Saturday, July 23, 2011

High Pressure Laundry

“No good deed goes unpunished.” - Claire Booth Luce

So the regular robe washer at the church goes on vacation this time of year. Used to be, her substitute would have to do the robes for two months and then the regular lady would be back. Well, last year I mentioned something about the cleanliness of the robes and was quickly put on the sub list with the other lady. Somehow I dodged the bullet last year and did not actually have to wash the robes. I only hung them up and such after the service.


This was my first week on my four-week stint as substitute robe washer, and, wouldn’t you know it, they needed washed. The acolyte robes probably always need washed, and the Pastor’s robe had discernable unfreshness.

“Just put them in the washing machine, maybe with a little bleach,” I was told last year.

But then I got back there, and saw the rope belt was also a bit non-white, and the multi-colored stole (which I would later find out is also called a vestment on Google) had seen cleaner days. My instructions didn’t include these items, but I’m a washer of dirty clothes no matter who they belong to.

I put the belt in a laundry bag, safety pinned all the Velcro together on the robes, and threw them in. Bleach, Biz, and soap. No dirt particle was safe.

“Just take them out of the dryer. They hardly ever need to be ironed,” she’d said.

I took them out of the dryer promptly just before the end of the heat cycle. They looked like I’d wadded up a piece of newspaper and then tried to flatten it out with my hands. Thank goodness I hadn’t done that since they were as white as they were ever going to get thanks to all my laundry products. I was aghast, as I hung up my iron and can of spray starch when I left the working world. I threw them all on hangers and waited for a miracle.

In the meantime, I decided to tackle the stole. Like I said, it was many colored and appeared to be woven. No tags. Probably hand-made. So I took what I thought was the safe route and put it in the sink with a little soap and some cold water. I draped it very slowly in the sink, watching carefully for any sign of fading or colors bleeding. And of course, wouldn’t you know that the very last blocks that entered the cold water bled like a head wound onto one another.

Grey fish on lavender backgrounds are no longer my friends.

I quickly removed the stole from the water and blotted it with a kitchen towel, willing away the travesty that was occurring on the lavender background. That fish was bleeding like a stuck pig. I rinse it some more at a different angle, trying to get the dye to run off the side and not onto the background. I hit it with hot water trying to stop the madness!!

Finally, I gave up and took it out and hung it on the line. When I brought it back in, my fish nemesis had a serious case of five o’clock shadow caused by all the bleeding. It was terribly noticeable. In essence, I ruined the Pastor’s stole.

I spent the rest of the evening Googling “woven Pastor stoles” and that’s where I came across the term “vestment”. Just an FYI, in case you’re ever looking. There are some fancy ones out there! But none like the one I currently had in my possession.

The next day, after hours of ironing and starching, I took the robes back up to church and intended to confess to the Pastor on the demise of his stole, but he’s on vacation this week! A break in my luck, I’d say… Anyway, our church secretary was there and I showed her the stole.

“I figure it’s from Guatemala, and the mission team brought it back for him, and it was made by some poor woman in a third-world country…”

“Who was blind,” she said.

“Oh, no! Was she???” I said

“I don’t know,” she said. “But that would be your luck!”

She wasn’t helping.

She mentioned a product I might try as a last-ditch effort, and that sent me back to the laundry aisle of the grocery store. The product she mentioned kept saying “remove” and “removal” when referring to color and I didn’t think bleaching it out was quite what I was looking for.

I did remember though that I’d had some pretty good luck with some pretty nasty stains with the Tide Pen.

I took the pen and the stole and several other spontaneous laundry products home, and gave the fish section the scrubbing of its life with the Tide Pen. Then, I rinsed it, and did it again. In my opinion, it was looking a lot better, but I still wasn’t sure.

I stuck it out on the clothesline, determined to place it in such a way that the sun’s rays would surely fade away any evidence of the colors running into one another.

And guess what?

It worked!

Now I really don’t think the untrained eye would be able to tell where the horrible bleeding of the fish occurred. Especially not from a few feet away.

And, you know, this was just my luck! It seems that if something like this can happen, then it happens to me. Perhaps I’m haphazard when it comes to laundry. Maybe I’m careless in knowing my fabrics. Or maybe I’m just the best one for it to happen to because I can live with a lifetime of teasing, poking, and prodding over my killing the Pastor’s stole. Everyone has a gift, and I have thick skin and broad shoulders! And I tend to get a laugh instead of a cry over such things.

Now come on July 2012 when the mission team goes back to Guatemala where hopefully they’ll be able to find the same woman at the open-air market where they bought the previous one SIX years ago!

Was I the first to wash it??

I’m not sure I want to think about that…


  1. Hilarious! I'm a new follower! This sort of thing happens to me ALL the time, I'm NOT kidding, so I sympathize as I laugh along!!

  2. You know the funny thing is, the Pastor didn't even notice!!


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