put them in the machines, so for example here at my building, you have to put in six coins or one dollar and fifty cents to operate the washer, and it’s just one single slot and there is another button there on the front that if your quarter gets stuck for example, you can kind of push it and it’ll push out the bottom and reject the coin, and you can try again.
And then there’s also another type situation where you have like a slot, like a tray almost, and you put in, you know six coins and they all lay flat and then when you’re ready you just kind of push it in with your hand like a chik chik sound goes on, and there you go.
Once you pay for your wash, then the machine will allow you to select options.
And some machines are very simple, you just select a button.
For example here in my building we have a machine with six buttons on it.
Three on the top row and three on the bottom row, and they go left to right at the top is hot, and then warm in the middle, and then cold on the far right.
And then the second row is more selective, so it’s like small load, or permanent press, or something along those lines.
I don’t typically use those buttons, but a good way to know what’s there is to use Talking Goggles app that’s what I used, and it’ll read them to you.
You could also use maybe Facetime with a friend or the B Specular, or something else similar along those lines, Be My Eyes possibly to help with that to know.
And what I do is I just kind of memorize, some people like to put the dots on the machine, so that’s completely fine, but what I like to do, I just remember like hot all the way to the left, cold all the way to the right, and so it’s really simple for me to remember.
Another thing you want to know is once you have put in your coins you want to know how long it takes to wash it.
And what I like to do is set my timer using Siri.
I just say Siri set timer for 30 minutes.
Okay 30 minutes and counting.
Because one of the washer takes 30 minutes, the other one takes 32.
So I just tell her 30 minutes and then my alarm goes off, and I don’t forget my laundry.
When you’re in a dorm type situation, or possibly in a laundromat, a lot of times you don’t want to leave your clothing unattended because people do steal and it’s an easy way for them just to grab a new pair of jeans or whatever it is that they want.
So it might be better in those type situations to just wait there with your laundry, and take something to do.
Take your iPhone with you, take your homework with you and work on it while you wait for your laundry.
Not having clothing, it’s not a good thing.
[Swoosh sound effect]
Juanita offered some tips on labeling, like the little tabs you can buy from maxi aides, or independent living.
The little plates that you can sew on to your clothing,
Those, I demonstrate those to my students because a lot of people like those.
They have the Braille on them.
There are also, this one requires some sighted assistance though, a lot of my students choose to put a letter on the tag of the clothing with puffy paint.
Next is our soap and soaps a big deal.
First thing I would like to say is, ask your parents what kind of soap they use, and if you’re allergic to any types of soaps because finding out you’re allergic to soaps is not a good thing.
So if your parents already know then ask them.
Soap is pretty straightforward, there’s a couple things to watch out for.
One, some of the soaps actually contain bleach.
So you want to make sure that you get your regular soap unless you intend on buying the bleach soap, because if you add the bleach soap to your colored laundry, it’s going to ruin it so let’s not do that.
There’s just a wide range of soaps and some of them are manufactured for certain types of machines, like the high-efficiency, and then some aren’t, so make sure you know what kind of machine you’re using.
And there’s some debate about the different types of soaps.
So for example the liquid versus the powder versus the pods.
I tend to prefer the liquid, however the powder is fine too, and if you’re transporting the laundry soap to the laundry area and it’s a far distance, you might want to buy something a little bit smaller.
You could always transfer soap into smaller containers as well to make sure that it’s a little bit easier to get to where you’re going without lugging this huge thing around.
So, and you could always put the powdered soap possibly in like sandwich baggies or something like that just to make it easier for you, than to having to carry a big box of soap across campus or to a laundromat, but make sure you take enough soap, and make sure you measure it out well.
Some people put it in right away, let the water come up, and then they put their clothing in.
But with some of the washers, they don’t allow you to do it especially the front loading machines.
They don’t tend to allow you to do that, or the newer smart washers that they actually have to kind of agitate for a second to find out how much is in there before it determines how much water is going to be put in there, so and some of those circumstances you’re not allowed to do that.
[Laundry sound effects]
This is Laurie Thompson.
What I did because I have two children and I was blind, whenever the kids would, when I would take their shirts or pants off, I would always spray Shout on the clothing, whether I knew it was stained or not, and I would use the spray Shout because the spray seemed to kind of hit the whole surface of the shirt or the pants.
I didn’t have to necessarily aim for a direct spot or stain, so Shout, and that seems to work, and it’s a bleach free stain remover so you don’t have to worry about it touching other pieces of clothing and making white spots on something else that it touches, and you can spray it on there and throw it in the laundry, and it kind of works, and then you know you throw it in the washer and it kind of works with the detergent that you’re using to get the stains out.
And the longer it stays on the better it works and it would you know, keep them bright and fresh.
[Swoosh sound effect]
Soap, back to soap.
Pods, well pods can be good because they’re convenient, however I find that they don’t tend to wash as well as the soap or the powder, with a liquid soap or the powder, but it’s completely up to you whatever you prefer.
The other thing I would like to caution you about with the pods, is if you have a guide dog or an animal of any kind of pet, they could be very dangerous for your dog, especially if they get a hold of them and there’s been reports of dogs getting a hold of them and winding up in emergency situations.
So if you have a guide dog, pods might not be the way you want to go just based on that, make sure they get put up, or away if you do.
And also if you have small children obviously, kids think they’re like candy or something and they eat them and so that’s not good so be cautious the pods in those cases.
[Swoosh sound effect]
Jeff back again, and what I’d like to use is a liquid laundry detergent, because if you’re going to be in a dorm or in an apartment or someplace where you don’t have control over when you can put the soap in, such as one that locks as soon as you turn it on, you know you can’t put it in when the water goes in, you got to put it in right away, so the liquid seems to break down.
And I put it in before I put the clothes in, and remember before you put your clothes in, check the bottom of the tumbler, because there might be a stray sock, and just so kind of sweep your hand around the tumbler as you come up so some things do stick to the sides.
You don’t want to stray something come up in your laundry and you sit there trying to figure out what the heck is this, you know, so I like liquid soap, whereas powder you put it in there then you put the clothes on top then the water sprays in and I’m not sure if the powder all breaks down, it probably does eventually but you know I like the liquid because it goes down into the reservoir and then that water gets there, and then when it all starts turning it’s all soapy.
Another thing is if you are shopping at a grocery store such as a Kroger or a Meijer, or something like that, and Target has their cartwheel app.
If you look in the digital coupons area, a lot of times they’ll have coupons for laundry soap on there, and I know P&G products which manufacture Tide typically do put manufacturer coupons out on those digital coupon apps to allow you to use them, and recently they’ve been having like a $2.00 off one so, you can save a little bit of money that way.
They also have other brands of laundry soap that you can use.
And I don’t work for any type of laundry soap so I can’t endorse any of them.
Another thing you might want to consider is awesome.
I use them all the time.
They are the Shout color catchers.
And so what these are, they kind of feel like a laundry dryer sheet, about that size, however they’re like a lot thicker sort of more like a paper towel feeling.
And you basically throw one in, and so if you have a shirt that bleeds at all color wise, it’s going to catch it and it’s not going to cause damage to your other clothing.
Those are really good investments and they also have digital coupons for those quite often.
So look into those, I think they’re a saver especially when you can’t see and you don’t know if you accidentally put in a colored shirt into your white load, or your light-colored load.
So those are a great thing to have around.
[Swoosh sound effect]
The other thing is the dryer sheet, a lot of people use them, you just throw it in with the dryer and it causes it to smell a little bit better, and it also alleviates a lot of the static electricity that you would get from putting your clothes in the dryer.
[Laundry sound effects]
Moving on, there’s just a lot of things with laundry.
How do we get our laundry to the laundry area?
And so obviously this is another one of those preference things, and see what works for you, but if you have a guide dog or cane, and you’re moving around, baskets or hampers might be a little bit hard for you to get around.
So they have these mesh laundry bags and you basically throw your dirty clothes in there, and then they have a drawstring at the top.
They’re sort of like a Santa Claus bag of toys kind of bag.
And then you and then you just kind of you know throw it over your shoulder or something like that, use your cane or dog whatever, get to the laundry and you could just throw everything in the washer, and there you go.
Some people use rolling hampers, they have those, or baskets, or you could just use a duffel bag or something whatever it is that you want to use to get over to the laundry facility.
Now if you’re going on a bus and you decide to go to a laundromat instead of using the dorm, or if you don’t have it in your home or apartment, you can do the same.
And there is one thing that I would like to say about the laundromat, is if you’re living in a college area, then a lot of times they have certain specials at the laundromat.
So for example the town that I used to live in was a college town, on certain days of the week they would have free drying for college students, or free washing for college students, so you can save a little bit of money there.
So look into those.
Like the dormitory ones, they are tending to move over to a card type situation.
And so what I would like to say with that is if you can find a laundromat that has an attendant, this is what I did, then they can help you with you know, selecting what you need to select with the washer, and swiping your card and putting money in and all that, you know that kind of stuff.
But there’s a lot of unmanned laundromats too, so you might get there and they’re just basically open door, you go in, you do your laundry, and you leave, there’s not really anybody attending them.
So if you can find an attended laundromat that would be better they can help you if you have any issues.
Things are going to be similar there too with the coins.
If you have a coin type situation you can just put your laundry in, put your coins in, and then you can transfer them over to the dryer.
[Laundry sound effects]
The laundromat also has multiple load washers.
And these are typical front loaders, and you can typically put between three to five loads of laundry in there.
Just make sure that you add a little bit more soap, but this is just kind of, make it a little bit easier to put everything in there but, also be cautious if you have multiple colors.
So try out one of those color catchers.
Another tip from Jeffrey.
I tell you what, if you get the chance when the dryer gets done to take your clothes out right then, hang them up, fold them at that moment, that’s the best opportunity because you get the least amount of wrinkles, it won’t get compacted on top of it.
You don’t shove them into a basket and let them pack on down, carry them all the way back.
Fold them up when they’re still warm and they’ll look a lot better.
[Swoosh sound effect]
Also make sure that you check the lint trap, and make sure that that’s cleared out because if the lint trap gets too full, it can actually cause a fire, so let’s avoid that.
And also sometimes take a few extra coins because a lot of times the coins that you get from the bank sometimes, especially up here where we’re close to Canada, we will get Canadian coins and those do not work in the washer.
So take a few extra coins too just in case you do get a couple Canadian coins in the mix.
So those are the tips that I have for you on doing your laundry, and if you have any suggestions let us know.
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When we share what we see through each other’s eyes, we can then begin to bridge the gap between limited expectations and the realities of blind abilities.
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Thanks for listening.