Laundry is a chore that most people love to hate. But with a few of Patric Richardson's sanity-saving tips, it doesn't have to be.
First things first: Don't let the laundry pile up. "I wish I could say I did it all in one day," he said. "That would make me sound all Martha Stewart-like."
Instead, Richardson spends about two to three hours on laundry broken up throughout the week.
To really get the party started, you have to set the mood. Richardson recommends a disco ball, and music or a movie. The rest of his pre-wash rituals include: Super-sort your clothes (batching colors together really does matter), pre-treat those stains, turn everything inside out, and remember to button, zip and tie to keep garments from snagging.
So far, Richardson's tips make good sense, but what he has to say about washing and drying might raise some eyebrows. No bleach? Aluminum foil in the dryer? Before you throw in the towel and resume your laundry-hating ways, allow Richardson to explain the method to his madness.
1. Add liquid gold. Richardson prefers the Laundress products, a collection of specialty detergents that has earned a cult following for its mantra that "90 percent of items labeled 'dry clean only' are actually washable." Richardson's boutique, Mona Williams, is the only place locally that carries the entire line. "It's like laundry crack," he said.
2. Say no to chlorine bleach. There are reasons for bleach (to disinfect), but the chemicals are tough on your everyday whites and can actually be the reason your clothes are going from ultra bright to dingy white. Did you know that white fabric is actually dyed to be white? When your whites take on a drab color, it's because the fiber is going back to its natural color. To brighten, add a bluing agent to the wash cycle instead — just be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions or you'll color your clothes blue.
3. Get to know the express cycle. Unless your clothes are extra dirty, there's no need for the heavy-duty cycle. The less time clothes spend tumbling around, the longer they'll last. Dark fabrics need the shortest possible wash. Medium-color fabrics need a little longer. Whites need the regular cycle because they need an extra rinse.
4. Turn up the heat. Since you're cutting down on the time your clothes are in the washer, you'll want to wash them in hot water. This seems counterintuitive, but most detergents don't work in cold water, especially during the winter when the water will be that much colder by the time it makes its way through your frigid Minnesota pipes and into your washer.
5. Check for stains. If you pre-treated a stain and it didn't come out, stop right there. "Drying sets stains, so just don't do it," Richardson said. "Soaking in cold water will get out just about anything. Sometimes it takes a few days."
1. Break up with your fabric softener. This goes for the sheets and the liquid stuff. Fabric softener puts a coating on your clothes. Then when you spill something on your shirt, the stain gets caught between the coating and the shirt, making it more difficult to remove. Fabric softener also causes towels to lose their absorbency. If they start to lose their softness, wash them with a cup of white vinegar (no detergent), then run them through again on a regular cycle with detergent.
2. Use tennis balls to speed up drying and fluff your laundry. Use aluminum foil balls to remove static. Not only is this safe, but you can use the same foil ball for 60 loads. Just crumple foil into the size of a tennis ball and toss it in.
3. Consciously uncouple with your dryer. Hang or lay flat to dry as many things as possible. Throw the rest in the dryer. When there's a few minutes left on the dryer cycle, take your slightly damp clothes and toss them into the dryer. This will create some steam and removes wrinkles like magic.
4. Invest in a quality iron and a steamer. Richardson uses the Rowenta Steam Generator, an all-in-one system. And always use a pressing cloth when you iron dark colors.
5. Fold or hang. Did you know folding laundry for 30 minutes burns 75 calories?