Laundry got you out of sorts: Jot down a quick list of the garments that you wear regularly, including clothing for work, casual situations, and outerwear. Sort your entries into two columns, one titled “Easy Care” and the other “Special Handling.” Easy-Care items are those that can go into the general wash (award yourself a bonus point for each garment that’s stain resistant or wrinkle free). The Special Handling items require hand washing, delicate washing, delicate drying, or dry-cleaning. This exercise gives you a snapshot of how hard you’re currently working for your wardrobe. If more than 5 percent of the clothing you regularly wear falls into the Special-Handling category, it’s time to rethink the way you dress.
Unless you’re a hermit, you have a valid need for the occasional piece of fine clothing, even if caring for it requires special effort. The trick is to keep such items to a minimum nice showpieces that you mix in with a wardrobe that’s predominately simple to care for.
Easy care is not the only issue. For most people, enjoyment of life is inversely proportional to the cost of the clothing you’re wearing. If you spend the day in more than 500 worth of clothing, you’re wearing a mental body cast-perpetually concerned about messing up those clothes and hoping your finery is creating the right illusion. That’s self induced stress. Sure, we all may enjoy the occasional silk shirt or cashmere sweater. But the stress busting solution is to keep an eye on the balance and prevent your wardrobe from sapping too much of your physical and emotional energy.
So this is a chapter about adding “
sanity” to your personal agenda. In recent years, much of the working world has embraced Casual Friday-a good step. How about Casual Sunday through Saturday? Let’s reserve suits for dinner at the White House. Let’s dispense with men’s ties altogether-an absurd garment if there ever was one. You have better things to do with money than fritter it away on fabric finery-pay for your kids’ college education, pay down the mortgage, catch up on credit-card bills, or donate to charity, for instance. So let’s look at some specific ways you can restore some sanity to your life right now.
Buy With an Eye toward Easy Care:
To reduce the chore of cleaning your clothes, start by making wise purchases. If you consistently buy only easy-care clothing, over the months to come your laundry hassles-stains, wrinkles, delicate care, and dry cleaner trips-will be reduced by two thirds.
However, wrinkle- and stain-resistant fabrics have improved so much over the last decade that you can actually build an entire wardrobe out of such without looking like a dork. When you stray from the wrinkle- and stain-resistant clothing, make sure you’re selecting a fabric that’s known for easy care. When you assemble your wardrobe with this strategy, you’ll happily whistle your way through laundry day.
LABELS: THE CRUCIAL CHECKPOINT
To make sure you’re getting an ideal garment for your cheat at cleaning wardrobe, pay careful attention to the labels on the clothing you’re considering. “It’s amazing how many people don’t,” especially when they buy coats, jackets, and other outerwear. Both the hangtag dangling from the sleeve and the sewn-in fabric-care label offer valuable information about caring for a garment. Give first priority to wrinkle-resistant, stain resistant clothing. Also, the ideal label indicates that a garment can be both machine washed and dry-cleaned. This indicates that the manufacturer has tested both approaches in the laboratory. (On the care label, the international symbol that looks like a tub full of wavy water means “wash,” and a simple circle means “dry clean.”)
“I believe that the care of clothing begins the moment you begin to shop,”. “If you are a stain magnet, you really need to make sure that your clothes can be dry-cleaned and washed.”
Oddly enough, if a label only says “machine wash” you probably can dry-clean it as well. Such labels indicate that the manufacturer tested the fabric just one way in the lab. More testing costs the manufacturer more money, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission requires only one laundry instruction for each garment. So if you have a “machine wash” ski jacket that picks up a greasy stain from your car door, you need to take it to the dry-cleaner’s. Trying to wash out an oil-based spot at home could set the stain. (More about stains in a moment.)
If a garment’s label tells you that special care is required-say, dry-cleaning only or delicate washing-a little alarm should go off in your cheat-at-cleaning head. Is this piece of clothing really worth the bother or extra expense?
Another gift from modern technology is microfiber. This is a broad term for manmade cloth designed at the microscopic level to take on certain characteristics. Microfiber clothing, often a rayon and polyester blend, has an excellent drape and does not wrinkle easily.
Buy clothing in dark colors and prints, which hide stains better than light-colored clothing. Even if there’s a little residual stain left after you try to remove a spot, those traces are not likely to show on dark or patterned fabric. Also, neutral colors stand up to washing over the long haul, whereas intense colors fade more quickly. If you feel drab wearing subdued colors, perk up your wardrobe through the use of accessories such as belts, scarves, and jewelry.
Once you’ve found the perfect garment, it’s time to run off to the cash register, right? No, keep your credit card in your pocket for just 60 seconds longer. You want to be sure that the garment is really as “perfect” as it seems at first glance. Lay the clothing out on a counter or hang it up and conduct Boorstein’s six-point check to make sure it’s in good condition: hooks, zippers, hems, seams, snags, and buttons. Test all of the moving parts, making sure the hooks work and zippers don’t catch the fabric. Make sure that the hems and seams weren’t damaged by some other customer trying the clothing on. Check that all of the buttons are in place. Are there extra buttons in case you lose one?
If you’re buying a finer garment-maybe a nice blouse or a sport coat-also buy a sturdy, shaped, well-fitted hanger to go with it. A high-quality, contoured hanger will keep the garment looking its best. If you use an ill-fitting hanger, you could find a bizarre dimple in the middle of the shoulder, for instance, as you dress for your big presentation. Also, avoid the clip-style hangers that have a ridge where the clip bites the fabric. These will leave impressions in the cloth. Use only the type with a smooth clasping surface.
Managing Your Clothes:
You get your new easy-care duds home, you snip off the tags, and you set these garments free in that stream of clothing that circulates throughout your house. This is a stream that meanders from your dresser and closet, to the hamper, to the laundry room, and back again. How smoothly and easily that stream flows depends largely on you. Here are some corner-cutting clothing management techniques to help it along.
LET YOUR CLOTHES HANG OUT
When you get home from work, you want to take a little break, right? Well, your work clothes need a rest, too. So take off your shirt and pants, empty all pockets, put the clothes on hangers, and change into your jeans and T-shirt. Then hang those work clothes out in the open-on the back porch, on a doorknob, or in the bathroom, for instance.
Why? For a few good reasons. First of all, unless you got those clothes really soiled you can wear them to work two, three, or even four times before laundering. Don’t blush, Boorstein says. People who study clothing use had a focus group of white-collar types-doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, and the like-and you know what they found? These high-rolling professionals wear their dress shirts multiple times before washing them, particularly if they were wearing undershirts. So you can, too. Besides, over-cleaning your clothes is a kind of wear-and-tear in itself, so clean them only if necessary.
Here’s why you hang those work clothes out in the open for at least 1 hour: Your clothes have spent the day sucking up moisture, odors, chemicals from work, and smoke from that bar where you ate lunch. Would you rather have these clothes air out-or share all of those fumes with the other clothes in your closet?
Inspect the clothes under a bright light, front and back, top and bottom. If you find grime or stains-say, around the collar, cuffs, or elbows-then they need to be laundered. Perspiration stains in particular must be washed within 24 hours. If you were to put them back into the closet for a week or two, the soil would oxidize into a permanent yellow stain. Also, give your clothes the sniff test-yes, under the arms in particular. If there’s any odor, wash them. Otherwise, back into the closet they go, thus saving you some labor on washday.
STAINS MADE SIMPLE
You can find entire encyclopedias devoted to the subject of stain removal. However, if you stick to this incredibly simple rule you can’t go wrong: Water-based clothing stains go into your washing machine; oil-based stains go to the dry cleaner. In either case, wash (after pretreating) or dry-clean with in 24 hours.
If the stain is on your own clothing, you probably have a reasonable idea of whether that stain is beer (water based) or a movie popcorn simulated-butter-like substance (oil based). However, on children’s clothing it’s harder to be sure what kind of stain you have, particularly if your kids’ vocabulary never gets any more specific than “I don’t know,” “Nothing,” and “Stuff.” So here’s how to tell water- and oil based stains apart and how to deal with them.
WATER-BASED STAINS These almost always have a border around the perimeter that looks like a map. Examples: coffee, wine, and soft drinks. Apply a laundry pre treatment before washing. In most cases, the stain will come out fine in the wash at home. When washing, don’t forget which garments have stains-either run them through a separate wash, separate them from the other clothing in a mesh bag, or mark them with a safety pin. Remember that stains appear darker when they’re wet and often are invisible, so you might not be able to tell by looking at the wet garment whether the stain has come out. Because machine drying will set the stain, let these clothes air dry instead-laid out flat or draped over hangers-then inspect them. If the stain is still visible on the air-dried clothing, wash again (pretreat, presoak, wash in an all-fabric bleach).
If you have a persistent stain that pretreating and laundering will not remove, take the wet (or airdried) clothing to the dry cleaner, point out the stain, and tell them precisely what you did in an effort to remove it. Armed with this information, your dry cleaner has a better chance of getting the spot out. “It’s time to be totally up front.”
OIL-BASED STAINS These almost always have no outline, and the stain typically has been absorbed into the fabric. Examples: egg roll grease, gravy, and hamburger drippings. Oil-based stains rarely come out in the wash, and if you do try to launder them, they will leave a blotchy remnant that will affect the color of the clothing. In most cases, it’s worth the investment to dry-clean. If you insist on treating an oil-based stain at home, catch the stain fresh.
A myth-busting note: 70 percent of spot stain remover products say they remove all stains, which is impossible. Tide to Go® is one of the best stain removers on the market. Its label faces up to its limitations-specifying that it is not for use on oily stains.
SOCK MATCHES MADE IN HEAVEN
The next time you’re ready to buy some socks for yourself, go to your dresser, put every sock you have into a shopping bag, and donate them all to a preschool so they can make sock puppets. Yes, get rid of the seven pairs in various shades of tan, the three versions of navy blue, the green spectrum (khaki to deep forest), and the five brands of white athletic socks in various states of decay. Anything with a leprechaun, jack 0′ lantern, or Santa Claus on it-out it goes. Now you’re ready to go to your clothing store and buy the socks that you will need to get you through only one week, depending on his lifestyle, that may be something like this: four pairs of white athletic socks for sneaker casual and five pairs of black socks for dress. If you insist, add three pairs of navy. Most important: All socks of the same color must be of the same brand and style. For women, isn’t much different: several pairs of black trouser socks for dress and several pairs of white athletic socks for sports and sneaker casual, plus a few pairs in navy blue, gray, or brown (depending on the color of your dress trousers).
Why are we socking it to the sock drawer? Because owning 43 pairs of socks all in different styles and shades is a needlessly complicating element in your life. With Cawley’s simplified sock plan, that hideous matching-up chore on laundry day will vanish. Your clothing choice when you dress in the morning will be a no-brainer. And you’ll gain 2 cubic feet of space in your dresser drawer.
THE PANTYHOSE SECRET: DOUBLE-BAGGING Pantyhose are a cleaning nightmare for many women. Here’s streamlined system: Buy two mesh lingerie laundry bags, one to hang on a hook in your closet and one to hold all clean pantyhose in your dresser. When you need a fresh pair, pull one out of the bag in the dresser-the color you need should be easy to grab. At the end of the day, drop them into the bag hanging in the closet. On laundry day, put the entire bag holding dirty pantyhose into the washer and then the dryer. Then slide it into your dresser and transfer the other lingerie bag to your closet.
GET A HANDLE ON SANDALS Every chance you get, wear sandals-without socks. Every day that you do represents a pair of socks you didn’t have to sort, launder, dry, match up again, and deliver back to a drawer-an extra little toehold on sanity, if you will.
WASHING LESS IS MORE
Here’s welcome advice for anyone who does laundry: Do it less frequently. What most people think of as doing a normal wash actually is overwashing. Overwashing is not only a waste of time but has other undesirable effects as well: It puts more wear on your clothing, it uses up more detergent, and it increases the chances that detergent will be left in your clothes. “Unless you have a child who has been on the playground making mud pies, most laundry just needs to be freshened,” says Ingrid Johnson, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. If the clothing you’re going to wash has had everyday light wear-a day at the office, a shopping trip, or a day at school, for instance-use half the amount of laundry detergent that the package recommends and use the shortest, most delicate wash cycle available on your machine. “More than 90 percent of average soil comes out of most clothing within the first 2 minutes,”. On the other hand, if your kids have been playing football or your spouse was knee-deep in muck in the garden, fine-give those groundin-grubby duds the full laundry treatment: pretreating, presoaking, a full measure of detergent, and a nice long ride in the washing machine. There’s just no need to give all clothing this treatment on every washday.
TIPS FOR THE LAUNDRY FAIRY
Here’s advice for getting the clothes washing done with minimal effort.
TEACH YOUR KIDS RESTRAINT
Children typically follow a wearit- once philosophy and toss their clothes into the ham per whether or not they’re dirty, says Brown, the Cooperative Extension prof. Train them in the quick clothing inspection techniques described earlier. Impress on them that they’re lessening the household workload and protecting the environment (less use of energy and cleaning chemicals) when they wear clothing more than once.
GET THE DIRTY DUDS DELIVERED Make sure each member of the family has his or her own laundry basket for hauling clothes around. Let them know the specific day and time when laundry will be done. Anybody who wants the Laundry Fairy (that’s you) to magically wash their clothes will deliver a basketful to the laundry room by that deadline. If they forget, don’t wash their clothes. They won’t forget again. And you won’t have to forage around the house looking for clothes to wash. Photocopy “A Note from Your Laundry Fairy” and post it where everyone in the family will see it.
GET THE HANG OF DRYING When you’re getting ready to haul your dirty clothes out of the bedroom on laundry day, open up your closet door, grab several unused hangers, and toss them into the laundry basket, too. Those hangers will be ready to spring into action the moment you pull a shirt or a pair of slacks out of the dryer-and hanging up dried clothing immediately means you’ll keep wrinkles to a minimum. Install a hanging bar or rolling clothing rack in the laundry room just for this purpose. (Don’t hang clothes on plumbing pipes running across the ceiling-you’ll weaken the pipes’ joints.)
DO YOUR PART Wrinkle-resistant garments can’t do their wrinkle resisting all on their own-you have to help. Check the care label in the clothing. Typically, you’ll be told to wash the garment in warm water, dry at a low temperature, and take it out of the dryer right away. Smooth the fabric with your hands, and hang it up. Don’t expect razor-sharp creases. “It’s a relaxed look,” says Brown, “but it will be wrinkle free.”
PUT YOUR CLOTHES INTO REVERSE Turning certain garments inside out will help protect them in the washing machine. Turn dark clothing (black jeans, for instance) inside out to reduce fading and the pick-up of lint. Also turn clothes inside out if they have anything fragile on the outside, such as hooks or zipper pulls.
FILL IT FIRST When you’re starting up a load of laundry in a top-loading machine, first let the tub fill with water, then mix in the additives (detergent, softeners, bleach, and such). Make sure all of the chemicals are dissolved before you put in your clothes. Giving your clothing a direct blast of cleaner is courting disaster, “If you want to ruin a garment fast, put undiluted bleach directly on it.”
WASHER, WASH THYSELF Does your washing machine have bad breath? When you wash a load of clothing, billions of skin cells and other particles are left behind in the washer. To cure your machine of the resulting musty odor, run a quick wash cycle with no clothing at the end of the washday: Use the washer’s briefest setting and pour in 1;4 cup of bleach. An alternative: On washday, just launder your white undies as the last load, with bleach. When the cycle is done, leave the lid of the washer open until you use it again so the machine will dry out thoroughly.
For a super-deluxe cleaning of the washing machine, use a damp sponge on the under-side of the lid and the upper rim of the tub inside, particularly where water flows into the washer. Also, the holders for detergent and fabric softener can collect contaminants from clothing. Remove them and sponge them off in the sink.
WELCOME YOUR FAMILY INTO THE FOLD When you’re done drying a load of laundry, slide the laundry basket up to the door of the drier, pop the door open, and drag the dry clothes into the container. If there are any shirts, skirts, or pants in the load, hang them up quickly, or smooth them out, fold them, and return them to the basket. Either way, you’ll keep wrinkling to a minimum- beats the heck out of ironing them later. Just leave the socks, underwear, and such loose in the basket. Their owner can do his or her own folding and sock matching later. Leave each basket of clean clothing on the floor of the laundry room. Your family members will remember to pick them up when they run out of undies.
THE THREAT FROM “DOWN UNDER”
Speaking of undies, you might have to change your underwear. Oh, sure, you wear a fresh pair every day. What I mean is, some kinds of undies don’t lend themselves to good sanitation. If you have the wrong kind, toss them out.
What happens when you wash dirty underwear with other clothing? Yes, some of the bacteria get washed down the drain. However, a significant amount of bacteria are evenly distributed among all of the clothing in that wash load-enough bacteria to sicken the person handling these clothes. The typical warm wash and the typical drying time do not kill them all.
The solution? Wash all of your underwear separately from other clothing in hot water with detergent and bleach, and then dry them for 45 minutes, Gerba says. That will kill the bacteria and make handling your laundry safe. Unfortunately, some of the more fashionable and decorative kinds of underwear call for washing in cold water with no bleach. Throw them away or convert them to cleaning rags, and then buy some undies that will stand up to the rigors of sanitation. You might have to give up on the idea of looking like a fashion plate in your skiwies.
HANDY HAND WASHING
Hand washing bras, lingerie, and other fragile items is a breeze as long as you follow the number 1 rule: Don’t put much effort into it. “There’s no reason to overwash clothing that doesn’t require it,”. Many sweaters can be hand washed too, but make sure you take cashmere to a dry cleaner. Here’s his easy, no-fuss approach to hand washing:
Here’s an alternative to hand washing sweaters that will save you some time and effort:
TABLECLOTHS: TABLE THAT IDEA
The plates and glasses are tucked away into the dishwasher, the leftovers are packed into the fridge, the serving dishes are drying in the sink-side rack. Ahhh, you’ve just about recovered from your holiday feast-except for that battle-scarred white tablecloth. Ready to wrestle it into the laundry room?
Don’t even bother, says Boorstein. The simplest-and really the only-cure for a feast-stained tablecloth in the United States is to drop it off at the dry cleaner’s immediately. The reason is a sad tale of lagging technology. American washing machines are no match for the typical tablecloth stains-wine, gravy, butter, and wax, for instance. The water in typical American machines reaches only 110° to 120°F, but removing these stains requires water near the boiling point, at least 190°F. European washers have long had heating elements that boost the water temperature to the proper level. Front-loading washers with heating elements are a new item in the American market.
If you do try to launder that tablecloth at home without the temperature boost, here’s what will happen: You’ll wash the cloth. In the bad light in your laundry room, you’ll fail to notice the faint, blotchy remnant of the stains. You’ll fold the tablecloth and stickIit into a drawer, where those remnant stains will oxidize. When the next big feast day comes, you’ll pull the tablecloth out again, and then you’ll stomp around the room ranting about the stains that magically appeared. “Every household in America has a tablecloth with yellow or brown stains,”. So skip right over all of that angst, and make a quick trip to the dry cleaner part of your postfeast cleanup routine.
NOW THAT THEY ARE CLEAN
Sorting, folding, ironing, and storage. You work so hard for those darned clothes that they ought to cut you a paycheck every week. No matter. There are plenty of ways to cheat at the post washing stage.
TAKING TURNS IS LOADS EASIER
Washing your family’s clothing isn’t labor intensive. The tough part comes before and after washing-sorting all of the stinky clothing into color-coded piles and then, after washing, “unsorting” them back into each family member’s laundry basket. A weekly wash for a family of four could easily involve two loads of dark clothing, two loads of colors, two loads of lights, a load of towels, and a load of whites. How could you possibly cheat on laundering an inhibiting mountain of clothes like that?
Easy: The strategy is to peel the sorting out of the process. Just don’t wash everyone’s clothing on the same day. Pick a few different days of the week to wash clothes, and wash only one family member’s clothing on each of those days. On Monday, launder your teenager Julie’s clothes. On Tuesday, it’s your spouse’s turn, and so on. This makes the laundry sorting incredibly simple-each wash day, all clothing comes out of and goes back into only one basket. You’ll be able to get it all done in just a couple of loads. If the Laundry Fairy in your house is so astoundingly generous as to provide delivery service, each day’s clothing needs to go to only one person’s bedroom rather than several locations around the house.
YOU GOTTA KNOW HOW TO FOLD ‘EM
If you’ve played air guitar, then you’re going to have no problem playing “air laundress.” After washing and drying, do you fold each garment by laying it flat on a surface and then meticulously folding each sleeve or plant leg into place? Switch to this in-the-air quick-fold technique, and you’ll shave 20 minutes off of your laundry duty. Here’s how it’s done:
Pick up a newly dried shirt with its front facing you. Hold it with a hand in the middle of each shoulder .
With the shirt still dangling there in the air, turn your hands so that you fold each sleeve behind the shirt (along with a few inches of shoulder) .
Lower the shirt into the laundry basket so that the bottom half of the shirt hits the surface face down .
Drop the top half of the shirt onto the bottom half, thus folding the shirt horizontally across the middle.
Practice this technique, and soon you’ll be able to fold a shirt, T-shirt, or sweater in 1 second flat. Adapt the process to pants, skirts, and any other clothing-basically, you want to set a garment down only once, in its final resting place. No, this approach isn’t as precise as folding on a flat surface. Any family member who complains, however, gets to do his or her own folding.
CURES FOR SHRINKING AND STRETCHING
It’s a magic trick: Your teenager’s sweater goes into the washer a perfect fit but it comes out the right size for her 10-year-old sister. Here are easy methods for handling clothing shrinkage and the reverse malady-stretching.
If there’s a chance the sweater you’re washing will shrink, whip out a tape measure and mark down its dimensions (height, width, sleeve length, and such). When the sweater comes out of the wash, lay it out still damp over a dry white towel on top of the washing machine or on a laundry table. Check the dimensions you recorded. If the sweater shrank, gently “reblock” the sweater by pulling easily with your fingers until it’s back to its original size. Let it dry lying right there.
If you have a problem with your jeans shrinking, fold them the long way while they’re still moist-so the legs are flat against each other. Pull at the top and bottom ends to stretch the jeans into shape. If the waist comes out of the washer too snug, wrap the waist (still damp) around the edge of the laundry table and pull. You can do the same for the tight collar of a dress shirt.
There’s also an easy cure for stretched-out sweaters. Sweaters typically stretch in the neck, cuffs, or waist when you wear them, and stretching also can happen when a long garment gets wrapped around the agitator in the clothes washer. Just wash the sweater as usual. After washing, lay it out still damp on a dry, white towel. Then pinch, push, and squish the fabric together. The sweater will dry in that “tightened” condition and stay that way (until you stretch it out again).
To prevent stretching, pilling, and other damage, always wash your sweaters or long, stretchable garments in a mesh laundry bag, available in fabric stores. An alternative: Wash the garment in a pillowcase held closed with a thick rubber band.
PITFALLS OF PRESSING
You can measure your cheat-at-cleaning success by how often you have to fire up the iron. Every other day? You are a slave to your wardrobe . Once a month? Not bad. Forgot where your iron is? Now, that’s living!
If you insist on using an iron now and then-maybe you just can’t live without a 100 percent cotton dress shirt-then you’ll want to know how to keep the chore to a minimum. Here are the most common ironing mistakes.
LEAKING ALL OVER YOUR CLOTHES
It’s usually the older irons that leak, so get one that won’t. Read the manual and make sure you know how to operate that steam button. You might be flooding the steam chamber by pressing it too much.
SPITTING IMPURITIES ONTO YOUR CLOTHES Use distilled water in your iron unless your model is specifically designed for tap water. Otherwise, the steam function may spray staining minerals all over that blouse.
PRESSING TOO HOT When you’re ironing, more is not better-you’ll ruin the fabric. Use the heat setting that matches the fabric you’re ironing.
SOME IRONCLAD RULES
Here are other ways to satisfy your pressing needs with a minimum amount of effort.
WASH YOUR FACE The face of the iron, that is. Using a clean iron will reduce the odds of staining and yellowing. Put some baking soda into a bowl and add enough water to make a paste. Wipe the paste onto your iron’s face (while it’s cool) with a damp cloth. Turn the cloth over, and wipe the paste off. You also can buy iron-cleaning products in supermarkets and discount stores.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE COVERED Impurities and laundry products such as starch can build up on your ironing board and transfer to the clothes you think you’re cleaning. Use two ironing board covers. When one gets soiled, wash it and use the spare in the meantime.
GO EASY ON THE TRIGGER When you spray clothes for ironing, use a minimum of water. If you soak the garment you’re ironing, you’re more likely to sop up impurities from the ironing board cover.
BUY A BEEFY BOARD A high quality ironing board can make all the difference in the quality of your ironing. The problem is that a cheap ironing board will sometimes bend in the middle, causing the iron to dig into the fabric you’re ironing and cause a mark. Buy an ironing board that’s so sturdy it feels as if you could sit on it.
USE AN INTERMEDIARY Certain fabrics are sensitive to high heat and can turn shiny if you set the iron too hot. This applies in particular to acetate, gabardine, certain twills, and polished cotton. Use a muslin pressing cloth between the iron and the garment to protect such fragile fabrics. Or just turn the garment inside out and press the reverse side. Never iron velvet-period.
DO IT DAMP Pull your blouse out of the dryer while it’s still slightly damp and iron it right away. This way, your blouse won’t have to recover from dryer-induced wrinkles. “That will cut down on 50 percent of your ironing time,”.
It’s the rare person who feels as if he or she had enough closet space. As ruthless as you might be about weeding out unused or unnecessary garments in your wardrobe, it seems like there’s never enough rail space for everything you want to hang. You already know the basic solution: Use other locations as temporary storage. You might rotate seasonal items in and out of your bedroom closet, you might fold up clothes and store them in containers, or you might permanently park infrequently used garments (an evening gown or tuxedo) in some remote part of the house. But there’s more to storing clothing than just shifting them from one spot to another. There are precautions to take and a few myths to be busted.
CLEAN IT FIRST Before you store any clothing, first make sure every item has been washed or dry cleaned. Always empty the pockets.
BAG THE BAG Always remove the dry cleaning bag-the clothes need to breathe. Leave those little paper shoulder covers on-they’ll keep some dust off.
TUCK THEM IN When you’re storing clothes in a remote closet, line the garments up on a hanging rail and throw a clean, unbleached sheet over them all. This will keep dust at bay and protect them from fading. (Yes, even low light will have some effect over time.)
FORGET THE MOTH BALLS Avoid mothballs. They leak, you can’t remove their odor from clothing, and they’re toxic.
SURRENDER THE CEDAR You know that time-honored notion that cedar products protect your stored clothes? To protect your clothes, the cedar must have a strong, pungent odor, but 99 percent of cedar chests and drawers in use do not do any good because they’ve lost that scent. Restoring that odor requires reconditioning of the wood, which no one is going to bother with.
HIRE IT OUT If you use a dry cleaner’s storage service, they will clean and store clothing in a climate-controlled facility. Before you do this, however, make a computerized list of all of your items (year after year, you’ll be able to edit the list on your computer). Check your home insurance to make sure that it covers off-premises storage. The bottom line is that laundry, like dishwashing, is a cleaning duty that just never quits. It accounts for a large percentage of the time you spend cleaning every week, and as with many large tasks there is no single way to cut corners. The cheating lies in multiple techniques that whittle away at this monster that has taken over your life. You might not even realize how onerous the laundry has become until you feel the relief that comes with wise buying, clever management, and sawy dirt busting. It’s time for a little laundry revolution in your home. So get going-you have nothing to lose but your chains … and your stains.
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