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Andy Newton
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Published February 23, 2014

If you are under the age of 30 - and provided you’re not from one of those countries where people live with their mothers forever, like Italy or the Independent State of Samoa - there is a fair chance that, week in and week out, you find yourself with a sack of dirty shirts and socks at a local laundromat or in your building’s laundry room. It’s inevitable, really. After all, there are only so many days in a row you can wear that Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt before people start to ask questions.

Not that they weren’t already!

Still, laundry can be oddly and surprisingly personal, and, if you’re not careful, the simple activity of washing your clothes can turn into an evening chock full of embarrassing faux pas and enemy-making.

Be aware: there is a certain etiquette to using a communal washer and dryer. If there is a load already running in the machine, and someone else has a basket of clothes sitting on top, wait your proper turn in the laundry queue. Remember, no one likes a cutter! If someone has clearly forgotten about their load, and you would like to use the machine, place their clothes in an available basket to ensure that you don’t dirty them up. Finally, if you can help it, try to sniff as few of your upstairs neighbor’s panties as is humanly possible.

Test cases have found that habitually sniffing the lace and cotton panties your upstairs neighbor often leaves sitting atop the washer is, in fact, not considered an endearing, innocuous quirk. Though others may argue that the practice is nothing more than a mere foible - a harmless peccadillo - certain strawberry blonde 24-year-olds with a lean, athletic build and retro-style framed glasses that vaguely remind you of those sexy librarian fantasies you used to harbor as a painfully shy, obese high school student find the proclivity to be rather off-putting.

Perhaps setting boundaries for the custom would mitigate the unease typically aroused by it. Why not start small? Sniff only two pair of panties per cycle of laundry you do. Then, slowly but surely, you can build on the rule. Try sniffing a couple pair only on odd weeks or just when you wash your sheets. Lessening the frequency of your panty-sniffing will ensure good laundry etiquette.

Or, you know, you can just wait ‘till your neighbor leaves the room.

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