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Monday, March 24, 2014

When Are Clothes Really Clean Enough?......My Exhausting Laundry Routines!

One of my most time consuming and biggest issues right now is making sure the laundry is very clean.  I am having such a huge problem with it right now that I literally have gone into a rage at times I get so angry.  It is so frustrating to me.  I am really worrried that this could potentially be the obsession that drives me toward a homebound state.  Right now I still function fairly normal to the outside world.  I am a wife, and a mother.  I work part time, many of those hours from home.  I am able to go out and about in public as long as I can control where I sit in public (for example at church I need to sit in the very back row on the end).  If I go shopping I am just mindful of who I am around at the store and whose line I go through....those types of things.  I have thrown away so many loads of laundry and individual pieces of clothing over the last 6 months, it is getting crazy.  If something happens to an item of clothing I will definitely throw it out.  Especially if I feel it would be cheaper to just replace the garment than to go through a rigourous routine of washing several cycles, and then at the end not really feeling like it still clean.
         I would guess that most non-OCD sufferers sort their clothes by color and throw them in the wash for a single cycle...and boom, that load is done.  Not so much how it works around here.  Since I did not have OCD as a child, I never worried or obsessed about the cleanliness of my clothing.  My mom washed my clothes, then I learned how as I got older.  We just threw it in the wash, and never gave it a second thought that they were not clean when they came out.  I lived in an apartment after I graduated from nursing school, and they had a community washer at the end of the hall.  I remember using that often, although sometimes I would still take my laundry to my parents house and do it there.  I was also working in a hospital nursery at this time and we were required to wear scrubs there.  Each shift we would change into the hospital scrubs, then wear our regular clothes home.  After I got married, then my husband's laundry came into the picture too.  I never thought of his clothes as "dirty" back then, even though he hunted.  A lot of times his dirty clothes would be sitting in a big pile in our closet, and mine would get mixed in with them.  I never worried about it.  Then our daughter came along and I don't remember having issues then either.....but my OCD really had not started yet.  I have become mindful through the years, but I would say in the last 9 months or so my day really revolves around doing laundry.  I can't figure out what set this off for sure, but I do remember that I started to not like people touching me...and if they touched my clothes then the clothes would be contaminated.  Little kids really tend to be a trigger for anymore, and I remember a couple of instances last summer when a child had touched either my daughter or my clothes.  I bought my daughter a new red T-shirt for The 4th of July, and some of our neighbors with kids walked over and the little boys were playing with her and their hands touched her shirt and that really bothered me.  I knew I did not want that shirt tumbling around with the rest of the clothing in the washer and contaminating all of it, so I just tossed it aside in the closet and finally a few weeks ago threw it out completely.  In another post I mentioned one of my coworkers sneezed (a huge, wet sneeze) into her hand then came over and put her hand on me to tell me something, and touched my brand new scrub top flat out with the palm of her hand that she just sneezed into  Gross--that got thrown out.  A couple of days later that same nurse touched my fleece jacket at a meeting, and of course I lost trust in her after the first time so I threw the jacket out too.  We were at a birthday party over the summer and my niece was clinging onto my clothes and I threw that outfit out too because all I could imagine were all the germs all over her hands (because she is sick frequently at her age) and I knew I would never be able to wear those again.  We were at church last week and I was in a fairly new pair of jeans (had only worn them a couple of times) and my  husbands coat brushed up against my jeans when he was taking it off.  Jeans--thrown out.  My husband is contaminated to me and I knew I couldn't "restore" those jeans back to a place I felt comfortable wearing them again.  I was in his room the other day getting his clothes ready to put in the washer, and I was wearing gloves...because I will not handle his dirty clothes with my bare hands.  A pair of long underwear that he wears out to hunt in sometimes fell off the bed and onto my shoe and I'm not sure if it grazed the bottom of my pajama pants leg, but I couldn't deal with the what-ifs.  I took the PJ pants off and threw them out.  Then ended up going directly to the store to buy a replacement pair (thankfully they still had a similar pair there), and wouldn't you know my car battery dies in the Target parking lot.  I called my dad who lives 5 minutes away from Target and he came to my daughter and I's rescue and came and jump started my car and followed us home.  When we got back to our house he came in to see our new puppy (which is another area I'm really having problems in related to the OCD) and he was commenting on how someone he knows has a big labrador  who came and basically put their paws on his shoulders and knocked him over.  He was demonstrating what this dog did to him, so he came over and took the palms of his hands and pushed them hard into my shoulders.  I was wearing my winter coat...which will now be thrown away.  My dad was working with rusty jumper cables and was touching the engines of my car and his car and then touched my coat.  I will not wear that coat again.  Oddly enough I had to replace my winter coat about three months ago because we were at a concert at school for my daughter and something happened to both of our coats that day so I had to replace them both.  First of all she was taking her coat off to go get ready for the concert and I don't know what I was doing but didn't notice or she might have been trying to get my attention and I was busy talking to someone next to me, but my husband took her coat from her and handed it to me.  If he touches something, it gets thrown out.  Then my father in law came over and was patting me on the arm with my coat on, so my coat got thrown out too.  My father in law does the same hobbies as my husband...a lot of farm work, tractor restoration, painting, working with things in a shed, and both of their hands completely bother me.  I would not wear any of that stuff again.  Today my dog threw up in her bed twice and then came and licked my pants.  I can not take the chance that there is dog vomit on my pants, and even if I washed those things in a sanitary wash cycle over and over again, I do not think I would feel comfortable wearing them.  These are just some examples of how my clothing gets "contaminated" and has to be thrown out.  So I don't really go out and buy net outfits or anything, I just try to buy basic, inexpensive clothes because things happen to them often.
  Next comes my regular laundry.   When I sort my laundry, it is sorted by the following loads:
1.  Sleep pants for my daughter and I, along with my T-shirts.
2.  My daughters T-shirts
3.  My daughter and my  jeans, and my work scrub pants.
4.  My sweatshirts
4.  My underwear
5.  My daughters underwear
6.  My daughter and my socks
7.  Bath towels
8.  Sheets
9.  Bathmats
10.  Any new clothes
11.  Very dirty clothes that we have worn out and about
12.  My husbands regular clothes
13.  My husbands jeans and sweatshirts
14.  My husbands bath towels

Here is my explanation for why I do loads this way, based on the #'s above.  I don't mind washing most of my daughter and my stuff together with the exception of shirts and underwear, and I will explain why below.
1.  Sleep pants are pretty clean.  After all we take our showers at night so the only time we really wear these is on the couch or around the house or to go to bed.  I feel they are pretty clean anyway.  Only wear them once though and they go in the hamper.  My T-shirts go in with this pile for now, although that will probably change this summer.  Right now during the winter if I go out and about my shirts are protected by my coat, so I feel my shirts are pretty clean, so feel okay putting them in with this load.
2.  My daughters T-shirts, sweaters that she wears to school get a load by themself.  Partly because of all the germs that there are in an elementary school and sitting on chairs all day and lunch benches.  Plus if she sneezes or coughs into her sleeve, then they all just get washed together.
3.  Jeans and scrub pants are definitely outside leave the house clothes.  I feel that everything is dirty between going out in public, sitting in chairs, being at school, or sitting in my desk at work.  So all of these kind of share a load together.
4 and 5.  Both of our underwear are washed separately for reasons that I don't feel are necessary to explain.  Self explanatory.
6.  Socks are all washed together because socks touch the floor and I don't want them in with other laundry/clothes.
7.  Bath towels gets a sanitary wash cycle.  I have one bath towel every day for my daughter and I.  14 towels/week.  That basically fills up the washer anyway.
8.  Sheets--they get a sanitary cycle too, but I don't want to wash them with bath towels because you think if what if mites or something happen to be in the bed sheets?  I just prefer to wash everything separately.
9.  Bathmats--these get washed separately too, because basically they sit on the floor all the time and wet feet walk all over them.  Don't need to be mixed with anything else.
10.  New clothes get washed separately from everything else, for obvious reasons.  Think of all the people that try them on at the store and how much they get handled from the manufacturing process until the time they get in your door at home.
11.  An example of this would be if we went to someone else's house and were sitting on their couch.  I've had an increasingly hard time with this, when sitting somewhere not in my own home.  I would probably take these loads and possibly do a sanitary cycle, or at least a few regular washes before I felt they were clean.  I would not want to mix them together with other clothing.  I have even considered having one outfit that is worn out and about, but I have not gotten to that point.
12-14.  I do my husbands laundry completely separately from ours.  More about this later.  I also run 7 wash empty wash cycles between his laundry and ours.  More on this later.

Now when I wash clothing I don't just wash it once.  For the last few months I have gotten worse and was washing many loads 3 times before I would consider them clean enough to come out.  I've really been trying to work at this and get it down to 2 washes for most things.  For loads 1-4 above I will generally do a "quickwash cycle" which runs about 20 minutes, followed by a "normal deep clean cycle" which runs about 1 hour.  Both of these are with hot water.  Then I have to rinse them a few times extra because sometimes so much detergent is in the clothes that it takes awhile to get it out.  So a standard load of laundry takes about 2 hours, maybe a little more.
For loads 4-8, all of these involve a sanitary cycle.  So I will do a "quickwash cycle", followed by a "sanitary cycle".  The sanitary cycle takes anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours depending on how many items are in there. Plus once again I have to rinse several times until the water runs very clear and I can't see any soap suds.  Bath towels take so long to rinse because they are so absorbent.  It usually takes about 1.5-2 hours for the bath towels to rinse, so bath towels take about 5-5.5 hours total, which is a really long time.  For load # 9 these are washed on delicate which unfortunately the hottest that cycle gets is warm water, but they are rugs with rubber like backing, so they would melt if put any hotter.  I usually run these through 2-3 times once/week  For load # 10, anything new that comes home automatically gets washed through 3 cycles.  2 "normal deep clean" cycles and a "quickwash".  Since they are new clothes, detergent hasn't had a chance to get caked into the clothing yet, so they generally may only require 1-2 extra rinses at the end.
My husband gets all of his laundry done separately.
It may seem like I do a lot of laundry, enough to keep the washer busy all day, every day and that is certainly true.  But the hardest parts about my laundry routine are the 2 following things:  I have an obsession with indoor plumbing, which you can read about in a previous post.  Toilets can not flush while the washer is going.  We also have 2 out of 3 toilets in our house that will start running when the washer drains, so I turn off the water supply to those 2 toilets before I start my laundry for the day.  My husband does not know that I do this every time.  He knows that we leave the basement toilet off, but he does not realize that I turn off his toilet in the master bathroom every single day.  A few days ago I told him that sometimes I turn it off, and he said not to do this because it is not meant to be turned more than once ever (when initially turned on) and he was afraid we would get water all over our bathroom sometime when the crank broke.  Well, there is no way I can do my laundry with the toilet flushing each time the washer goes into the drain part of the cycle.  All I can imagine is toilet water flowing into the washing machine getting all over the clothes.  So because I hide this from him I basically have to do all of my laundry during the week when he is at work.  I do his laundry on the weekend, that way in case he is home it's easier because I don't have to turn off the toilets when I do his laundry.  During the week though  this gets tricky at times, because if he comes home unexpectedly and I have a load of wash going, I will just stop the washer, run into the bathroom to turn his toilet on (so he doesn't know it was ever turned off), then my load is considered "ruined" at that time, because I am afraid once I turn the water supply on to the toilet and it starts flushing, my laundry is contaminated.  So I have to be real careful.  This is also part of the reason I am trying to go from 3 to 2 washes per load because I get loads done faster and there is less of a chance of him coming home during a load if I can get them done faster.  I also have to wash out the washer each day before I use it with a "quickwash" hot water cycle, which takes 10 minutes if I do the very quickest setting.  Basically it just tosses detergent around, rinses a couple of times, then I feel the machine is clean enough to start my laundry for the day.  So basically most days during the week, this is my routine:  As soon as my husband leaves for work I go downstairs to make sure the toilet is still turned off like it is supposed to be, if not I will turn it off.  Go upstairs and turn off the toilet in his bathroom.  Wipe the inside door of the washer with antibacterial soap and wipe off with paper towel.  Run a quick cycle with hot water, then start my laundry for the day.  I can usually get about 2 loads done per day, maybe 3 during the time he is at work.  I try to have my morning stuff done by 12:00 just in case he comes home for lunch for some reason, but if he is not home by 12:25 I will go ahead and start the next load.  This is stressful for me on towel day because I start the load at 8:30 and it often isn't done until 1:30 or 2:00.  I have found that he rarely comes home for lunch, so on the off chance that he does, I find a way of dealing with it, probably would just throw out the load.  Now between cycles I sometimes have to run a quick wash too.  Like if I have washed my daughters school stuff then I have a regular cleaner load that needs to go in, I will run a quick cycle between to wash anything out.  Usually I try to go from cleanest to dirtiest during the day, but it doesn't always work out that way.  My closet is very limited anywhere to what I can wear.  Currently I have no dry PJ pants to wear tonight.  I just pulled out my PJ pants from the washer around 4pm, and have box fans on them to hopefully get them dry by 9-10pm tonight...I guess I will have to take my shower later than usual tonight for that reason.  Now I try to get my daughter and my laundry done all week while he is at work.  He comes home around 4:40 every day, and so I start to get frantic around 4:30 as usually I am scrambling to finish up laundry before he gets home.  I get real worried during the day that he might come home early or leave work for some reason, so I really don't like to leave the house while laundry is going.  Since my laundry basically takes all day, this means I can't leave the house.  If I do leave for a short trip I slide the pocket door closed in our laundry room (because he would have to open it to get in the house) and lock the dead bolt in the door out to the garage.  Then when I come home if the door is unlocked or the sliding door is open I will know he came home.  I try to keep trips very short for this reason.  I have had a hard time getting to the grocery store lately, usually I have to go in the evening when my daughter is home and she can sit out and watch TV and make sure that he is not getting into anything.  Him being home alone is another major issue right now and I will explain this further in another post.   I have called in sick to work twice recently because I didn't know how I would get laundry done if I had to go into work for 4 hours.  I knew I wouldn't be caught up.  Keep in mind that I am often working from home as I am doing the laundry, so I'm trying to make medical calls as I'm running up and down the stairs "watching" the washing machine to make sure that things are getting properly sudsed and then rinsed.
I also feel like a lot of clothing is "contaminated" and unwearable after certain things.  I used to just throw things in the wash and consider them clean.  However now I am finding that after certain things happen I don't even want to wear the article of clothing ever anymore and I just throw it away.  I have a huge pile of clothing in my house that is constantly growing of things that I can not wear anymore, that I will either throw away or take to a donation box.  I feel bad taking them to a donation box because I don't want someone else to be harmed by the clothing either.  If something happened to them, then it would be may fault I put it in there.  So I just keep it in a pile because I do not know what to do with it.  Some examples of things I would just throw away without even washing would be a lot of the things I described above.  The coat that my dad touched after being in my car engine and touching jumper cables.  The shirts that people at my work touched.  The shirt that a little boy touched. The outfit that my niece touched.  The pair of pants that something of my husband's fell on.  My husband possibly brushed up against a T-shirt of mine, so that went in the pile too.  We had a meeting at work the other day and they chose to meet in the patient waiting room.  So my whole outfit got put in that pile.  My  mind simply can not handle wearing clothing from a pediatric doctors office waiting room.  My daughter took a field trip last week and rode on a school bus, and her whole outfit is in that pile now also.  I have thrown out countless pairs of slippers since we got our puppy 2 months ago.  Once a slipper ends up in her mouth, I don't want to wear it anymore.  I have been wearing slippers (and having my daughter wear them also) because there have been urine accidents and stains which have been cleaned up on our carpet since we got our puppy, and I don't want to step on the carpet in socks.  So the slippers are kind of functioning as an indoor shoe for us, so I feel more comfortable walking around in our house.  Another example is my husbands coat brushed up against a pair of jeans at church and I threw those in the discard pile also.  So many things getting thrown out.  That is why it is easier just to stay home.  I don't know why I am so fixated on this lately.  I never even gave it a second thought before, but of course when I didn't have OCD what reason would I have to question those types of things.  Now I just question everything.
Also, OCD can really bring out the creativity in a person and you tend to learn how to work around things.  Because I get so behind on my laundry and can only do the laundry when my husband is not home, I feel I need access to the washer 7 days a week in order to keep up with the laundry.  Since I have a 4-5 hour process of washing out the washer after I do his laundry for the week, that basically puts the washing mashine out of commission for me for 2 days.  1 day to do 2 his 2 loads and then another day to do the cleanout.  I have to do the clean out when he is gone, because I shut off water supply to all of the toilets.  He doesn't have much laundry to do so it seems like if I could find a different method of doing his laundry that would help me out, so that I don't have to go through the cleanout of the washer process, and then it would give me access to the washer again 7 days/week.  I checked on Amazon and found a few small washing machines that don't hook up to indoor plumbing.  That you either just crank or push a button and it does the laundry.  But I don't want to spend $50-$100 on a little machine for him, and also that seems like a lot of work to do.  I think what I decided I'm going to try for a couple of weeks is handwashing his clothes.  Of course I don't want to touch them, so I have a plan.  This is how crazy OCD gets.....
I am going to the store to buy a couple of large buckets, some Woolite handwashing detergent and some giant gloves which fit up to the elbow.  I am going to try handwashing his laundry one day this week, just so I don't have to go through the process of a cleanout for the washer, and I can catch up on my laundry.  Really it will just be underwear, socks and his khaki pants he wears to work, so that won't be too bad.  At least I'll give it a try and see how it works this week.  Once I am able to catch back up on laundry I can hopefully put his stuff back in the washing machine again eventually.
So I took an OCD severity inventory last night.  I first told my husband about my OCD a little over 2 years ago.  At that point it was probably moderate in severity.  A lot of things bothered me, however I was much better able to function normally at that point.  I continue to have all of the same things that bother me, however have really gotten pretty strong into this laundry ritual now for about 9 months to the point where I feel my symptoms have become much more time consuming.  I'm spending much of my day doing rituals and compulsions.  The inventory revealed severe OCD, 2 points away from extreme OCD.  That is scary.  I have known that is where I am for a long time, but to see those words pop up and know I am that close to extreme OCD is very frightening.  It has really consumed me recently.  I don't know what to do anymore.  There are many days I am feeling like this is what I wake up doing and this is what I do all day.  I don't relax anymore.  I don't find myself sitting down and doing fun things anymore.  Even when I do sit down and try to relax, I am easily distracted.  There is so much more that plays into this, the OCD and the marriage issues are just really depressing me.  The fact that my husband doesn't understand OCD and has never supported me in this, is just really taking a mental and emotional toll on me.  I think that is what my next post will be about.  That will probably even be longer that this post!!  A lot of anger and resentment in that situation which in turn escalates the OCD too, I think.
***Also just a side note.  My husband normally works 8-12 on Mondays, which isi today.  This morning he woke up and had to return a piece of equipment somewhere so he wasn't going to go into work.  This threw my whole laundry plan off for the week because I got the impression it would take him maybe 1-2 hours to return this, and then he told me his plan was to come home and sleep for awhile.  Well I knew I wouldn't have time to complete laundry before he got home, so I am off a whole day now on laundry.  It is now 11:15 almost as I'm writing this and he is still not home, so I probably could have gotten the load done after all.  It seems like I am working my rituals around whether or not he is home.  This all ties into the issues with him and I will better be able to describe this all next post.  Also found out we have a meeting at work tomorrow at noon which I am supposed to attend.  I work from home tomorrow and plan to have laundry going over the lunch hour so I don't plan on going in for the meeting.  I am sure I will get an email from my boss about how I wasn't there and I hope I don't get written up, but I don't know what to do.  With not getting laundry done today, I have to keep on my plan for tomorrow, and that means I need to be home all day with the wash going.  So I guess if I get written up, then so be it.  That is where I am at right now.
****Another side note--my OCD has been terrible in the past week.  Just so you have an idea of how OCD thoughts get out of hand, get a load of this situation!  I went to Kohl's (a department store) to buy some shirts about a week ago.  Everything went well at the store, and I put the bag on my backseat and was headed home.  I stopped through a Walgreens drive-thru to pick up a Rx on the way home and the lady put my credit card on top of the Rx bag and I layed them on top of the clothes in the backseat.  Well, after I thought about it, I remembered I had just picked the credit card up of the garage floor, which is filthy.  Also it was touching my  husbands work shoes in the garage, so the thought that somehow the credit card contaminated the clothes bothered me, and I returned the whole bag of clothes the next day.  I had also even used a Wet-wipe to wipe off the credit card before all of this, but in my mind it was still contaminated and I couldn't imagine wearing the clothes, even after they had been washed.  I took them back to Kohl's the next day and tried to repurchase again.  I can't even remember the order in which all of this happened, but basically I made I think 4 attempts to buy the clothes and each time something happened and I ended up taking them back and trying again.  One time the lady licked her finger to open up the bag to put the clothes in, and then of course I didn't like that because all I could imagine was her spit on my clothes.  I immediately took them back to the return counter, and went and got the same clothes again off the shelf (different ones obviously) and took them to the other side of the store, to where this clerk itched his nose and sounded like he had a stuffy nose.  So then that bothered me.  So then I took those clothes back to the other Kohl's on the other side of town and everything went well when checking out.  No problems with how the clerk handled the clothes, I went to sit the bag in the car and I accidentally put them on the front passenger seat.  That is where my husband sits in the car, so it was contamined in my mind, and back those clothes went too.  I was so angry by this point, as I had wasted so much time running around town trying to get these clothes purchased.  I went back to Kohl's a few days later next time and got my stuff up to the counter and everything seemed to be going well, until the clerk **possibly** brushed up one of the pairs of pants I was buying up against something hanging on a rack.  It didn't seem like a new piece of clothing, it was a very tattered pair of overalls and I wasn't even sure where it came from.  So I froze right there, told her I left my credit card in my car, and I left the store.  I went online after that and bought the clothing online to be shipped to my house.
I also had another bad OCD day yesterday while making food.  I was trying to make cookies and I wear a glove over my right hand when I cook/bake, because I have warts on  my right hand (probably because of the OCD).  As I was stirring the cookies I noticed that the glove was wet on the outside, and it may have just been wet from washing my  hands or from perspiration on my hand from heavy mixing, but everytime my glove gets wet like that I start obsessing thats its somehow fluids from the wart and then I can't think about anything else.  So I took the cookie dough which was half done at that point and tossed it in the trash.  Later that day I was getting dinner ready to put in my  Crock-pot slow cooker.  I had put the chicken in along with some canned items, and then as I was pouring chicken broth into the slow cooker, the outside of the can brushed against the top of the Crock-pot.  All I could think about was how germy the outside of the can could be.  How many people had touched it, it sat in a grocery cart and on a shelf at the store.  I thought about it contaminating our dinner and I dumped everything in the trash.  It has been awhile since I have ruined a dinner like that with OCD, but this last week or so all of this with the clothes happened and then with the food.  Just an example of how bad OCD can get.  I document these situations time to time just to track my progress.  


  1. Just want you to know that you are not alone. I share these same types of obsessions and have thrown hundreds of dollars of clothes away because I feel they are contaminated. It's awful.

    1. Hi anonymous, thanks for stopping by. I am so, so sorry to hear that you deal with this issue as well. It is awful, and overwhelming. In order to help myself get this problem under control, I started to process what really happens with the clothing manufacturing process. In reality most clothing is getting made in other countries and going through who knows what kind of process to be made. Chemicals, all kind of hands all over it, who knows what those have been doing/touching. Plus the handling they get at stores, people trying on. So I figure that any contamination I sense now is probably far less contaminating than what happened in the process of them being made, but it is still hard to wrap our heads around. I think out of sight out of mind applies with OCD. WE don't see the manufacturing process so we don't really think about it, but when we see something happen to our clothes, it becomes an obsession/trigger. I just had an Easter gathering with my family the other day and I was handed a baby. I wanted to decline, but I didn't want to be rude. The mother came over and threw the babys burp towel right over my entire shirt and neck. I about panicked. Of course I was panicking in my mind, but my reactions didn't show such (because I've learned to cover it up in public). Sadly to say, I think that is one I will throw away. I could see spit up stains all over the towel and it was on my shirt. It is horrible to admit, but I would rather throw away a shirt and be done with it. So, so stressful. If you ever want chat outside of this blog, let me know. Sometimes it helps to really talk with someone else that has such similar issues!

  2. Hi, I just read alot of your post that had to do with doing the laundry. I have severe ocd and it is very hard for me to touch dirty clothes. So everyone in the family puts their dirty clothes in the hamper. When the hamper is full I bring it down to the basement and put it in the washing machine. But then I feel dirty because 1. I carried the hamper down 2 flights of stairs and had to touch it 2. I had to load the dirty clothes into the washing machine. So now I feel totally dirty and must take a shower right after. Then after I shower I feel safer to put the clean clothes into the dryer. How do you handle touching the dirty clothes?

    1. Hi Anonymous, I am so sorry to hear about you struggling with this illness as well. To be honest, I have never required more than just handwashing after touching dirty loads of laundry. But I do wash them frequently during the laundry process. I wash them before I put the clothes in the washer (so I don't add new germs to the clothes) then I wash my hands after I load the washer for most loads. Then before I take them out of the washer, I go open up the washer door and then go wash my hands again before I take them out. I'm sorry to hear that you have to shower right afterward. Are you receiving any treatment at this time? Unfortunately the best way to deal with this is to not give in and take the shower, and just sit with the anxiety, and I promise you it will get better over time. I don't know how much anxiety that would cause you, or where this would be on your hierarchy (if you have one). Is laundry your main struggle with OCD?

  3. Hi I do something that a past therapist called weird. If a piece of clean clothing even a sock drops on the floor even right after coming out of the dryer I have to put it in the dirty clothes basket. I can't see it as clean anymore. Is that a part of OCD? Thank you. I didn't get to read the whole post so not sure if this has happened to you.

  4. Hi Kimi! Thanks for the comment. Yeah, this was definitely a very LONG post, so I don't blame you for not being able to read the whole thing. I definitely feel that something that would drop on the floor after it came out of the laundry was dirty--even a sock. And yes, I would rewash it. Yes, I totally feel that way. I am intrigued and frustrated at the same time that a past therapist of yours called that weird. After all, OCD obsessions are "weird" in some way, because they are irrational. It bothers me that a therapist told you that. I think that honestly many people with OCD would probably feel the same way we do about that particular situation. It is why I have lost a lot of faith sometimes in the therapy world, because it seems that therapist don't even understand this disorder. Sigh. I'm sorry to hear that you deal with OCD too.

  5. While I want to sympathize with this insanity, I just cannot. Get help and please don't poison other family members with this horrific illness. I grew up in a home with mother with severe contamination OCD. She destroyed our childhood with it and my father was spineless enough to let her. Me, my husband and my three grown children and two young grandchildren are still never ever allowed in her home as her rituals have taken over her mind. Get help or free your family of your mental instability and let them be free without you to live a NORMAL life!!!

    1. Hi Helen, thanks for the comment. I'm not sure what brought you to my blog. I have never written a negative reply back to someone, so I apologize that this is my first time to you. Did you read the date on this post? March of 2014. That is almost 3 years ago! I am happy to say that I have improved leaps and bounds and am not having any of the above issues, for the most part,at this time. I do have a more normal life, thankfully. Myself and my family. I am insulted by what you said, but at the same time relieved that I can choose not to let it get to me. I'm also saddened for your family, that you seem so bitter towards your own mother. Please get your facts straight before you comment on someone's blog!!!

  6. Yes. Bitter because her selfishness robbed us if a normal life. She denied treatment and still does today. I didn't realize until I had my own children how destructive she was. Imagine never having friends over. Stripping down naked to be walked to a shower and never allowed to leave the home afterwards until the next school day. No pens, pencils, school books, magazines, etc. allowed in the home. Only a TV that she controlled and was able to touch. Being made to sleep in the garage or car if water was out do to local power failures because you could not get 'clean' to come in. I am so glad you helped yourself and it turn it showed how unselfish you are. My mother on the other hand will never get help and living in her hell was nothing short of child abuse. We were sworn to secrecy by her and my father so the abuse could continue. Very sad and yes, I have every right to be bitter about a woman who only cared about herself and her crazy rituals. OCD not only destroys the person but everyone around them.

    1. Helen, I am sorry that you had to endure what you did. I truly am. It's stories exactly like yours and the fear of what I could become with my OCD, if I did not jump in and treat myself. I will always have OCD, but I am thankful that I have learned to not let it define me. And have thankfully been on my way to a much better life. To be honest, I can't imagine what living like that must have been. I was just insulted because I felt like you were taking your frustrations out on me. I always thought my OCD was severe, but I hear stories such as yours, and I know that it can be much worse. I'm sure that it was awful living like that growing up. But I can assure that your mother probably feels a lot more guilt about her condition, than you might believe. I think, unless you've truly had OCD yourself, that you can not really understand why the mind works the way it does. I can truly say I never wanted to be like this, and when I was in my deepest OCD I became depressed which made the whole thing worse. But I fought every day to get out of the mess. I will always have contamination OCD, as there is no cure, as you know. But I made the decision to get better for my family and myself. It isn't always easy, but it is worth it. I have often though too, that if I did not get control of this thing...about all of the things it would affect, such as if I was blessed to have grandchildren some day. Would they feel contaminated to me? Those are the kind of things that pushed me to get better, because I did not want to live my life like that. I am not OCD free, nor will I ever be. But I have come a long way since this post was written, and I am very proud of myself for that. Again, I am sorry for what you have gone through in your life. OCD does destroy the lives of everyone involved in the family. But you only have one mother, so please please find it in your heart to forgive her and realize that it is a true illness. Bitterness is only hurting you in the end. It is a kind of poison. Best wishes.

  7. Hi, I have the same problem as far as having to take a shower after touching dirty clothes. My situation is very similar to another Anonymous poster. Everyone in my family puts their dirty clothes in the hamper in our upstairs bathroom. Then when it is full I take it down to the basement and load the washer. After that I have to take a shower. Then when I am clean I go down the basement and put them in the dryer. I also only open & close the washer and dryer doors while holding a clean cloth so my hands are never touching the washer and dryer. This is all so very depressing because my showers are very long as well. So the whole laundry and shower routine takes about 3 hours out of my day. It is exhausting.

    1. Hi anonymous. Thanks for reading and your comment. I am so truly sorry that you deal with this disorder as well. It is so heartbreaking. I have learned from this blog that there are so many people out there like us. We are not alone. Are you receiving any sort of treatment at this time?

  8. Please tell me how you got your laundry OCD under control. My daughter is severe OCD and it's like hitting a moving target. As soon as she conquers one OCD issue, another one pops up. The laundry/contamination issues has been going on for about six months and is getting pretty bad. We have no true OCD therapist in our area and are desperate for any ideas.

    1. Hi, thanks for reading. Unfortunately that is the cruelty of OCD...many of us work so hard to get one thing under control, but then another pops up and takes it place. I would love to talk more about her issues. Can you please email me at
      It may be easier to go off the blog and discuss that way. You can tell me more about her issues in her email and specifically what she is struggling with, and I will try to advise the best I can! I still deal with some of this, although it is much much much better than in the past. If she would like to e-mail with me directly that would be great too!

  9. I don't have cleaning OCD, but don't trust my washer. I put bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar in my machine twice a week, on sanitize. I have a family of 9 though. I'm visiting OCD boards to improve the cleanliness of my home. I also need to distract my hand from OCD hair pulling. I'm glad to read you have yours under control.