The First Principles of Laundry: Part Two

670023 Image 5 washing machine

Here are the final six First Principles from my new book. Thanks to Keesha Freskiw for her sweet illustrations. Picking up from last week, these are a few ideas to smooth the wrinkles in your laundry path:

6.     Check the care label. Care labels are to clothes what the owner’s manual is to your car. Okay, perhaps your car is a little more complicated, but both have basic maintenance guidelines and paying attention to them is a great starting point if you want your clothes and linens to last. Care labels can help you avoid ruining a favourite shirt or fading your bright pink towels, not to mention saving you time and money in buying replacements.

7.     Embrace the right tools for the job. This follows from Rule 6. That includes choice of detergent, water temperature, drying method and so on.

8.     When in doubt, hand washes cold. If you love that delicate white lace blouse, then treat it with the gentlest washing method available: the manual one. Don’t take unnecessary risks with things that are precious to you.

9.     Embrace regular maintenance of your laundry equipment. Obviously if you are using a coin-op laundry, it isn’t your equipment per se, but you should still get into the habit of cleaning the lint filter on the dryer, and understand that the machines themselves do need to be looked after if they are going to serve you well. This rule applies to a lot of things in life, like spouses, cars, friendships and houses. (See A Rat’s Nest in the Dryer Vent for more on maintenance.)

10.  Be kind to the environment. Use the hot water cycle and the dryer thoughtfully: both consume electricity at a voracious rate. You don’t need to reach for harsh chemicals or fancy products to manage stains either. Lemon juice and vinegar work wonders on sweat marks, baking soda boosts washing power and hydrogen peroxide can make ball point pen stains vanish.

11.  Forgive yourself: you’re not a machine. I wrote this list in a Kitchener hotel room during three days of Cheerleading Provincials. When we arrived home late on a Sunday night, I unpacked our bags on the floor of the laundry room and cracked open the lid of the washing machine lid to start a fresh load. What did I find? A bunch of towels half-dried and spun-plastered to the sides of the washer. I sighed, and closed the lid and then I noticed the little shadowbox on the wall above the machine. It was a gift from my sister in law, Pego, with a miniature washing machine and the motto: What if success is getting the clothes from the washer to the dryer before mildew sets in? We do our best, and some days our best is kind of stinky. That’s okay. There’s always the next load

Illustration courtesy of K. Freskiw (c) 2015

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