THERE are people who choose to live in Phnom Penh without a car, people who choose to live without a motorbike and there are even people who choose to live without a water-heater in the shower (bizarre), but there are also those who choose to live without a washing machine.
If you choose to live without this modern feat of engineering, sooner or later you will be forced to take your clothes to a laundry and place your precious possessions in the hands of an unknown force.
Beware of low quality. In some laundries, your clothes will have the life scrubbed out of them by young girls wielding stiff brushes.
Poor-quality laundries also use the cheapest soap powders that drain colour from fabrics. They contain conditioners that leave strong, floral scents masking the smell of the stale water that was probably used to clean your clothes.
Your friends who use poor-quality laundries will soon start to appear in shapeless, battered-looking clothes and smell like a well-worn sofa that's been over-sprayed with air-freshener.
choose wisely, as a good-quality laundry ... is a life-enhancing blessing, indeed...
Why, oh why, would you sacrifice your clothes to such questionable establishments, for the wardrobe is the window to the soul (as the immortal Oscar Wilde once put it).
A high-quality laundry takes about the same time to wash and iron your clothes as a bad one, but when you burst open the plastic wrapper, a sweet, fresh smell wafts out.
You can expect your clothes to be neatly folded inside the plastic, so they are easy to store and, of course, they should show no signs of laundry-induced wear and tear.
Laundries are by definition used by transients and singles, as others usually have this aspect of their domestic arrangements under their direct control. For this reason, the quality of laundries in Phnom Penh is extremely variable.
Perhaps the worst laundries are those attached to hotels and guesthouses, as these are not based on high quality to attract repeat business. They are the most likely to cause bleach damage, as your clothes will often share the same buckets and bowls as the white sheets. Random underpants from foreign sources are also likely to be in a close proximity to your prized possessions at some stage of the process.
A true minimalist also appreciates that if you use a laundry, you have little or no use for wardrobes and drawers. You are either wearing your clothes or they are at the laundry!
A more pragmatic approach is to use laundries for the harder-to-wash items, like bed sheets or jeans.
There are also people who only use laundries for their underwear, not for any health and hygiene reasons but simply because they don't want to give their neighbours the chance to view their smalls while they're drying on the balcony.
Whatever your reason for using a laundry, choose wisely. A good-quality laundry, convenient to your home, is a life-enhancing blessing, indeed, but a poor quality one will leave you dressed as a beggar and smelling worse.
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