One of the most charming aspects about The Sims is that it sometimes falls just short of reality. Take having kids in the first game. Instead of showing the mother’s pregnancy, a cloud of daisies will flutter around in the air and ‘give birth’ to a baby in a bassinet. But The Sims is much more accurate to real life now in many ways other than having children. You can go to college, run your own restaurant, and do laundry—which is equally the worst and best thing to happen to The Sims.
The ability to wash and dry your Sims’ clothing first appeared with The Sims 3’s Ambitions expansion pack. It included a few different washing machines, dryers, and the option to dry clothing on a clothesline, which gives bonuses to eco-friendly Sims for saving energy.
Laundry was so popular after its introduction in The Sims 3 that many fans complained for years about its absence in The Sims 4 before it was eventually added through its own Stuff Pack.
The most endearing quality of laundry is that it makes a household feel more complete—and by complete, I mean you feel your Sims’ hatred for laundry as much as your own. Especially in Sims 4. (Sims 3 Sims will jump at the chance to do laundry. The weirdos.)
This week we're publishing a variety of stories about The Sims, taken from issue 334 of PC Gamer magazine. For more beautifully detailed articles about the best stories in PC gaming, consider subscribing to the magazine's US (opens in new tab) or UK (opens in new tab) editions.
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> Laundry was the best and worst thing to happen to The Sims
> How to speak like the Sims
> How The Sims has spearheaded queer representation in gaming
> The Sims 2 served as an extension of an already-embarrassing teen existence
> Making your favourites kiss in The Sims
Dirty clothes automatically get thrown into a nearby hamper when your Sim gets changed, but you need to get your Sims to move those dirty clothes to the washing machine. If any Sims in your household have the ‘neat’ trait, they might do it on their own if the hamper is overflowing, or the maid will do it for them if your Sims family is rich enough to afford a daily cleaning service—but not even the hired help wants to do laundry.
In both The Sims 3 and The Sims 4, the maid will often wait until the laundry baskets are full before they even attempt to do the most hated chore on the planet.
If they somehow muster up enough motivation, they’ll gather the clothes out of one basket, put them in the washer, and then end their work shift, leaving the family to deal with the rest while still collecting their full fee for the day.
Laundry also introduced brand new ways to make your Sims miserable—and kill them. Cheap washing machines break and soak your Sim in dirty water, leaving them in a salty mood for hours. Dryers break too, forcing your Sims to use their non-existent handiness skills and risk electrocution. The Sims 4 added an extra step to doing laundry—cleaning out the dryer’s lint. If you let it build up, it’s guaranteed your Sim will start a house fire and possibly die in the process—but if you’re the kind of person who likes to kill your Sims on purpose, this is an easier method than waiting for one of them to set the kitchen on fire.
While those quirks of doing laundry are still charming, the mechanics of it defy logic. The Sims 4 requires the player to physically click on each laundry basket in turn if they want their Sim to collect all of the laundry for a single load.
Sims 3 Sims do collect the dirty laundry from all the baskets on their own, but they create more work for themselves by collecting it in the most inefficient way possible. They’ll get laundry from one hamper on the second floor, then walk downstairs to the hamper in the second bathroom, then walk back upstairs to the kids’ room, then walk downstairs to the laundry room and throw everything in the wash while forgetting about yet another hamper full of stinky clothes hidden in some other room. Or sometimes they’ll say ‘screw it’ and just drop the laundry right in front of the washer and then go into the other room to play videogames.
Doing laundry in The Sims is entirely optional, of course. But you’ll miss out on the worst-best qualities it adds to the game—and all that adorable laundry room decor.