Monday, September 09, 2013

My mysterious washing machine

It's been a week since our housekeeper left, so I'm getting re-acquainted with our washing machine. All at once I'm reminded of what a mystery that thing was when we first moved in. And I was lucky to have had experience with Euro washers before, in Russia, Syria, and Jordan! Over the last three years, I've helped a few neighbors figure the thing out (we all have the same one) since it a) is counterintuitive; and b) only comes with instructions in Italian.

Imagine you've moved into a new house, and you go check out the washer, and it looks like this:

Take a closer look at the main instrument panels and see if you think you could figure it out, at the risk of ruining your clothing or flooding the laundry room if you make a mistake:

The key to figuring out this washing machine ends up being that the 0 - 180 labels on that central dial do not refer to water temperature. Instead, they refer to minutes of drying time, if you choose the dryer setting. Which one is the dryer setting, you ask? Well, #17, asciugatura, of course!

Since I never use the dryer setting on our washer (it is horribly time-inefficient, as you can probably tell by the fact that it includes a 3-hour timed setting. It would also be ridiculous to use the dryer setting when you live in a climate like this one, especially considering that it absolutely bakes the clothes. They come out damp and steamy, eww), I never turn this dial.

Instead, I focus on the list of available wash cycles on the far left, numbered 1-19. After three years, I've figured out most of them. You've got your cotton cycles at different temperatures, your synthetics cycles at different temperatures, and the same for wool (thank you, yes, well I did take Spanish in seventh grade!). Cycle 13 is the cold cycle for delicates, and 15-19 are for other cold washes or drying or spinning or rinsing only.

You'll notice I skipped cycle 14. That's because I didn't notice it until the other day. A friend of mine mentioned that she had a quick wash cycle on her Euro washer, which was intriguing to me because you guys, a regular cycle on this thing takes at least two hours, sometimes more like three. Pretty much, I can manage one load of laundry a day and that's it.

But I'm pretty sure cycle 14 is a quick wash - rapido, right?? I tried it out and it takes about 40 minutes instead of 2+ hours, so yeah, that was a great discovery.

Those two buttons to the right of the start button - I have no idea what they do. I think one might be a setting for a small load, and maybe one is for...I don't know. I just leave them alone and so far, everything has turned out fine.

I realize this was a long post about a washing machine, but sometimes people in the US don't believe me when I tell them my washer takes 3 hours to run a cycle, or that I effectively don't have a dryer, or that this thing is seriously tiny. It's all true, folks. And as a result, laundry is almost always on the back of my mind, since if I haven't started a load that day, I need to; if I haven't hung it out, I need to; if I haven't taken it in by nightfall, I need to; etc. It never goes away. But at least I know how to work the machine.


elliespen said...

Oh, man. This reminds me of trying to figure out our embassy-issued oven in Santiago. I'm still surprised we didn't blow the house up trying to figure out the precise way to light it after turning on the gas. (Example: There was a button —NOT the ignition button—that was big and red with a picture of an explosion next to it. I swear I'm not making this up.) Wacky fun.

My washer here in the States is very efficient, but my dryer is on the fritz and takes For. E. Ver. to finish drying a load (at least two cycles, every time) so I know what you mean about only being able to do one or two loads a day and the subsequent Laundry Dread that builds up.

Jenn Ridgeway said...

Ok, this is hilariously familiar, as I've also lived with an Italian washer (in Italy). Basically, on day one I sat down with the manual and typed the entire thing into Google translate, which is how I discovered Google translate kinda sucks. I eventually learned to do everything on cold rapido, so I could get more than one load done per day. Ours didn't have th asciugamano option. I would've killed for steamy baked clothes in the winter when drying outside just froze everything stiff. Can't help you with those two buttons on the side--water level or time delay? Single item vs super full loads? Maybe Sarah Famiglia can help.

Crys said...

OH my gosh! This is the moment when I realize I can never live overseas! Do you know how often I have my washer going. With your washer I'd have to have it running, every day, all my waking hours to keep up with my clothes mangling minions! And no dryer? I hang some of my laundry but if I had to hang all of it I'd be in so much trouble! Is is possible to send laundry out? Is it cost effective :-/

Najla said...

hahaha, this post is SO funny for people that is used to this kind of washing machines (in spanish not italian!). The mysterious buttons: half load and extra rinse :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Your washer is way to mysteriously detailed. But in its huge favor, it does not shock you when you reach in to remove wet clothing!

Sarah Familia said...

Haha, yes, one of the very few things I do NOT miss about living in Italy.

Bridget said...

Woah, so basically no one knows how to use these things??

Half load and extra rinse, got it!

Anna said...

This is the cool thing about living abroad. Even the laundry is an adventure.

Shannon said...

I hear you, sister. Mine is just as incomprehensible, although, surprisingly, it was manufactured in Great Briton. It was apparently destined to be marketed in the Shire--as in, the hobbits' Shire (judging from the size of its wash barrel). Its instructions are in runes that are completely indecipherable to a human. And, what the heck? It has 17 cycle options? Whyyyyyy? Why do people need more than 4 (tops!) cycles? I just stick to cycle #2 for everything and don't bother with the temperature gauge either. Because my water tank is on the roof, every load is a hot-water load. You know what I'm sayin'?


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