My First Experience with the Spanish Laundry Process

I'm writing this post because one of the goals of this blog is to help you guys learn from my mistakes. I'm your "guinea pig" so to speak. Thinking of going abroad but not sure? Just arrived in a new destination and don't know where to start? I've got you covered.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to make a few mistakes along the way. So please, learn from me. It's the only way you're going to survive the crazy lifestyle associated with going abroad.

First thing you need to know now though is that I'm a procrastinator. We're talking big time here guys. That's probably the reason I'm a little behind in my posts and that this story happened about a week and a half ago. My bad. Sorry to keep you on the edge of your (toilet) seats.

But I'm a proud member of #ProcrastiNATION. An ambassador if you will. I work well under pressure. I like the thrill of finishing an assignment right before it's due or getting to the liquor store (supermarket in Spain and Europe) the minute before it closes.

Just kidding. It sucks. But it's the life I've chosen to lead, and if I can get past that, so should you.

The point of all this is that my procrastination pertains to many (if not all) walks of life. Including laundry. Oh, how I despise laundry. Especially when I have to do it myself.

*TO MY MOTHER AND FATHER PLEASE SCROLL PAST THE PHOTO BELOW AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE*

  My current pile. It's actually not that bad, kind of. I even pre-separated the whites and colors! If you have a problem looking at my dirty underwear, kindly leave. Photo by Max Siskind

My current pile. It's actually not that bad, kind of. I even pre-separated the whites and colors! If you have a problem looking at my dirty underwear, kindly leave. Photo by Max Siskind

I'm not trying to sound stuck up or snobby here, but doing your own laundry sucks. If given the opportunity, I know each and every one of you would let someone else do it. That's why, when I'm home, I have people for that. I like to call them Mom and Dad (love you guys!). 

Seriously though, I haven't done my own laundry since freshman year of college. Since that time, I've realized that I could strategically plan my visits home around my laundry schedule, oh the perks of the in-state student. I could pack enough clothes from the get-go or run out and buy a last second pack of underwear to get me through the home stretch.

My system was foolproof. That is, until I went abroad. You should know though that this isn't 100% my lack of laundry prowess. I've done laundry before, it's really not that difficult. I'm just dealing with a combination of laziness, wanting to do other things while I'm here to take advantage of this new and exciting environment and a stupid, f-ed up Spanish/European laundry process that takes countless casualties.

Let me quickly run you through how the process is supposed to go, if it had gone smoothly. Normally, you throw your clothes in the washing machine, with your detergent, press a couple buttons and you're good to go. You take your clothes out, move them to the dryer, throw in a dryer sheet, press another button or two and voila, fresh clean and dry clothes in a couple hours.

Not in Spain though. Oh no. You see, Spain (along with a bunch of other countries around the world) pokes a couple holes in that American-style process that I've become so accustomed to.

For starters, washing machines here can probably fit about one of my sweatshirts. Also, forget the dryer. That's right, just completely erase from your mind half of what you thought you knew about the laundry process. It doesn't exist here.

  See what I'm dealing with? Photo by Max Siskind.

See what I'm dealing with? Photo by Max Siskind.

I thought I could do this, I really did. And in reality, looking back it wasn't that bad. I'm just overreacting as usual, but still. Anyway, I actually had schemed to send out another guinea pig before myself, because I knew I wouldn't be able to figure out the washing machine. Shouts to my roommate Alec for being that guinea pig.

Alec figured out the machine and I set out to do my laundry a couple days after him. Now here's where the problems started rolling in. It was at this point that I came to the cold hard reality that I would have to wash more than what I originally thought would be about two loads. That basically got doubled to 4. But the cycles were only 25 minutes, so no worries, right? If only I could turn the damn thing on. 

Now, it was very nice of my apartment building, who commonly rents to American study abroad students, to include English instructions on the machine. Seriously, I applaud them for this. It would have been better, though if those directions:

a) applied to the laundry machine we actually had and

b) could actually be read by human eyes.

I took the following photo of those directions and no, the photo isn't blurry, but the photos of the washing machine and its various buttons sure as hell are.

  Now this is just getting ridiculous...Photo by Max Siskind.

Now this is just getting ridiculous...Photo by Max Siskind.

This was all solved pretty easily though. A quick Facebook message to my roommate and I was well on my way to desperately needed clean clothes.

Then another harsh reality hit once all the wash cycles were done. It was time to conquer the dreaded clothesline. Even more tragic, I was sitting on 4 loads of clothes with clothesline space for about two t-shirts and only a handful of plastic clothespins. So, it was time to get creative. Look below at the two treacherous clotheslines I was working with. Also, enjoy the beautiful, scenic views from my Barcelona apartment.

I doubled up with some clothespins, squeezed some extra t-shirts on there, experimented with different angles of hangitude (TM), utilized the second, even scarier clothesline off of another window in our apartment and didn't even think about putting my socks out there on either one.

Still, even with all of my hard work and determination, it deeply saddens me to share with you all the loss of four great pairs of underwear. If only I got to say goodbye. Their elastic wasn't even worn out yet! But I'm strong, so I know I'll get through this.

  The black abyss where my underwear probably lies. Photo by Max Siskind.

The black abyss where my underwear probably lies. Photo by Max Siskind.

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, please learn from me. Try some of these tips:

1. Avoid the clothesline at all costs. Invest in a rack you can leave inside. Your underwear will thank you. But beware of the longer time it's going to take to dry your clothes inside vs. outside.

2. Get to know your neighbors below you. They might end up having said underwear and you might get it back if you weren't terrified of human contact.

3. Try not to wait until the last minute to do your laundry. Even if you're a procrastinator like me, try to do it once a week. Otherwise, your clothes will never dry by the time you actually need them, so be prepared.

4. Get some nice clothespins. These are your best defense if you absolutely have to use the clothesline.

5. Just say screw it, ball out and get a dryer. 

  Even after all was said and done, a sock was still left unmatched. I guess some things about doing laundry never change, regardless of what country you're in. Photo by Max Siskind.

Even after all was said and done, a sock was still left unmatched. I guess some things about doing laundry never change, regardless of what country you're in. Photo by Max Siskind.