Day 828: The Elaborate Conspiracy Behind Laundry Symbols

originally published April 7, 2014

As part of my public service hours after my arrest last weekend at that Costco restaurant for soaking my elbows in the relish bins (and in my defense, I have dry skin and that relish is incredibly soothing), I want to talk a little bit about laundry. Most of us are not fortunate enough to employ a fleet of garment de-crudification engineers to keep our clothes glistening, so it’s important that we approach the chore with some savvy.

To begin, we’ll need agree on an important core concept, one which should establish the parameters of our cloth-centric task while focusing our attitude to confront the challenge appropriately:

Your clothing hates you.

It’s true. Your vibrant colors fade, your natural fibers compress their rage into pouty little pit-stains and your socks are frequently fleeing your grasp, lunging triumphantly to sweet, sweet freedom – always one at a time. You must accept this. Only then can you approach the act of laundry as a semi-competitive clash of wills, like when Columbo would pop in on a suspect for “just a few more questions.” Always maintain control of the laundry discussion or your clothes will win.

Fortunately we have laundry symbols on our side. These little pictograms will tell us the best way to care for our clothing, to ensure we wash them, dry them, or soak them in the chemical brine that will best uphold their integrity.

Unless it’s all a lie.

The current standard of laundry care symbols was established by a mysterious international organization calling themselves GINETEX, no doubt headquartered in an underground lair somewhere in the south of France. This cabal of textile corporate-types met in secrecy for a series of discreet summits in the late 1950’s, eventually announcing in 1963 what our laundry symbols are to mean. Who are these people? Has anyone looked into their background? Do we know what they’re really after?

After doing absolutely no research and vetting this question through the clarifying lenses of four independent beer products, I can find no evidence that GINETEX is not a conspiracy of the elite, seeking to enslave our children and drain our wallets. I will leave any further peeling of this onion to someone more bold, more resourceful and with less to lose. I may have said too much already. Forget it, let’s humor them and look at the silly symbols they insist we obey:

Ah yes, Dry Clean Only. This is a get-out-of-laundry-free card, right? A passport to drop this garment at some third-party store of magic where they’ll use whatever elf-dust they have to render it stain-free and ready to wear. Come on, people – this is the oldest scam in the GINETEX arsenal. They want you to drop it off at a drycleaners because then THEY CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS TO IT! If they want to treat with something that will decompose the sleeve seam over the course of 18 months, they can do it. If they want to do a little recon by depositing microscopic DNA absorption proteins into your pants crotch, they’ll do it.

This symbol may appear to be a combination hug and kiss from GINETEX, but in fact it means that you should not ever bring this to a drycleaner. Why would they do this? Why trust us with the means of cleaning? Simple: it’s a far more devious conspiracy when they can enlist us to do the destructive work by our own hands.

Think about it. If we can deduce that GINETEX’s end-game is to gradually destroy our clothing, thus maintaining the health and well-being of the textile industry, all while secretively gathering information about us for the shady purposes of future organ-harvesting, we have to assume they are one step ahead of us. Of course they want us to do the cleaning – they know that we won’t stand for the inconvenience of hauling our soiled goods to a mini-mall every weekend. Also… chemtrails. I don’t know how chemtrails fit in, but GINETEX is probably responsible for those too.

Anyway, moving on…

The temperature symbols. The more dots on the symbol the hotter the water in which you are to wash the item. If you have six dots, you’d best clean the thing by submerging it into the molten core at the center of the earth.

You might miss this next symbol if you aren’t paying close attention:

That line underneath indicates the Permanent Press setting is to be followed. These fabrics retain more moisture and are supposed to be wrinkle-resistant. I’d be very suspicious of any item of clothing with a  Permanent Press indication. They have no doubt been treated with some sort of water-activated tracking spray, hence their need for the extra spritz of moisture during the spin cycle at this setting. GINETEX wants to keep tabs on you; it’s the only explanation. Even the name is a giveaway: Permanent Press, perpetually broadcasting your whereabouts to their team of trained tracking-weevils.

It all goes into the file, one way or another.

Ah yes, the gentle cycle. It’s best to use the utmost care when handling these garments, even while moving them in and out of the machine. Use a special set of padded tongs, and make sure you speak only in low, soft tones while transporting these items. Their longevity can also be maintained through playing some light rock music while they’re being washed. I recommend some Bread, maybe some America, or even some pre-Joe Walsh Eagles.

Anything with a  triangle refers to the presence of bleach in the laundry cycle. Personally, I only bleach my dogs’ laundry or perhaps some bed linen if I’d recently used it to transport a dead body. Even then, I bleach only if it’s a high thread-count, otherwise I just toss the stuff. Don’t worry about bleach.

Tumble-dry, but with no heat. You can also achieve the same results by sitting in your living room and tossing the item up in the air for an hour or so, but who has the time for that?

This either signifies that you should tumble-dry at a low heat, or that you should put on a CD while you do it. I guess it’s up to you.

Line-dry this item. Hang it on a clothesline. You don’t have a clothesline? Hang it on your neighbor’s. Does your neighbor already have a grudge against you for that time you fed oatmeal to his tropical fish? Hang it on an overhead power cable, a high fence, or a slow-moving animal such as a cow.

This means drip-dry. There’s probably a difference between line-drying and drip drying, but it won’t make sense, I can promise you that.

This indicates you should dry the item flat. For best results, use a level to ensure a perfectly horizontal plane.

Line-dry in the shade. Come on, if you had the time to string up your laundry line in a different way for each item of clothing you could probably get a part-time job in order to pay someone else to do your laundry for you.

Just make sure you check them out first. You don’t want a GINETEX sleeper cell fondling your underthings. They’ll get to you eventually, but don’t make it easy for them.

Best of luck. And if they get to me (as I’m certain they will), spread my message!

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