I’ll just tell y’all flat out—washday isn’t my favorite. In my Champagne Style imagination, a truck pulls up to the house weekly and a uniformed laundry employee cheerfully collects my sacks of jeans, sheets, towels, shirts, and blouses, and whisks them off to laundry land. Once they’ve worked their magic, they leave last week’s clean and freshly pressed batch in neat, paper-wrapped packages tied up with strings on the front porch. When I come out of it, I realize I actually have to launder all that stuff myself. Although my first impulse is to dump the whole kit-n-kaboodle into the washer, pour some detergent over it, press the start button, and let the chips fall where they may, I’ve learned from harsh experience that different fabrics require different types of care. While the popularity of synthetics has made machine washing a convenient no-brainer, even some machine washables require a little forethought. Oh, and maybe reading the care labels. Did y’all know that all clothes these days have care labels inside that tell you how to wash them? Isn’t that something! With the help of this handy guide to the care instructions for different fabrics, your clothes will come out impeccably after every laundry day.
Cotton, Polyester, and Denim
These versatile fabrics can share the washtub with warm water and regular detergent. Cotton will shrink up a bit, so set the dryer to low and allow some extra time for your t-shirts, sheets, and towels to tumble dry. You might have to run a hot iron over the cotton things; or, you could just pretend your cotton clothes are actually expensive linen, and they’re supposed to look that wrinkly.
When it comes to jeans, there’s pretty much one rule: cold water! Even then, the color is likely to leach out after many washes. If you wash your whites with denim, you’ll end up with the blues.
I know y’all don’t want to hear it, but you have to hand-wash wool—unless you want roomy sweaters to come out as tiny crop-tops. Use cold water and a mild detergent soap made especially for wool and fine fabrics. Squish, don’t wring. While wool-cotton and wool-synthetic blends could go in the washer on cold-gentle, don’t put anything with wool in it in the dryer. Lay sweaters made of 100% wool out flat on a clean towel to air dry. The blends can line dry; that is if you still have a clothesline out back. However, make sure to keep them out of the sun, which could cause fading.
Your Fancy Stuff
My Champagne Style Bare Budget imagination has filled my dresser with cashmere (the fanciest wool I can covet, but can’t afford) and silk. These “fine” fabrics require extra special care. When it’s time to launder that special cashmere baby blanket you splurged on or to clean that knockout silk blouse that just has to last forever, handle with care. Hand-wash cashmere. The fabric care instructions on the silk will probably say, “dry clean only.” You can hand-wash silk in cold water with a mild detergent, but test for colorfastness and avoid the dryer at all costs.
Now excuse me while I head off to swill champagne and eat bonbons while I await the laundry chariot’s arrival—in my dreams!