This will seem an odd choice to some readers – read about doing laundry? I’d heard rave reviews of this book, especially from Modern Mrs. Darcy, so I picked it up. Not only is this a surprisingly fun read but it’s incredibly practical. I found myself highlighting, bookmarking, and re-reading. Then I made a shopping list, went to the store, and picked up most of what he recommends.
Richardson’s goal is to help us care for our clothing better, but in the process to also help the environment, save time and money, and love our clothes more. That’s a pretty tall order! I’ve already tried a few of his suggestions and the upshot is I’m doing laundry less often and using products with less chemicals, so both of those things make me really happy.
This book made me think about ALL the questions I’ve always had about laundry, like how often should you wash different types of clothing, like jeans? What can be washed together (for example, if a t-shirt is half red and half white, what do you wash it with)? What setting should I use on my machine? What do you dry or not dry? What do you hang or lay flat? What goes in those little mesh washing bags? When do you need to dry clean? How do you get out the oil that splattered on you while cooking, or those stains you find AFTER you’ve dried something? And lastly, what the heck are those rubber dryer balls?
I won’t give away his secrets, but it will tell you something about this book to know that the first chapter is called “Don’t Let Your Clothes Tell You What to Do.”
When it comes to cleaning, our clothes are bossy. Their tags bully us into time-sucking techniques, and before we know it, each article of clothing is trying to tell us what to do – and none of it is simple.Laundry Love
There’s almost no question that Richardson doesn’t answer in a simple, straightforward way. Some of his suggestions might be too much for me – like I probably don’t need one of those clothes steamers, even though I’m fundamentally opposed to ironing. I’m unlikely to ever “blue” anything. And I wish I had a nice laundry room with an actual sink where I could hand wash and soak out stains, but that’s not happening any time soon. But I have come to the realization over the years that clothes are important – they express our identities, they make us feel good (or not good), and it’s the responsible thing to take good care of them.
In the 90’s, a show called What Not to Wear taught me this – we’re going to get up each day and decide what to wear, and whatever we decide is going to make us feel a certain way. So it’s as easy to pick out an outfit that makes you feel good as it is to pick out one that makes you feel bad or uncomfortable.
Similarly, since we have to do laundry either way, we might as well do it right. And if that means doing laundry less, making it more eco-friendly and less expensive, sign me up.
So far I’ve been happy with everything I’ve tried, though I think the key will be whether my clothes feel like they are maintained better in the long run (washing on high speed does make me nervous, as does washing all of my dry-clean only clothes). One small caveat here is that Richardson does run a shop and he does recommend some specific products. But there was very little in his book I couldn’t pick up from the grocery store and I never felt like anything in this book was a hard sell.
I got this book out from the library, but I’ve already referred to it so much I’ll definitely be purchasing my own copy to sit on my shelf (or near my washing machine).
Note: I read this book for the Nonfiction Reader challenge (a reference book).