Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cleaning the Washing Machine: The Importance of Self Care

The other day I was doing laundry and noticed that the clothes weren't really coming out smelling all that fresh. Instead of that lovely clean laundry smell, things were, well, a little funky. I recognized that it was time to wash the washing machine.

The first time I heard of cleaning the washing machine, it seemed a little counter-intuitive to me. How could it be dirty? It is constantly having soapy water and fresh rinse water cycling through it. How could it not be clean? However, the icky stuff that you are wanting to wash off of the clothing can settle into the hoses and suddenly things don't smell so fresh.

When I say clean the machine I'm not just talking about wiping down the surfaces you can see. I mean cleaning the insides as well. I have a top loading machine and I do this by filling it with hot water and then adding bleach and letting it cycle through.  You can then run a cycle of vinegar and hot water. There are lots of great tips on the Internet and of course check your owner's manual.

However, even though I knew this is part of washing machine maintenance, and I knew what to do to fix the problem,  I hesitated. I looked at the laundry mountain before me and thought, in the time it takes to clean this machine, I could have another load of laundry done. If I clean it now I'll be even further behind. I had to stop myself there. Continuing to wash laundry in a dirty machine wasn't really getting the job done. I might have gone through the motions of laundry, but my end result would not actually be clean, fresh clothes. In order to get the job done right, I first had to look after the machine.

Isn't that the way with us too? How many of us work hard, cycle after cycle, wanting to be the best for our families, friends, customers and so forth? Sometimes other people's crud can seep in and settle in our inner parts. That's why it is important to take care of ourselves. Self-care will look different for different people. It might mean reading, praying,  exercising or a long, hot, body and soul-cleansing soak in the tub. To borrow again from the washing machine metaphor,  when everything seems to be spinning out of control and you are getting agitated,  it's OK to take a step back and look after yourself.  You will be more refreshed and able to help others.

I have an original piece of art hanging in my bathroom. My daughter made it in grade 2 as a public service announcement for health class. While it is meant to encourage hygiene, it also serves as a reminder to slow down and look after myself too. I think it is pretty good advice. That's my two cents anyway. What about you? What do you do to recharge?

"Just Bath Yourself"

A penny for your thoughts?

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