With a lot of readers returning to the office — or expecting to return soon — it seems like a great time to ask this question: How often do you wash your workwear and other clothing?
Do you throw everything in the hamper every day, no matter what? Or do you hang up and air out certain items that you’ve worn but might not need washing or dry cleaning yet, such as blazers or cardigans? Do you have a certain area of your closet where you put these “half-dirty” clothes?
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We thought we’d share some advice on washing clothes from Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House — an extremely thorough and helpful book! The author, Cheryl Mendelson, who went to Harvard Law and has a Ph.D. in philosophy, did eight years of research to write the 800-page book, which was published in 1999. Sure, 20 years later, we’re more likely to google anything cleaning-related, but it’s also nice to have all the info you could possibly need in one book. (OK, I admit that before writing this post, I hadn’t cracked open my copy in years — but still!)
Psst: some of our favorite books on cleaning:
These are some of Mendelson’s tips for reducing your weekly laundry and taking good care of your clothes:
1. Don’t automatically put lightly-worn outer layers in the hamper — instead, spot-clean them if necessary and let them air out before putting them away.
2. Consider wearing camisoles, slips, or other items to keep outer layers clean. (Readers, do you ever wear slips? I have a couple ancient ones in my dresser and somehow can’t bring myself to get rid of them, even though I never wear them. Why?!)
3. Wash clothing within a week of wearing. Sweat, food stains, etc., can weaken, fade, and discolor fabrics if left for too long. (Now, I haven’t written a book about keeping house, but my simple rule is “Laundry day is when you’re running out of — or have already run out of — underwear.” Not ideal!)
4. Wipe down wool and synthetic fabrics using a “barely damp, white, nonlinting cloth” and put them away when they’re 100% dry.
Two more useful resources are this guide from Real Simple on how often to wash certain items of clothing and bedding and this MarthaStewert.com article on cleaning your washing machine. (Yeah, I totally clean my washing machine… yep.)
Psst: these are some of our favorite “dry-clean at home” and other laundering products…
So, let’s discuss! If you like, copy and paste the list below into a comment and let us know how often you wash your workwear and other clothes — either at home or at the dry cleaner:
Speaking of bras, while writing this post I remembered this comic by Sarah Andersen of about how often — or, uh, how NOT often — some of us wash our bras… So, hey, no judgment here if your bras seem clean enough but you can’t remember how many times/days you’ve worn them since you washed them. (While we’re on the subject, I highly recommend these bags for washing bras on the hand wash cycle — they come in regular and large sizes. They’re great for washing masks, too.)
A few more things to discuss: Do your washing habits change with the seasons, or do you clean your clothes just as often when it’s cooler outside and you’re not sweating as much? Do you have a rule of thumb for each type of item, or do you just wash what seems/looks dirty? Are there any laundry products that you especially like and would recommend?