You be the judge: should my flatmate iron and fold the laundry – including the tea towels? | Cohabitation


The prosecution: Rita

Zara shoves towels into drawers and most of her clothes are crumpled. It’s madness

I’ve lived with Zara for six years. We met at university and moved in together after graduating. She’s far messier than me. Living together, I’ve noticed she hasn’t learned how to fold clothes and put things away without crumpling them.

Zara doesn’t fold anything – she crams. She has done this ever since I’ve known her. Tea towels will be shoved into drawers, completely crumpled. In her room, Zara hangs up a few key items, but if you open her drawers it’s total chaos. Most of her clothes remain eternally crumpled. She refuses to fold pyjamas, vest tops and underwear. She doesn’t even pair up her socks! She says: “What’s the point, my socks are all white so I can just grab any two.”

I think it’s madness to live in such a disorganised way. I find folding clothes quite therapeutic. I’m not extreme, but I do keep things in order. Tidy room, tidy mind. I also iron my bedsheets and some of our shared items like cushion covers and bath mats. Zara says it’s a waste of time. But I like things to be crispy and creaseless, especially if they are on display.

When we went on holiday recently, the baggage allowance was small, so we decided to split one large suitcase. We argued about how to pack before we left. I prefer to use packing cubes – they’re these little fabric pouches that help you organise your items and save you space. I bought enough cubes for both of us, but Zara refused to try them. I watched her roll up towels and bikinis and say that “would do”. On the way back, she had loads of dirty clothes that she chucked in with our remaining clean ones. Using packing cubes would have been more hygienic. Her method also took up more space and was less efficient.

I don’t mind if Zara refuses to fold things at home as long as she makes an effort with my stuff or our shared items. The tea towels and bathroom towels need to be folded after washing because they look messy and otherwise remain crinkled for ages. We aren’t at uni any more – I think Zara needs to grow up.

The defence: Zara

Life is short – why waste time arranging your underwear and ironing the towels?

I don’t think my resistance to ironing sheets or folding my clothes makes me an untidy or slovenly person. If anything, it makes me an efficient one. Life is short, so why waste time arranging underwear drawers or ironing things that are meant to be crumpled, like towels?

If it’s a work blazer or a good dress, I’d give it a quick iron and then hang it up. But towels and bath mats, which are usually wet and washed frequently, definitely don’t need to be ironed – or even folded. After washing towels I just chuck them in the drawer because we go through them so quickly. There’s no need to fold them. And no one sees them until they are being used, and by that point they’re dirty again.

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I don’t iron my bed sheets as they go straight on the bed, or waste time folding elastic things that don’t crease, like gym wear. It’s common sense. Rita makes out that not ironing and folding things makes me a slob, but I don’t like to waste energy. My underwear drawer is chaos to her but to me it’s a symbol of my freedom – I’m free because I don’t spend time ironing and folding things that nobody really sees.

When we went on holiday, I had the idea to share one large suitcase instead of paying for two medium ones. It helped us save money, and was a great plan until Rita tried to force me to pack my half the way she wanted with these silly cubes. They were impractical. You had to fold the items to put them in the cube. Then arrange the cubes in the case. What’s the point?

Rita got irritated that I just wanted to chuck my stuff in the case. She was like: “Oh, but I’ve bought these for you and it will keep everything neat.” I did appreciate the gesture but I’m sure that my method saved more time.

I definitely won’t be folding our shared items in our flat. I like to keep it tidy but I’m not anal. And no one has ever come around and said: “Wow, the place looks great but your bath mat hasn’t been ironed.” Nobody cares. Rita needs to relax and focus on the bigger things in life.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Zara be brought into the fold and follow Rita’s laundry lead?

Zara is still behaving like a student. Her reasoning that life is short is a poor excuse. It takes little time to fold, and folding reduces the need to iron.
Jeannie, 63

Yes, life is too short to iron thongs and bath mats, and ironing towels just takes away their fluffiness – and we all need some fluffiness in our lives. But not folding them? That’s pure laziness. Zara is guilty.
Sandra, 61

I’m with Zara on this, although she isn’t completely innocent. There’s nothing to say that folding “has to be done” – that’s just Rita’s preference. I think Rita needs to relax, but Zara needs to compromise when it comes to shared items.
Declan, 27

Living together involves compromise, and respecting another’s approach means respecting the other person. I’ve been with my partner for 25 years and his side of the bedroom is messy with clothes in piles. If I care about shared things, I make them look better, but I don’t complain.
John, 58

While Rita is extreme in her desire for order – nothing can convince me that ironing a bath mat is a worthwhile pursuit – I think Zara is guilty. She says she wants to focus on the big things, but friendship is a big thing. If folding shared towels and packing a suitcase tidily makes her friend happier and more comfortable, that’s a worthwhile way to spend a few extra minutes.
Rosie, 30

You be the judge

So now you can be the judge. In our online poll below, tell us: should Zara start to iron and fold her laundry??

We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.

The poll will close on Thursday 2 June, at 9am BST

Last week’s result

We asked if Diarmuid should start dusting with a wet cloth, as using a dry one irritates his wife Maureen.

57% of you said no – Diarmuid is innocent
43% of you said yes – Diarmuid is guilty

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