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Washy Watchy

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Round and round, the dancing laundry...
Let's lose our minds, forget the time.
"Why are you watching
The washing machine?
I love entertainment
So long as it's clean."
UNIX fortune file

It's time to do laundry again. T-shirts, pants, socks, small children, underwear... Yup, Bob tosses the usual hamper all in to clean. And while the rinse cycle goes on, it's time to... Sit down and watch it. Why? Maybe Bob is a Cloudcuckoolander or even The Ditz. Maybe he sees something shiny or important swirling around inside. Maybe he's just bored. Regardless, Bob decides it's worth his time to watch the washing machine do its job.

This is a fairly Discredited Trope but can still occasionally be seen at laundromats in Real Life (if for no other reason than the fact that a full load of laundry can take about an hour to wash, and another to dry, and you have to do something to kill that time). On the other hand, it's a bit of a Coconut Effect in the way that clear-front washing machines are not very common in laundromats as they are usually much newer (and why would a laundromat owner upgrade when their '80s/'90s machines work fine?).

Almost always Played for Laughs. A subtrope of A Good, Old-Fashioned Paint Watching.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Carole & Tuesday, the titular duo are inspired to come up with the song "Round and Laundry" after they spend some time doing this.
  • Occurs in Yotsuba&!, when Yotsuba is helping the Ayases clean their house. She becomes intrigued by a washer with a door on its side (her Dad's was a top loader). A little later, Yotsuba is standing and staring at the washer, thinking it fun.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Garfield strip while Jon and Garfield were visiting Jon's family on the farm, Jon and Doc Boy were apparently watching some kind of program, which turns out to be the laundry getting washed in the washing machine. Doc Boy says with excitement, "There goes the red sock again!"
  • This Mother Goose and Grimm strip showed Ralph watching what he thought was a program on the Weather Channel, when it was actually the Maytag that he was watching.

    Film—Live Action 
  • Played very much for drama in Stuart Little. Stuart gets caught up in some laundry and ends up in the front-loading washing machine. Snowbell, the cat, comments, "Why would I turn it off? It's my favorite show." Adapted from the scene in the book where Stuart gets trapped in the latched refrigerator, which Snowbell nonchalantly kicks closed.

  • The Mangler has a scene where two characters talk about The Mangler... While watching a washing machine spin their clothes around.
  • Elmo's Wash and Dry is a Sesame Street bath book that shows Elmo doing this at a laundromat.
  • Sam the Cat: Detective: Street cat Oscar watches the machines from the laundromat window as entertainment. He considers it to be as good as television and especially likes the Soaps. Later on he walks about a tv show he saw where the police just chased a guy in circles until they all fell down and is reminded that was the rinse cycle.
  • In the picture book The Forgetful Bears Help Santa, the Forgetful Bears' washing machine has two notes taped to it, one reading "Don't forget the soap" and the other reading "This is not a T.V." Despite this, Mr. Forgetful sits down on a chair and watches Santa's suit being washed, he and the other Forgetful Bears having insisted on doing this after seeing the state it was in following him coming down the chimney.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first episode of The Odd Couple, Gwendolyn and Felix watch a washing machine cycle during their double date.
  • A sketch on The Benny Hill Show has a person watching his laundry at the laundromat, and actually switching channels somehow.
  • On Mythbusters when they test the myth of cooking a lasagna in a dishwasher Adam and Jamie (and Alton Brown) lower the dishwasher door and clamp a sheet of glass over the opening so they can see what's going on. Adam and Alton note how fascinating it is to see the dishwasher in operation and concede that it'd be worth the louder dishwasher noise to have a glass-front unit.
  • On Taskmaster, when the competitors were challenged to destroy a cake in the most beautiful way possible, Noel Fielding attempted this by putting his cake, plate and all, into a washing machine. Taskmaster Greg admitted that he could happily watch it spin for hours.

  • The waitress doing her laundry in The Pretenders' "Watching the Clothes" falls pretty squarely in the "just bored" camp.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In a Spitting Image U.S. election special, an aide informs Ronald Reagan that he's not watching TV but the washing machine. Reagan turns a dial on it and continues watching.
    Aide: Mr. President, that's still the washing machine.
    Reagan: What, on both channels?

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Mid-Life Crustacean", watching laundry at the laundromat is one of SpongeBob and Patrick's ideas of a good time—much to the disappointment of tagalong Mr. Krabs, who was hoping for an exciting evening of debauchery to make him feel young again. Of course, since this is SpongeBob and Patrick we’re talking about, they’re ideas of “fun” don’t exactly match up with what Mr. Krabs is expecting.
  • In one Mr. Magoo cartoon, Magoo thinks the washing machine is a TV and that the long johns sloshing inside is some guy swimming the English Channel.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy starts a two-part wishing episode off with Billy watching the washing machine, wishing he could be "in the show too". At the episode Grim uses the last wish to wish that they had never found the wishing skull sending us back to that same scene, except Mandy asks Billy if he wants to be on TV and then throws him into the washer, which keeps them from finding the skull.
  • Happens in Family Guy, with Peter watching the laundry being washed like a tv show. He even talks about Meg's shirt having an affair with Chris's socks and "how fun it is to watch rich people be naughty".
    • In a much later episode, this is apparently how Lois entertains herself during housework. If a certain shirt goes around three times in view, she gets to have a diet Coke.
  • The Rugrats (1991) episode "Wash/Dry Story" had the babies taken to the laundromat. Not only did they think the washing machines were TVs, they thought it was the best programme ever.
  • Justified in "Down to Earth" from Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot. The mother of the boy that Funshine Bear is helping, Jake, tossed him in with the laundry, believing him to be a plush toy. Fortunately, this won't harm Funshine because he isn't a normal bear, something that he assures Jake of before actually going into the washing machine. At dinner, Jake has a bad case of the giggles because from his seat at the dinner table, he has a view of Funshine's antics in the washing machine— wearing goggles and a snorkel, as well as a bathing cap and scrubbing as if he's taking a bath.
  • Parodied on The Simpsons on "King-Size Homer". While Homer was working from home due to his hyper-obesity, one of the packages in the mail contained FREE FABRIC SOFTENER! Immediately Homer used it to clean his hat (and only his hat), and one scene had him sitting in a lawn chair entertained watching the sole piece of attire spin round and round in the dryer.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Hank's Dirty Laundry", the Hills are at a store looking to buy a new dryer. Bobby looks at one with a clear front and says "It's like watching TV only the show is about wet clothes."
  • In "Pandy's Puddle" from Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Tolee sits sadly and crying at times in front of the washing machine watching Pandy get washed after accidentally dropping Pandy in a mud puddle.
  • The WildBrain version of "Caillou Is Sick" at one points shows Caillou watching his stuffed toy Teddy spinning in the washing machine.
  • Garfield and Friends: In "Castaway Cat", Jon gives Garfield a copy of Robinson Crusoe to read while he hires a repairman to fix his cable. Garfield acts out the story, which results in him interfering with the repairman and destroying the TV. Jon is disappointed in Garfield, but decides to make the best of a bad situation, saying there's still something they can watch; their washing machine. Garfield settles on it, saying it's better than nothing.


Video Example(s):


Funshine's Antics in the Wash

When the boy Jake's mother throws Funshine Bear in the washing machine, Jake gets quite an entertaining show at dinner watching Funshine's antics, which include putting on a shower cab and scrubbing, as well as donning a snorkel. Meanwhile, Jake's parents, who have noticed nothing unusual, are perplexed when he suddenly busts out laughing in the middle of chewing his food.

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Main / WashyWatchy

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