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Laundry has always been an area of much contention, chez The Mom’s. There’s the simple fact that if you let The Mom do your laundry, it will come back shrunken and with strange marks on it. The Mom makes no promises, except that your laundry will be cleaner when it comes out than when it went in. And that it will probably come out covered in  dog hair.

But the process of doing laundry is not my current problem. My most pressing issue at the moment is soap. I am a delicate flower, with incredibly sensitive skin. Once, when The Mom bought new shampoo, when I was a teenager, I foolishly used it and ran screaming out of the shower because it was burning. Naked, with a full head of soapy hair. It was not pretty.

When I lived in Canada, I used the same laundry soap The Mom has always used. Some kind of fragrance, colour free stuff. I don’t know what it’s called, but I could recognize the box. It’s red. So when I moved to England, and discovered that this soap is not available, I had to make a very dangerous decision. I had to pick out a new laundry soap.

Obviously, this involved a long series of discussions with The Mom.

“Now,” I said. “What is the difference between bio and non bio?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about dear.”

“That is what the soap calls itself. Those are the options.”

“Why don’t you just try one?”

“Are you insane? That will not end well.”

“How else are you going to figure out which one you can tolerate?”

“I do not think that incurring the wrath of soap, colour and fragrance is something anybody here is ready to watch me go through.”

“You have a point. Don’t they have something without colour and perfume?”

“No, it’s bio and non bio.”

“I have no idea what that means.”

“Neither do I, why do you think I’m calling?”

On so on and so forth. I gave up, called L’il Sis and she suggested something called Ecover. It’s made for hippies, by hippies, and may have as its central cleaning ingredient, the tears of a unicorn.

So that’s what I’ve been using fo the past nine years. Except recently, I’ve noticed that actually, my clothes aren’t that clean. I take most of the really stained clothes home to The Mom’s for some industrial grade North American washing when I go, twice a year. But the thing is, I’m thinking that I might need to get things cleaner, more often.

When I lived in Glasgow, my flatmate and I would, monthly, do a load of underpants and socks on the ‘boil’ setting with our hippie soap. Because, and excuse me for being indelicate here, after a while the smell of crotch was just inescapable.

But this is not a permanent solution. My old flatmate’s husband recently put his foot down with the hippie soap thing. He insisted that they start using real soap. Because the hippie stuff isn’t getting anything clean.

So, sensing that The Mom would be of no use here, I took it upon myself to buy a new type of soap. It said it was for sensitive skin. It was purple. I used it. It smelled funny and as my laundry was drying in my room, the stench of it was burning my eyes. When I put on a clean shirt, I scratched my skin raw.

Now, Christmas is coming up and I’m considering asking The Mom to send me a box of laundry soap. It’s not a glamorous present, no, but the cost of shipping a box of it over to England is surely comparable to the amount she’d spend on my presents anyhow.

It’s that or I’m going to start sending my dirty clothes over on a monthly basis for intensive laundering.