I love everything in my closet; I try to make a point of not buying anything I can’t see myself still wearing in a year. Or two. Or, in some cases, 15. (I have a cashmere twinset that I bought in 1997. Still wearing it! Go me.)
In order to make things last, I hand wash a majority of my wardrobe — everything from pricey pieces, like my cashmere sweaters and washable silk blouses to super cheap shorts and tees. Why bother? Because no matter what the price point of my clothes, I want them to last as long as possible, with no shrinking or fading or excessive wear and tear.
These shorts do not do in the washing machine. Ever.
Things I make a point of hand-washing: Cashmere sweaters, bras, anything I don’t want to accidentally shrink, anything that would need to be ironed if it went in the washing machine (hand washing leaves things less wrinkled).
Things I do not hand wash: Running clothes, underwear, basic workhorse tees, anything belonging to my husband and children (although my husband’s fancy pants cycling kit doesn’t go in the dryer and he sends his dress shirts to the laundry because they do a better job, of course). Swimsuits — mine and theirs — go in the washing machine, in a lingerie bag, but get line dried. My jeans also go in the machine, inside out, and are hung to dry. Everyone else’s jeans? In the dryer, baby. Always.
(The dryer actually does the most damage to your clothes. Where do you think all that lint comes from? It’s your clothes, slowly disintegrating! Which is just sad.)
I typically do my hand-wash laundry once a week, often early in the morning when no one else is awake yet. It takes me maybe 40 minutes to launder everything I wear during the week. Here’s how I hand wash, in five easy steps.
What you will need: sink, detergent, towel. That’s it!
Step One: Clean the sink.
I hand wash my clothes in the kitchen sink, because it’s big enough to easily accommodate multiple pieces at one time. And since I am totally crazy a little bit Type A fairly neat, the sink is essentially always clean, so prepping it for a load of washing is simple; I just scrub it out with dish detergent and hot water and rinse with cool water. Ready to wash!
Step Two: Fill the sink with cold water and gentle detergent.
For everyday pieces (shorts, pants, dresses, etc) I use Woolite; for cashmere sweaters, I use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. I pour a little detergent under the running water and let the sink fill up. While the sink is filling, I sort the laundry by color. I have a basket that lives in my closet and just holds my hand-wash pieces — that way they don’t get mixed in with the rest of the laundry by mistake.
Step Three: Toss in the clothes.
I wash like colors together, to prevent bleeding. If anything needs to be pretreated, I take care of it before I toss it in the water. I make sure each piece is totally waterlogged by squeezing gently — no wringing, of course, because that stretches the fabric. Then I set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes and go do something else. Like browse Pinterest. For example.
Step Four: Drain and rinse.
Exactly like it sounds: Drain the sink, and rinse garments until the water runs clear. Then gently squeeze out any excess water. Again, do not wring — seriously, that’s so bad for the material. Give your clothes a little love and they will love you back. Or something like that.
Step Five: Blot excess water with a towel.
This is the tricky part (and it’s really pretty easy): Spread a clean, dry towel on a flat surface (I use my kitchen counter) and lay your laundry flat on top of it, one piece at a time. Roll each piece in the towel and gently squeeze the roll to absorb any extra water. DO NOT WRING. (That should be my mantra, yes?) Unroll the towel and either hang or lay flat to dry, depending on the garment. I hang dresses and heavy shirts, and lay everything else out flat.
And that’s it!
To make hand washing even easier, I carry a Tide To Go pen with me at all times to deal with stains on the spot, which makes the actual washing that much easier. Those pens are the best thing to ever happen to your closet. Get three, now, and keep one with you at all times. Seriously.