Washing Clothes in Italy

Yesterday, I bought produce. Today, it was time to tackle doing a load of laundry.

I thought it would be simple. My host had shown me the order of operations already: First, select the setting I wanted. Then, select the temperature. Put soap in the dispenser, place clothes in the drum, close the door, and pull the handle to start the cycle. When finished, press the (un)lock button to open the door.

In other words, this is like doing laundry at home.

Except of course it wasn’t like doing laundry at home.

At home, I have the option for cold water and a gentle cycle. Here, I have neither. My cycle choices are:

  • Rinse with spin
  • Short spin
  • Rinse without spin
  • Drain (I think; the Italian word is “scarico,” which means “drain” but in context that doesn’t make much sense to me)

For temperature, the closest thing to cold I could get was warm. Cold does not seem to be an option.

My temperature options are:

  • White cottons with pre-wash 60-90 degrees C (140-194 F)
  • Colored cottons with pre-wash 40-60 degrees C (104-140 F)
  • Short cycle cotton 30-40 degrees C (86-104 F)
  • Synthetic with prewash 40-60 degrees C (104-140 F)

This one baffled me. How was there no cold water option? Should I wash my things in the sink? There’s no way Italians wash everything in the sink. If that were the case, there would be no washing machines.

I decided to go with the options that were as close to cold and delicate as I could get: short cycle cotton and short spin.

I put in my clothes. It’s a good thing I only had a few things to wash. The drum was just big enough to hold my two shirts, one pair of shorts, one pair of pants, two sets of socks, and two pairs of underwear. I maybe could have squeezed in one more shirt, but that’s about it.

I put in the clothes, put in the soap, pulled the knob, and waited for the action to begin.

After a few seconds, my clothes started to slowly spin. Then, they spun so fast they seemed to disappear. Calling the spin cycle a “centrifuge” was spot on.

This stop>spin slowly>spin super-fast cycle repeated for about fifteen minutes, and then stopped for good. That was it. That was the entire “wash” cycle. Except, there was no wash. No water entered the machine.

Why on earth would someone choose to spin their clothes around for a while without actual washing?

I tried again. This time I chose “rinse with spin” as my setting, and this time I got water!

About 15-20 minutes later, I had clean clothes that I hung on a drying rack so big it’s taking up most of the living room, which is hilarious when you consider how few clothes fit in the machine for a single load.

Doing laundry while in Italy: complete.

I still have no clue if I used an appropriate amount of laundry soap, but I’m calling this a win and going to bed.

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