Washing away the domestic trouble

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You wouldn’t be without your washing machine. And how would you function without your dishwasher? Just think of your nails.

Yet in our house, domestic appliances are a continuing cause of domestics.

OK, it’s not so much the devices; I cannot sue Indesit should we end up in the divorce courts or bill Beko for marriage guidance.

If one of us ends up in hot water for battering t’other with an economy box of Persil, Hotpoint will not be held responsible. It’s the way we use these labour-saving white goods that turns things black.

We each have our own method. And I have concluded that the way you use your washer and dishwasher reveals a lot about long-ingrained personality creases and crinkles. You are the way you wash.

Boy (did I tell you he’s back?) is inherently lazy and a rule-breaker. But he also displays a deep faith that someone or thing will always get him out of any mess he gets himself into.

His method? You store up three weeks’ worth of dirty do-dahs in the biggest laundry bag you can find, then ram as much of it as you can into the machine in one go.

Sod over-loading. Separate whites from darks? Turn everything 50 shades of grey and you don’t need to bother.

At least 24 hours later, he returns to the machine, heaves out a wet, manky-smelling ball of tangled sleeves and socks and football togs. He untangles it, then stuffs the scrumpled-up damp things on all the radiators. His dishwasher method follows very similar lines.

He keeps dirty pots in his room until the 11th hour, then shoves into the dishwasher cups containing a skin of mould and plates bearing so many hardened gobs of tomato sauce, mustard and mayo they look like Picasso’s paint palettes.

Bloke does the dishes and laundry to the beat of a very different drum.

A military one. He’s a neat-freak, a puritan; so keen is he to dispense with the dirt, he’d stick the machines on half full if I let him.

Should I, the methodical, last-minute but organised economiser, dare to ‘assist’ by stuffing a couple of tea-towels in with the whites he’s just loaded, or spy a little gap for a few more plates and an extra cup in the dishwasher, he glares and flares.

I’m overloading the machine; it won’t work properly, apparently.

What rot. Things came out of the same machines perfectly clean when I was single.

To avoid marital discord I reload surreptitiously. Though I cannot show the same restraint when it comes to the clothes-drying.

He is the antithesis of Boy. Everything has to be smoothed, then folded perfectly in half across umpteen drying racks. Nothing is dry until it’s ‘as a bone’.

I have to go and undo all his handiwork. Heavy stuff? Radiators.

Everything else? Redraped so one side is longer than the other. “You have to let the air get in,” I hiss.

Maybe EastEnders’ launderette-lovers have the right idea. They’ve got so much to row about, dirty laundry would be the last straw.