Laundry ex opere operato is not a huge problem here. It doesn't bug me much and I don't often get egregiously behind.
But there's also something about laundry that makes me know I have not given myself over to it completely; namely, that the clothes don't get clean. Sure, there's some overloading of machines involved, and some inattention to major soilings whether at the "You cannot wear that one more day put it in your basket!!" stage or later on at the "It's all going in now and together and that's the end of it" moment of pragmatic triage. I superstitiously believe the washing machine will and must get things clean, though I know not how. If something comes out gummy or muddy, I throw it back into the dirty clothes heap like a madwoman. Dirty stuff goes in the laundry. Stuff that comes out of the laundry dirty goes in the laundry. Then at the end of the summer, I realize that my four year old no longer has a single clean shirt.
Even knowing this, I am lost. A sponsorless neophyte, I have amassed an arsenal of old timey powders and new fangled elixirs. They judge me from their shelves as I purposefully cram wadded boulders of clothing into the machine. But which of you am I supposed to be using right now? They never answer outright, but drip into my insecurity receptors cruel hisses like, All of us for different things, you imbecile! And why haven't you bought any Biz yet? Sssssssssssss!
My experimentation so far has yielded a few results. First, sunshine will take out yellow problems on the southern end of a baby garment but not the northern end (or much else. Sunshine gets way more credit than it deserves). Second, bleach expires. Third, the Shout stuff with the bristly applicator can buy some time for a garment nearing devotion to the ban on account of stank. Fourth, I cannot keep up with the nosebleeds around here and therefore all linens should be dark colors. Fifth, there is absolutely no telling which load had a fortifying scoop of Borax or Oxyclean or baking soda or chitin meal or nothing in it, because nothing works.
Somewhere deep in my brain is an inchoate vision. Through the fog, it looks something like another system, another rule, another basket . . . I can see humanoid forms tossing in their particularly troubled shirts . . . a larger humanoid picking up the basket and analyzing each piece, treating it with the tonic and therapy relevant to its ailment. Later, as she shakes out and folds each item, this large humanoid smiles, gratified at having achieved the level of huswifery which yields such a satisfyingly clean load of laundry; which saves disturbed clothes from ruination; at never having to say, "It's a perfectly fine shirt except for being completely disgusting." Yes, this would totally work, like all the systems and rules around here . . . .
But for now, my shoulders and front bear the marks of the baby of the house even before he begins the day's business, and the cuffs of Dad's tough guy pants are crusted as befits toughness, and my four year old wears at this and every moment a dirty shirt.