That; and how to kiss your dry cleaner goodbye. More on that.
I won’t go on about a bigger, badder, HE washer; a one-and-done-behemoth; that’s too obvious. And expensive; but if you are in the market for a new washing machine, then, hey.
I won’t pretend we simply don’t get our clothes dirty. Friends, I have 5 kids, most of whom breathe mess like oxygen. My husband does tile. I wear my coffee. We have pets. We garden. In short, we are messy people, to the Extra degree. (You know those gardeners who wear pristine white gloves? TV Foodies who have acrylic nails, flowing hair, white sweaters, and no apron? This post is not for people like them, who are either airbrushed or perfect. I am a real person, and if you are reading this, I expect you are, too.)
There are so many reasons to wash less; save time, save money, save the planet, save the garment itself. Did you know that your clothes wear out more from washing than from actual wearing?
Let’s dive in.
- Don’t get so dirty. (I know what I said above.) *Do live life. *Do the messy things. But do so with an apron, smock, or a bib. Those don’t need to be washed until they get attacked with a full cup of coffee or jar of tomato sauce.
- Re-wear your clothes. I have some essentials that never let me down. I will re-wear the things that I like, because nobody cares what I wear, except for me. Nobody probably even notices. Spotlight effect, anyone? Please don’t wash your clean clothes just to have an excuse to take a new look out for a spin. A note on wearing your favorite look on the regular; this is your brand. This is YOU. Don’t think you have to switch up your look just to fit in. Wear what you like, and like what you wear. Legit; most of my kids wear their clothes day in and day out, until I make them change.
- Clothes have job descriptions: This outfit is my garden outfit for the week. As long as it smells clean, I don’t care if it has dirt on the front. (It does.) Earlier today, I was wearing a twist on my fall capsule wardrobe. I put it away to keep it clean while I work. Other clothes have job descriptions that may include working out, office, or just looking chic. I haven’t given up the idea of a 3rd outfit for the day if a date with hubby pops up. Speaking of hubby, he has some tar-clothes. Do you know what tar clothes are? They are clothes that were about to bite the dust, and he used them for a job involving sticky tar. Every weekend when he does that kind of work, on they go, until the job is eventually done, and those suckers go in the trash. I’m sorry to send them to the landfill, but it was time. Before the tar. And you better believe I’m not accepting any tar-clothes in my washing machine.
- Commit to full loads. I know I’m always saying to buy better, buy less, but… I did actually invest in plenty of white towels so that I can easily wear my 2 or 3 light colored garments, but still have a full load to wash them in. (I don’t believe in just waiting 3 weeks until you can finally eek out enough of that special laundry type to fill a load. This can cause stains to set and become permanent. Also, old laundry stinks.)
- Go Natural: Not all clothing fibers are equal when it comes to dirt. Wool, hemp, cotton (to a lesser degree) have antimicrobial properties. They can be worn multiple times if you are mindful with them. Wool is especially wonderful in this regard, and usually only requires air cleaning. (More on that below.) Not so with synthetics like polyester, nylon, and acrylic. They may be cheap, they may be recycled, but they are still fast fashion, quick to smell dirty, quick to fall apart, quick to the landfill.
- I love leather. Wipe it clean, condition once in a blue moon, the absolute queen of easy-care. Leather wears like a dream and it looks amazing; it is comfortable; it repels water if it starts to rain. Quality leather is a lifetime investment. Imitation leather is fast fashion destined for the landfill, and quickly starts to smell like sour sweat and weird chemicals. Remember all this when shoe shopping. I have 2 good leather pairs of shoes, and most of my outfits revolve around them. They are worth a little TLC to give them a very long life.
- Spot clean. Yes, baby. It’s so easy. Wipe clean with a damp napkin, or whatever is handy. Spilling coffee down one’s front will require leaning over the sink and doing a good spot-rinse and squeeze-dry. I know.
- Give those babies some air. What is more green and easy than simply hanging your wool sweater, quilt, or shoes? That’s the old fashioned way. Hang on the curtain rod. Rest it on the dresser. On the clothesline. On a tree. Draped over a bush. Ask Grandma. I can wear my wool sweaters and pajamas for a veeeeery long time this way. How long? I have no idea. Weeks. Again, the beauty of antimicrobial fabrics combined with a little air. Remember this next time you are questioning the higher price tag on natural clothing.
- Spritz with vodka. You can usually kill the bacteria causing the smell with a 50/50 spray of water/vodka, or vinegar, rubbing alcohol, etc. You can add essential oils if you like. I spray on the armpit area, snow boots, leather jacket lining, and fur.
- Freeze the smell out if you don’t want to put anything on the garment or footwear. I have used this effectively for jeans, especially. Again, this kills the bacteria. I really don’t use this strategy often. It’s more so for when I need to treat the entire garment.
- You may wonder about the dry cleaner. I just don’t do that, except maybe once a decade for a stubborn stain on a very special garment. It’s expensive, time consuming, and bad for you and the environment. Conventional dry cleaners use perchlorethylene (Perc for short), which is bad for the earth, and has been linked to cancer and other illnesses. I’m convinced that with the above methods, my clothes are perfectly clean, and will last longer, anyway. Also, there are some garments so special to me that I really wouldn’t trust them to a dry cleaner. *There are all-natural dry cleaners who use environmentally friendly products. If you must dry clean on the regular, with a professional, I recommend finding one of these near you.
There is so much more that could be said about dry cleaning. DIY; At home, like a boss. Which products to use, and how to do it in less time than it would take to drop off and pick up those nice wool suits and evening dresses. We can talk about it a different time.
Bonus: When my kids are old enough, they do their own laundry. My 10 year old has been doing hers for a long time already. I only help them out to fill my loads if I need some more whites, etc.
I hope some of my laundry tips helped. Steal my tips, tailor them to your laundry personality, and get on with your day with hopefully one less thing to do.