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Laundry Experts Explain All The Ways You're Ruining Your Clothes

I learned how to do laundry at an early age. Mostly, I was trying to hide thongs from my nosy mom.

For me, the best solution was DIY laundering every item. I'm no longer hiding my undergarments from anyone, but I am trying to protect my clothes from fading and fraying.

Seeing as I'm probably going to have to do laundry for the rest of my life, I might as well get it right. To find out how to keep my clothes in their best shape, I tapped The Laundress founders Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd for some answers.

In 2004, the two fashionable environmentalists launched a line of eco-friendly fabric care products to keep their growing designer wardrobes camera-ready. Now, they have a flagship store in Soho where you can buy detergents and home cleaning products, as well as get tips on the best ways to keep your undies vibrant.

Don't waste money replacing your closet staples every season. Instead, use these high-end laundry tips to preserve your low-budget buys.

Below is all the stuff you're probably doing wrong.

You're not getting your hands dirty with your undergarments.

I'm a firm believer in the delicate cycle. Judging by the state of my ratty bra when I take it off at the end of the day (that's when I wear one), I wonder if the cycle's as gentle as our mothers led us to believe.

Either way, I'd rather throw my clothes in the washer than clean them by hand. However, Whiting and Boyd say laundering by hand is the gentlest way to preserve delicates.

“We hand wash bras, bathing suits and any delicate undergarments,”  they told me. “As well as items consisting of silk, wool or lace.”

To keep your bra in its fresh-from-Victoria's Secret condition, fill a washtub basin with lukewarm water and add two capfuls of delicate wash. Let your lingerie soak, then rinse with clean, lukewarm water. Towel dry your delicates without wringing, then hang to finish drying.

For those of us who refuse to spend our time toiling over a lukewarm sink, there's another option to keep your delicates intact.

“Machine washing on a delicate cycle with an item in a mesh bag is really great and efficient when caring for these items,” Boyd and Whiting say.

First, pretreat badly soiled areas of your lingerie with a stain remover, such as Stain Solution from The Laundress. Then, prepare to wash by setting the machine to the delicate cycle, adding the correct dosage of detergent.

They are pretty strict on one thing, though.

“Avoid the dryer. Always air dry to preserve color and elasticity,” they say. “Most damage happens in the dryer.”


You're dry cleaning all your clothes.

That “dry clean only” tag might be a lie.

Most items from mega-retailers don't need to be dry-cleaned, no matter what the tag reads.

Whiting and Boyd say “90 percent of your wardrobe is actually washable.” While your wool, cashmere, mohair and silk pieces seem like fabrics you'd rush to the nearest cleaners, you can hand- or machine-wash them at home.

In fact, they say dry cleaning may actually be harmful to your clothing.

“The absolute worst thing you can do, along with not air-drying clothing, is dry clean them,” they say, explaining how toxic chemicals are used during the dry cleaning processes. “Items that need to be dry cleaned are ones that have structure or facing, such as blazers with shoulder pads and neckties.”

Additionally, if you've got a leather or suede skirt that needs a deep clean, they recommend sticking to a dry cleaner you already trust.


You're not treating your wine and blood stains like a pro.

For every five glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, there's at least one spill on a blouse. It's not science, but I know I can't stay still when I've got a case of the wine giggles.

The ladies say you don't have to rush to clean up the damage, however. Just leave it be.

“The best thing to do is to enjoy a glass of wine and take care of it later,” Whiting says on her site. This is advice we can get behind.

Wine stains are tricky and need a little more TLC than blotting and water. Treat the spot with a stain solution, then presoak the garment in hot water for 30 minutes.

If your menstrual cup or tampon leaks, take care of that blood stain immediately.

“This is a very common stain for sure,” Boyd and Whiting say. “Best to soak sooner rather than later. Treat with a stain solution and soak in tepid water, then launder as normal.”

Now, go forth and make your clothing last forever.

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Niki McGloster

Contributor

Niki McGloster is a Maryland native living and Draking in NYC. Seriously, bios freak her out.
Niki McGloster is a Maryland native living and Draking in NYC. Seriously, bios freak her out.

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