Patric Richardson takes a closet-half-full approach to doing laundry.
The linen scent of the detergent. The warmth of the clothes as he hugs them straight from the dryer. The soundtrack to a steamy ironing session and a disco ball hanging above a drying rack.
For Richardson, laundry is less of a chore and more of a full sensory experience.
“It’s like Studio 54 laundry,” said the 42-year-old St. Paul resident.
Richardson has managed to fall in love with one of the most hated chores in American households. And he’s making it his mission to help others conquer the laundry beast with gusto.
“Most people hate laundry because they don’t get good results,” he said. “Everything is more fun when you get good results.”
If there were a laundry club for men, Richardson would be its president. He’s an apparel and textiles expert, and says there’s no stain he can’t remove. As the owner of Mona Williams, a designer and vintage consignment boutique in northeast Minneapolis, he’s committed to making clothes last decades.
But Richardson’s most important laundry credentials stem from his Southern mother and grandmother who taught him to iron when he was 10 years old. Because of them, Richardson, too, irons his bedsheets.
“They were meticulous and everything I wore was ironed and perfect,” he said. “So I guess I associate laundry with care.”
Later, as a student studying fashion and textiles at the University of Kentucky, Richardson lamented spending money on quality clothes, because he couldn’t justify a dry cleaning bill on his college budget.
Using his own techniques, he tried washing them — and got the same results. And he did it without the chemicals and price tag.
“Once I discovered I could wash everything, all bets were off,” he said. “I said, ‘We’re going to Benetton.”
One “Dry Clean Only” garment led to another and soon Richardson was hand-washing everything: cashmere sweaters, wool trousers, even winter coats.
While working at his former job in the designer apparel department at Nordstrom, Richardson became more trusting of his washing machine when he learned the women there were machine washing their St. John suits. There isn’t much these days that Richardson won’t toss into a washing machine — including his suits.
On a recent laundry day inside his small home laundry room, Richardson shared his dirtiest laundry secrets in hopes that more people will clean up their act.
“Use quality laundry soap,” he commanded. “It’s the difference between having a Toyota and a Maserati.”
“Never use fabric softener,” he warned. “Bleach is the devil.”
After scrubbing the inside collar of a blue and white striped dress shirt with soap and a horse-hair brush, Richardson tossed it into his washing machine. Up next — his favorite task — ironing dress shirts.
Richardson maneuvered his Rowenta Steam Generator iron in and out of the buttons on an orange gingham Robert Talbott shirt. Within 60 seconds the shirt was crisp and pressed. Richardson smiled and puffed his chest out as he slipped the shirt through a hanger.
“I love clothes, I really love nice clothes, so I love to take care of them,” he said. “It gives me such a sense of satisfaction.”