Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Soap Opera

Where is your washing machine? Mine is in the kitchen.
Kirstie Allsopp has provoked an outcry recently by declaring that keeping it in the kitchen is disgusting. 'Why mix your poo, pee and period with food?' she says - and 'why mix toast, marmalade and butter with clean washing?' She claims her life's work is in part dedicated to getting washing machines out of the kitchen.
KA spent some of her childhood in the USA, where her parents followed the custom of keeping their machine elsewhere in the house [btw her Daddy is 6th Baron Hindlip, former chairman of Christie's Auction house] and she points out that the Brits are unusual in their habits - continentals put their machines in other places too...
Under the stairs, in the bathroom, in the downstairs loo, in the garage, hidden in cupboards in the bedroom or dining room...or in the Utility Room.
Personally I have no problem with mine being in the kitchen. In fact I like it there - it is close to the back door - so it's easy to carry the basket of laundry outside to the rotary dryer in the garden. It is close to the sink, so it is easier to transfer stuff which has had a pre-soak to the machine, or to do a quick rub and scrub on Bob's shirt collars. And of course, there is good access to plumbing.
The idea of carting a basket of wet washing from the bedroom down the stairs, or struggling outside to the garage in the middle of a hailstorm to wash my sheets does not appeal at all.
And if it is in the dining room - what happens if it goes into noisy spin cycle in the middle of your dinner party?
At Cornerstones we have a relatively small kitchen - and both the dishwasher and the washing machine are in the Futility Room [that's in the extension built by the previous owners]. But many people I know just do not have the space in any other room for a washing machine. Furthermore, the majority of British bathrooms do not have regular electric sockets. 
Is she right - is it really 'disgusting'? I know that the Romani people will not prepare food in the same sink as they have washed their hands or their clothes - and some even have two washing machines - for clothes from the upper and lower parts of the body.
By Kirstie's own logic, you couldn't site your machine in the loo, because then clean washing would be in close proximity to all those bodily fluids...
Maybe the answer is to schlep your sweaty socks round to the nearest Laundrette [we have at least three quite close to us here] I've used these in the past, in student days - and more recently I washed a duvet in one. I honestly have no idea what a regular wash costs in a Laundrette now. Should one wash one's dirty linen in public, anyway?
KA has backtracked a little now, saying it was all a joke and people over-reacted.
What do you think? Is it worth getting in a lather about?


  1. If she's mixing pee, poo, and period with food she's getting both laundry and cooking wrong!

  2. Australians are always appalled by this too. I blame it on their country being relatively young and affluent. I'm old enough (and not THAT old!) to remember growing up in a house without even hot running water. I'm just grateful that a washing machine is standard these days :-)

  3. Kirstie seems to have started a lot of rants on this one. I'm pleased to have a large garage which has half turned into a laundry room...but if I had to have the washing machine in the kitchen it would not bother me at all.

  4. Any publicity is better than none! I think that Kirsty needs to open her eyes to how the majority of us "commoners" live. I have a small utility room off the kitchen but the tumble dryer lives in the bathroom. Personally my laundry is poo, pee and period free, perhaps this is a matter of upbringing.

  5. In other countries maybe land is cheaper/houses are bigger ... I often see US blogs talking about 'the laundry room'. In my dreams! Frankly I'm just grateful, like Wanda, that I have a machine and hot and cold running water.

    The only other place I could imagine having it is in the bathroom, but not in this house - it's too small. We don't have electrical sockets in the bathroom for good reason, UK voltage is much higher than generally found in other countries.

    Kirsty Allsop has had a very privileged upbringing. I wonder if she's ever lived in a terraced house or a flat ...

  6. Although I agree with having laundry away from cooking it is not always practical, so much of our housing stock was built before plumbed in washing machines were standard, even postwar properties had a gas boiler in lieu of washing machines, prewar washing was sent out to laundries. I am reminded of Eve Garnett's The family from One End Street where Mrs Ruggles was a Washerwoman.

  7. It seems KA is in the minority, and most share my feeling that it isn't the end of the world to have washing in the kitchen.
    And YES to those above who have pointed out that we are truly blessed to have easy access to clean running water in our homes, both hot and cold. 663 MILLION people live without clean water, 2.4 BILLION live without access to adequate sanitation. One child dies every TWO minutes because of that. [figures from WaterAidUK] Why not make changing THAT your life's work, Ms Allsopp??

  8. Easy for her to coco!!Funnily enough, my son and daughter-in-law have just moved into a new build where the washing machine has been located in a cupboard under the stairs (all the relevant plumbing was put in place by the builders). Seems rather odd to me. When my father built his new house back in the late 70's my Mother was beside herself with glee that he'd provided her with a utility room. Honestly, you'd have thought she'd won the lottery but then she started off her married life using a heavy duty kitchen sink with a mangle! She then graduated to a twin-tub washing machine which took her the best part of a morning to accomplish any kind of wash!I don't mind my machine being in my kitchen but then I have no choice in the matter and the sky hasn't fallen in yet.

  9. G'day from Australia! I've just reread this post looking for the word 'laundry' as a proper room in a house - it's not there. In Australia most house have a laundry (room) that would the washing machine and quite often these days a tumble dryer. Next to the machine is a laundry sink. There is a cupboard or at least a shelf for detergents etc and hopefully there is space to set up the ironing board. In the past the laundry may have been set up in the garage or under the house with the old double concrete tub. It is not uncommon in Australia for houses to have a laundry chute from an upstairs bedroom or bathroom to the laundry downstairs.

  10. She's just trying to get some publicity it seems to me. In my childhood home, our washing machine was in the conservatory as there was plumbing out there but in our current bungalow, it is in the kitchen and I see nothing wrong with that-we don't drop our washing on the floor, it goes from basket to machine and we even hang our washing on an airer in the kitchen (if cooking something strong, we move it into the living room. Our houses are not vast like American ones and we don't have bags of room and frankly, she needs to do something more useful with her ranting energy and time.

  11. Hi Angela, here in NZ it is very unusual to have a washing machine in the kitchen. Almost every house has a small laundry with a tub and space for the machine and a dryer. Having said that I can't see anything wrong with it being in the kitchen. cheers from CArole's Chatter

  12. Thank you to Busy Pottering and Carole for their comments from down in the Antipodes! I am interested that you BOTH refer to the term 'laundry' - a separate room for washing machine etc. I guess that would be the equivalent of the 'utility room' built into many British houses in recent years. Like the Americans, you have more space available. I LOVE the idea of a chute from the bathroom so you can drop dirty linens straight into the laundry. But tell me, do the teenage boys in the household actually USE it? or do longsuffering parents still have to pick up sweaty socks from the bedroom floor ?

    1. Well... since you asked...our laundry chute is in our ensuite and after getting tired of the kids (son 14 and daughter 13) marching into our room with their dirties I placed a laundry basket in their bathroom. Daily I have to (sometimes calmly, sometimes not so calmly) remind both of them to put their dirties in there. It seems the laundry arrangements of our homes are all configured differently around the world, but our teenagers are all the same! Meg in Brisbane

  13. Most homes in Canada have a laundry area, some in the basement or utility room..almost never in the kitchen and sometimes in or near the bathroom. I think it would be most useful near the bedrooms, so when you change the sheets and linens and take off your dirty clothing, into the laundry it could go. Instead many of us schlep our laundry down to the basement and up again to be put away...Most of us seem to have dryers as well. 8 months of snowy, and/or rainy weather are not conducive to having laundry lines outside- although some do. I always thought that the British way of having a washer in the kitchen was due to the fact the many homes were built before indoor plumbing and putting it in one or two areas (bathrooms and kitchens) just made sense. Our kids were trained to use the hamper, and if it wasn't in there, it didn't get washed...Happy laundry day!

  14. In my experience, few British homes seem to have basements. But more are being built with utility rooms. I am fortunate to have an outside rotary dryer - cheaper than using an indoor electric one, but I can see your point about Canadian weather...


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