Living the dream, people...

>> Thursday, 3 May 2012

Recently, our washing machine started to have an unpleasant, damp sort of smell about it, so I made a call to our building manager. "I think it may be leaking at the back," I told her, "but I can't pull it out to check because it has the tumble dryer on top of it."

"Don't do anything" she replied.  "I will send the engineers over to check it out for you today."

In due course, the house was teeming with 'engineers' (handymen, to you and I.  I've written about them before, here and here).  The washing machine was not the only job that needed doing; I also wanted some lightbulbs changing (in our contract we are expressly forbidden to do this dangerous job ourselves, although - sh - I have been known to just do it and not mention it) which took not one but two highly skilled workers; and a shower curtain rail fitted, which needed another 3 guys - one to do the work and 2 more to give instructions and check out the contents of our bathroom cabinet.  With the two extra guys who turned up to check out the smell from the washing machine, that made a total of 7 engineers in the house all at the same time.  Such is life, in a city where 'full employment' is the name of the game.

My Russian, by the way?  Still crap.  So as you can imagine, communication was difficult - but we managed.

After half an hour or so, Engineer Guys 6 & 7 (Washing Machine Detail) came to find me to explain what the problem was.

Now, I have to issue a disclaimer here; Moscow is pretty dirty.  Not generally in a 'dog poo & rubbish on the sidewalk' way (although I have written about that too), but more in a 'lots of open ground which is bare earth 7 months of the year, dust blowing around, too many cars, and power stations in the city' sort of a way.  People wear indoor and outdoor shoes, and it's the absolute height of bad manners to visit someone's home and not take your outdoor shoes off the moment you step inside their front door.

So I have to admit that whilst I was embarrassed to discover the cause of the smell was - according to the Washing Machine Detail - dirt inside the detergent drawer of the washing machine (BAD housewife, PM), I was not completely surprised.  We gave it a good scrub out, and they left, telling me that the building manager would call shortly to explain what would happen next.

The moment they were out of the door, I put the empty washing machine on it's hottest wash and went back to supervise Shower Curtain Rail  Detail upstairs.

Very shortly, the building manager rang me back.  "OK PM, the engineers have told me the problem and are going to get something to sort it out. They will fix it."

"But I thought it had been fixed.  We washed the drawer out, it seems clean, and I'm running a hot cycle now just to be sure."

"No, no.  It needs a very special chemical to fix it.  They are checking if we have it now and if we do they will come back later to finish the job, otherwise we will send someone out to buy it and they will come back tomorrow.  Do not do anything..."

Intrigued, I took her at her word.  Later that day, after the Lightbulb and Shower Curtain Rail Details had left, the Washing Machine Detail returned.  After the building managers' comments about a special chemical, I had been expecting Powerful Medicine.  Possibly, I thought, I might not be able to wash clothes for a day or so whilst the machine was being attended to.  I would not have been surprised to seem them turn up in chemical suits with face masks and have them ask me to vacate the premises whilst they sealed the utility room and dealt with the problem.

This is what they turned up with.

Oh, and by the way?  The washing machine still smells...


nappy valley girl 3 May 2012 at 14:41  

Ah Cillit Bang - a super secret KGB weapon, for sure.
Love it.

Expat mum 3 May 2012 at 14:56  

Have just seen a TV commercial for some special washing machine cleaning stuff that gets rid of the mold on the back of the drum, (apparently the source of most smells). It looks and smells like any other cleaner but no, this is special stuff for washing machines.
Or, - you could run a quick cycle with half a cap of bleach in the water. On the sly when no one's around.

Irene 3 May 2012 at 16:05  

Expat Mum's advice sounds good. That's what I'd do. You may try that with a bottle of vinegar too if the bleach doesn't work. xox

manycoloured-days 3 May 2012 at 16:20  

Sorry to butt in with a different topic (and I am a regular reader so please don't take offense!). I saw the Violet Posy ad on your blog and contacted her as my blog would really like a facelift (love her work) but she's not taking on any more assignments at the moment. Would you happen to know anyone else who does the same?

Anonymous,  3 May 2012 at 18:23  

That's hilarious. The Cold War could have been fought and won on that stuff.

Potty Mummy 4 May 2012 at 10:46  

NVG, now that you mention it, it was probably developed by 'M'...

EPM - I will be trying the bleach trick TODAY!

Irene, thanks - the vinegar is next on the list if the bleach doesn't work.

MCD, no offence taken of course! Re the blog design I have to say I can't help; have you tried the BritMums site? They may have some listings. Good luck, in any case.

Save, thankyou. And who knows - maybe it was, all the time, a secret weapon...

Mandy_savvymummys 4 May 2012 at 14:09  

I have to say this post did make me chuckle! As I was reading it, I too was fixed to my laptop screen, waiting to hear all about this amazing product that they claim to do wonders! Great read!

Iota 4 May 2012 at 17:50  

So how many Russians does it take to change a light bulb?

Vinegar and bleach are good suggestions. I was once told by a washing machine engineer that a smell can be caused by a build up of soap. So (going back to O level chemistry) I guess that's why vinegar is good. Soap is an alkali and vinegar is an acid and would dissolve it.

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