Book Break: Laundry Love

Those who read my blog regularly know that book-related posts often include the caveat that this book might not be for everyone. In the case of one my latest reads, Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson and Karin B. Miller, it’s definitely true, though not for the usual reasons. There is no dark or objectionable content, nor even a discouraging word, from start to finish.

However, I did make the mistake of discussing this book in mixed company exactly one time. The women were amused and ribbed me gently. The men in the room rolled their eyes and mocked me openly, then worked to change the subject. Apparently a book about doing laundry in more economical and environmentally friendly ways, written by a fellow with a deep love of vintage fashions, disco balls, and stain removal is, in fact, not for everyone.

I heard Patric Richardson, the so-called Laundry Evangelist, on a radio show a few months back, talking about removing any stain from any fabric with simple tools and products. Forgive me: I’m a sucker for anyone with deep, practical knowledge on a useful topic. I enjoy the save-my-Thanksgiving-dinner shows and the lady who solves baking problems using scientific explanations—and I used to love the Car Talk guys, who could troubleshoot an automobile engine from any era, sight unseen, using the owners often comical descriptions of its sounds and symptoms.

Additionally, I like to cook, but lack the natural grace and precision to do so neatly. As a result, I’m always staining my shirts and pants. And finally, for as long as Jodi and I have been married, I’ve struggled with itchiness and allergy-like symptoms often correlating to a change in laundry detergents, products, or processes. My skin does not like most laundry products.

Richardson has spent his entire life learning about textiles and how to clean and care for them. He explains why the way we’ve learned to do laundry often doesn’t make sense for modern fabrics, dyes, and machines; why stains require different approaches based on substance and material; why dry-cleaning is completely unnecessary; and most importantly, why the more we wash our clothes, the less clean they feel. And he provides simple solutions to solve these problems, including a step-by-step guide to removing many common household stains.

I liked the book, and I’m intrigued by his methods. By way of recommendation, I’ll share a brief account of how I’ve put them to use.

A few weeks back, Trevor texted from seminary. The dry air coupled with his allergies had combined to cause a couple of spontaneous bloody noses, which stained two white dress shirts and his black suit jacket and pants. He wanted to go shopping the next time he came home to replace his stained clothes. I told him I was reasonably sure I could get the stains out.

It was about two weeks before he brought them home, and the blood had soaked through his shirts and dried as dark, rusty brown splotches. On his suit, it appeared as dark streaks wherever a drop fell.

The shirts were definitely a challenge, but I repeated Richards’ process five times, and they came out as white and good as good as new. (I suspect that if I had let the stains soak in oxygen bleach a bit longer to begin with, I wouldn’t have had to repeat the process as often.) The suit seemed like a challenge: labeled dry clean only and made with a combination of unnatural fibers, it was hard to know what would be safe to try. But the shape of the streaks of blood suggested that it hadn’t actually soaked into the fabric, so I used a small laundry brush and cold water to “loosen” them up, then a white washcloth to blot them away.

Trevor was back in business.

I recommend the book wholeheartedly, even if it puts my “man-card” at risk.

An additional note: Richards is a Minnesota transplant, who runs Laundry Camps and owns a vintage clothing boutique at Mall of America. His co-author, Miller, is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor. Small world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s