You might not have actually done it, but I believe the situation is so familiar that you all can relate anyway. The red sock in the otherwise white laundry. Everybody knows what happens – all the white clothes turn a bubblegum shade of pink. Well, imagine it wasn’t just a sock, imagine it was a dress. Oh, the agony. Let my tale unroll…
I bought a red dress. It is a lovely dress – I feel great wearing it, and the dress as a dress is not an issue at all. I love it, and I will come back to whether or not I love it enough to feel that this was worth it.
The first time I wore the dress I spent many hours outdoors. At the end of the day, I was more sunburned than I’d realized – and oddly enough it seemed as though the sun had affected me more in areas that I’d thought was covered. “Seemed” is the keyword in that sentence. When I got home and washed off the dust and sweat after having explored Washington, D.C. in 30 or so degrees (Celsius – meaning “horrid” in Fahrenheit, according to my personal converting system ), the washcloth (the spotless, white washcloth) turned pink. It wasn’t the sun after all; it was the result of a colourful dress worn in extreme humidity.
The washcloth looked beyond repair, and as it is not my washcloth – it belongs to the family I live with – I was not too happy about it, but I figured that I might give it a wash before I gave up on it. Plus, white can be bleached. Worst case scenario – I owed them a washcloth. I could live with it.
After a few days I wore the dress again. This time I wore it with a white (…) tank top and white tights under. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Naturally, when I got home, I was wearing partially pink tank top and tights… (I looked like a bubblegum giraffe.) Again, the whites look beyond repair (but at least this time only my own items got affected, I thought).
Until I decided to try to wash them.
For some reason I decided to try hand wash.
First, I washed the whites. I might as well have stuck out my tongue and licked them – none of the red/pink came off. Fine, one go in the washing machine before I try bleach, I thought to myself. Not tonight though. No, this was Amish-night – hand wash was the deal.
Then I decided to also wash the dress.
Not surprisingly, the washing water (and the basin, I’m afraid) was pretty red. I washed it over and over and over again. Still red. (How much colour can there be in one dress?) Again and again, but the water was as red as ever. Finally, I started to worry that I’d probably spent the water supply of an entire African village for a year trying to get the excess dye out of the dress. So I decided to give up, and instead try the washing machine on the dress as well. However, it was getting late and I was in no mood to do more laundry, so I hung the dress over the bathtub to let it dry (Amish all over the place).
Only it didn’t dry (HING humidity! For an entertaining – yet truthful – etymology of the word hing, that surely will be used again in this blog, follow this link). It dripped. Red water. Onto a white towel I had hung under (also to dry – hahahaha), and from there, onto the white rug on the floor. To top it I also noticed that I had managed to wipe my hands on another towel after having washed the dress – transferring the dye to this (also white) towel as well.
In the process of using and washing this dress for the first time, I have ruined a washcloth, a tank top, a pair of tights, two towels and a rug. Plus potentially the bathtub and the bathroom sink. I can now truly say I know how it feels to discover the red sock in the white wash.
(I still love the dress, and I remain hopeful that we will reconcile once sufficiently colour has washed off so that I can use it without fear of pinkifying the world.)