Spinning Stories

The Night Wash Laundry Chorus by cqualmann
October 26, 2009, 9:59 am
Filed under: Contemporary Launderettes, Laundry Instructions and tips

Wednesday October 14th, ‘The Laundry Room’ Broadway Market




video coming soon!


The night wash laundry chorus, a sneak preview by cqualmann
October 2, 2009, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Contemporary Launderettes, Laundry Instructions and tips

join us on the 14th October to hear more!


Tips for Tumble Drying by cqualmann
September 3, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Contributions, Laundry Instructions and tips, Transcripts

Right. With your tumble drying you’ve obviously got to remember to find the dryer that’s currently being used – because that’s the one that’s going to be the hottest – and wait for it. And even if that means waiting five, ten, fifteen minutes it’s going to save you time in the long run and it’s going to save you money.

Obviously when it’s on a mixed load of washing you have to make sure that you put the lighter stuff in first because that will dry really quickly. Then the bigger stuff, like the towels you put in afterwards because otherwise the water, the moisture will transfer onto the lighter garments and mean that it’s constantly wet and never dries.

Transcribed from an interview on 2nd August 2009

Roland Barthes and soap by ebutterworth
August 28, 2009, 10:06 am
Filed under: Laundry Instructions and tips, Uncategorized

In his famous work unpicking some of the iconic symbols of 1950s France, Mythologies, Roland Barthes turns his attention to soap powder adverts. He’s interested in how each product describes its relationship to dirt: chemical fluids are dangerous substances that need to be carefully regulated; they ‘kill’ the dirt, but could also (if used too abundantly) ‘burn’ the object. Soap powders are less aggressive: they gently separate the dirt from the object, ‘liberating’ clothes from the invasion of grime.

Two examples of adverts from the fifties: Persil compared two towels of different degrees of whiteness, appealing to our vanity and our shame, and presenting us with a finished product, miraculously cleansed of dirt. Omo, on the other hand, involved the consumer in the process of cleaning, describing the means through which its powder gently coaxes the grime away from the fabric, infusing its rich foam into the clothes with a light, airy, yet powerful cleaning substance.

What both adverts did was hide the abrasive action of soap powder with a persuasive narrative of air, foam, luxury and miracle. And Barthes also points out that hiding behind both products, despite their rival status on the market, is one and the same multinational company: Unilever. (Roland Barthes, ‘Soap-Powders and Detergents’, Mythologies, 1957)

Roman Road Launderette by cqualmann

On Monday I went to the Launderette on Roman Road, it seems to just be called ‘Launderette’.

I get there around 3pm. There is a black leather sofa which I sit on while I wait for my washing. There are several other people doing laundry, it is quite a large launderette and also has a dry cleaning service. Asian music is playing quietly.

The machines are Electrolux wascators W75 and W150 models.

Small Load £3

Please use the litter bin and help to keep this launderette clean and tidy. Thankyou.


1. Load machine, close door, pour approx half cupful of soap powder into each of no. 1 and no.2 soap compartments.

2. Turn selector switch for type of wash required. To start machine insert coins.

3. When light goes off at end of cycle, open door.

Place garments in the machine and CLOSE THE DOOR BEFORE inserting coins.

I notice that the music is coming from a TV mounted to the wall, showing a Bollywood musical.

Pleasantries are exchanged as people come and go, but there’s not much other talking.

There’s a large black leather office chair on wheels at the other end of the launderette – I assume this is for staff use only.

Service wash: small load £7, large load £12

Warning please do not tamper with coin boxes on these machines as they are wired to an electronic alarm system.

Handwritten sign: please do not overload the machines! Please keep machines clean and tidy.

The dryers have a notice on them:

Please remove clothes as soon as it stops so that creases do not fix in, and to avoid the risk of spontaneous combustion.

HonestyBox drawings by cqualmann

Some of my drawings for the HonestyBox (a project with Gail Burton) at Camberwell Arts Festival (26th and 27th June 2009) use imagery and texts from my launderette research.

Rosser Halls – Student Launderette at Aberystwyth University by cqualmann

Whilst at a conference in Aberystwyth I couldn’t resist a peek at the student (24 hour) launderette in the Rosser Halls of residence. There is no-one in there (it is around 1.30 am) but all of the lights are on.