The Australian House by David Rabbitborough

The Laundry

The Laundry is one of the last great wildernesses in the home, renowned for its spectacular Whirlpools and Kelvinators. Here we suddenly become aware of hearing a primitive language: Silvo, Brasso, Rinso, Omo, Sabco. We find objects inscribed with the names of famous mythical beings: Mr Sheen, Mrs Brite, Martha Gardner. Who they were and what they did may never been known, but they almost certainly connected with the sacred ritual of washing. For the Laundry is the home of that most terrifying household god: the Dirty Clothes Basket.

Suburbanites believe that the Dirty Clothes basket must be offered up a daily sacrifice of garments. As soon as any garment is worn, even for two minutes it is deemed to be impure of the wearer and must be cast into the Dirty Clothes Basket to be cleansed by torture. Each garment is thrown into a tub, soaked with boiling water then twisted, wrenched back and forth and finally crushed with centrifugal force. It is then rolled endlessly in a kind of oven called a tumble drier for hours before finally being thrown a flat board to be seared by the Iron, a machine designed to spurt hot rusty water onto fabrics. The suburbanites believe that purifying their clothes washes away their own misdeeds, and indeed sometimes it does.

Sometimes, when they have nothing left in the cupboard , desperate individuals will dig down into the Dirty Clothes Basket to retrieve garments. Such individuals suffer terrible guilt as a consequence and go through the whole day certain that others know what they have done.

Above: icons of gods with names like dialogue from old Tarzan movies..
The Iron, an medieval torture instrument for clothes..

The washing basket: for the ablution of sins.

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