Friday, May 08, 2009

Laundry Wars Part I: Alison vs. playground sand

There seems to be a high percentage of clay in the sand at the playground. Rich clay, saturated with highly coloured particulate matter, hides amongst the sand grains and binds with foot sweat to create an instant and indelible brown stain on the bottoms of socks. It insinuates itself into small shoes and rainboots during play, and no sock is safe from its foul malevolence.

I have tried presoaking. I have tried stain-removing spray. I have tried bleach. Oh, how I have tried bleach. I've used enough bleach that the chlorine-y scent of those socks causes flashbacks to ogling jailbait at the community swimming pool. But I have failed.

(I would like to state at this point that I was going to take pictures of the socks, I had even posed them artfully against my white kitchen tiles, and then I realized that really, as interested as you all are in the minutiae of my life, no one wants to see pictures of my childrens' stained socks. If you are disappointed at this, please seek help. But I digress....)

First Battle of the Bleach - a mere skirmish

Add one cup of bleach to water in washer, set washer to warm, put stain-sprayed socks in washer, cross fingers. Stains laughed, flipped me the bird, and drove their jeeps back behind their own lines.

Second Battle of the Bleach - covert maneuvers

Add one and a half cups of bleach to water, set washer to hot, put stain-sprayed socks in washer, cross fingers. Stains took heavy losses, but regrouped, called in air support, and held onto their territory.

Third Battle of the Bleach - going nuclear

Put socks in bathroom wash basin. Add hot water and 2 cups of bleach. Leave soak for an entire afternoon. Stains have apparently mastered duck-and-cover and/or time travel to avoid giant bleach nuke. Although the blast force of the bleach totally faded out the colours of the socks, as soon as the fallout had cleared it was evident that the stains, like cockroaches, had survived the attack.


Why it didn't occur to me that lovely pastel pink, green, and pink-and-yellow-striped socks would be, I don't know, bleached out to sad, pale, blotchy versions of themselves, as if you'd tie-dyed ghosts, I'll never know. I was just so determined to get the stains out. So now my children are walking around in two-toned socks: whitish tops with brown bottoms.

I still love the smell of bleach in the morning, even if it doesn't smell like victory.


  1. Anonymous7:21 PM

    Daughters 2 and 3 are alumni of the very same playground. You ain't seen nothin' . . . Their older sister went to school a little further from home because French Immersion was not yet offered at Lord of the Flies Public :0) A school in a galaxy far, far away where the soil contained copious amounts of IRON!


  2. I am totally posting the pictures of The Boy's sock I am losing the battle... in fact it is lost. (Bleach scares me... it really does.)

  3. You are far more Martha than I am -- I don't even bother dealing with stained socks.

  4. I've never gotten much beyond a desultory squirt of spray and wash dual action on the bottom of each sock before tossing it in the wash. This doesn't work either, just in case you were wondering.

  5. Grace - I'm thinking that it is iron in the sand. I'm talking about the playground by the arena. Are you still in the area?

    Nat - I wonder if boys' socks are better or worse than girls' socks. Don't fear the bleach, embrace it. But only while wearing old clothes.

    Jen - I'd love not to deal with stained socks, but my girls can stain socks the first time they're worn. And I don't have a large sock budget. Now what we need is for someone to invent inexpensive single-wear biodegradable socks. They could come in a packet like kleenex and the kids would wear them for one day and then throw them in the compost bin. VoilĂ , always clean socks.

    Biblio - Is that the stuff with the two fluids that combine, that has the woman with the incredibly wide mouth on the commercial? If so, thanks for the heads up, because I was considering using it.

  6. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Moved to the big city almost four years ago to cut the commute but at the Market nearly every weekend! My butt is still frozen from being Canskate co-ordinator at that arena BEFORE the overhead heating went in. I worked/volunteered at the Nursery School for 11 years (my girls finished in 3 but I'm slow). Good memories. grace

    PS Our girls wore black socks (six packs from Zellers) for YEARS!

  7. Grace - Black socks *hits self in forehead* why didn't I think of that? I just got back from the market. We're there pretty much every Saturday too. Scored big at the Huntley used book sale in the Ag Hall.

    We didn't do the nursery school. I commute downtown and the hours didn't mesh well, so we did daycare.

  8. I was going to suggest black or brown socks, too. Or if you want to be extra-Martha, tie-dye your white socks when they get too stained.

  9. You know, I'd totally forgotten that I used to have that very same problem when we lived in Arizona. That darn clay was murder on playclothes. Thankfully, we don't have that problem in our new location. And, no, I never figured out a solution either...

  10. Oddly enough I found a photo of Second Born today, taken when he was about 9 months old, wearing my sunglasses (we ALL have photos of our babies wearing our sunglasses don't we?) He is also wearing yellow socks which are absolutely FILTHY on the soles, really disgusting. And he wasn't even walking at 9 months so I am at a loss to explain how that happened. I for one would therefore have been interested to see the photos of the socks. You know, for comparison purposes.

  11. XUP - yes, perhaps tie-dying them in shades of brown, grey and black.

    Jenn - It's so annoying, and some days just aren't warm enough for sandals, they need socks and shoes. The playclothes don't seem to take as bad a beating, it's mostly the socks.

    Loth - yes, I have the requisite baby in sunglasses photos somewhere. You're right, we all do. If I run out of things to do this evening, perhaps I'll photograph a stained sock collage and email it to you.

  12. whaaa? and i though socks, like diapers, were disposable.