Yes, it's true... chol ha'moed is still Yom Tov, and in general, you're not supposed to do laundry. (If you don't know what chol ha'moed or Yom Tov is, suffice to say the rest of the post isn't going to be real riveting. Just close your browser now!)
BUT you are allowed where kids' clothes are concerned, especially very young kids, especially frequently-soiled items like - ahem - diapers, that not only can't really wait until after Yom Tov altogether, but also require a potentially infinite supply.
Put simply: You can't possibly own enough diapers to see two kids through an entire Yom Tov... therefore, it's pretty much okay to wash them chol ha'moed.
The danger, as it's been explained to me, of allowing stuff to happen during chol ha'moed, is that you could come to forget that it's a holiday and treat it like an ordinary working day... which would be a real shame, as well as a possible aveirah. After all, it's not like these opportunities come along every day; just three times a year... so we should appreciate and enjoy them while they're here.
I love love LOVE using cloth, and to me, almost all the "cloth" items we use - napkins, hankies, tablecloths - have the same status as diapers.
I was at a shiur once where someone asked about washing tablecloths. The answers the rabbi gave: one, use them carefully so they don't get stained, or two, and this is most people's solution, cover them with a plastic so they don't get stained. Okay, I really have nothing huge against plastic tablecovers... thinking about it now, they actually do seem a bit yom tov-dik. Maybe I'll find a new one; I don't really know what happened to the last one; I think it fell apart over a decade ago.
But in the meantime, we're going through two and three tablecloths every single day of Yom Tov. And we only own maybe seven. So... I washed them.
Serviettes are a different thing. I so much love using cloth ones; in my opinion, they're a whole different species from paper. So... I wash them.
Hankies, ditto. They are more than a different species from Kleenex. They are in a whole nother universe.
Then, there are hand towels. We are completely unable to keep a shelf full of hand towels. No matter how many hand towels are on the shelf when I go to sleep on Thursday night - eight, fifteen, two thousand - they are ALL used up by Shabbos afternoon. And if Sunday is yom tov, forget about it. We will never make it through. So... (are you ready for it?)... I wash them.
And then, frankly, there's underwear. None of us have dozens of pairs, and since I am doing a load of laundry anyway, I usually toss in any underoos I can get my hands on. Especially kiddy underpants; you can never have enough of those.
So there you have it. My Yom Tov laundry philosophy. Yes, chol ha'moed is Yom Tov, and we are only allowed work in certain, limited, exceptional circumstances.
But sometimes laundry is one of those circumstances. There you go.
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