Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dirty laundry.

I have a lot of clothes I hand-wash, including clothes that say "Dry Clean Only"* and I hand-wash a lot of the random thrift store clothes I buy that seem a little delicate or vintage. Only the problem is....over  the years, I have acquired a lot of clothes that I would put in the "hand-wash" category. And as someone who doesn't want to be hand-washing stuff regularly every week to stay on top of it, I usually procrastinate until I get a large pile of things that need to be hand-washed. And then I wait. And wait some more. And when I finally really want to wear something in the pile enough, I wash that and as many other things as I can fit on my drying rack and hanging in the shower. But even after that, it doesn't begin to put a dent in the load. And I am tired again of the effort of hand-washing, so I end up waiting a while before hand-washing some more. It is has been a bit of a sisyphean struggle.

But today, while trying to figure out the right way to hand-wash some vintage dresses I bought recently, I ran across the brilliant idea of putting delicate clothes in a pillow case and tying it up to go in the washer on delicate cycle with Woolite. So, I grabbed two white pillow cases and tossed one probably-should-be-dry-cleaned-white-vintage-dress in each.** And the verdict is: they came out of the wash and look perfect. Whiter, clean, and no damage. Amazing. I already have in another load in the washer including a couple of dark previously-hand-wash-but-now-pillow-case items. Whew. This short cut has me looking forward to less hand-washing and more time wearing fun clothes that previously spent long lengths of time in hanging out in the dirty "hand-wash" pile.

*For some of the "Dry Clean Only" clothes that seem to be at risk of damage with hand-washing (wool sweaters, etc), I use Dryell. I once worked at a dry cleaners, and since those four days of employment there, I am a firm believer in Dryell. My job at the cleaners was steaming and ironing ladies dresses, and I must say that dry cleaning does not get B.O. out.
**They were two for $15....I can not bring myself to pay to dry clean them and have not yet been able to find Dryell in Canada.


  1. Great post! I've recently strayed away from buying things that need to be hand washed so I don't ever have a lot anymore. Great idea with the pillow cases! I’ll do that next time I have a few things. :)

  2. Great idea. I also almost never use the dry cleaner, it's so expensive an toxic. A few months ago we upgraded our washer to a HE front loader, and I found that it's even easier, I just put everything (lingerie, etc.) at the delicate cycle and it comes out great. The only things I wouldn't wash in there (hence I'd hand wash) would be for instance items that have beading or lace on them. When I have to hand wash things, I just put them on top of a towel then gently roll it, in order to wick most of the moisture away (you probably knew that trick, right?)

  3. Hey! Thanks for reading my blog! Now that I'm on a suspended budget, this info is super helpful!

  4. The pillow case trick is the BEST!

  5. @all: I discovered that just tying a knot in the pillowcase doesn't hold every time, so then your clothes can "escape" the pillowcase. So I think using string or a ribbon or something might be more secure.

    @David: That is cool you have been able to minimize your dry clean only clothes. I have tried, but it seems like more and more women's clothes say dry clean only. Maybe the clothing industry gets payment from the dry cleaning industry to put those labels in? :)

    @Marie-Eve: Huh. Had not thought about the toxic angle. Good point! And makes me extra glad I only worked at that dry cleaners for 4 days!

    @Mrs T: You've been using this method? Cool! :) Any tips?? Like how to get the pillow cases to stay closed?

  6. @The Thirty-Something Bride: Yeah, I can't bring myself to spend what dry cleaners charge. Which is why I am not dry cleaning my wedding dress (we were married last October). I am actually considering washing it myself. In the bathtub. Or maybe not washing it? I already paid to dry clean it once, and that was more than the dress, so....def don't want to do it again. Anyhow, would love to hear any money-saving techniques you discover in the coming weeks! :)

  7. Thanks for the wonderful pillow case tip. I will have to try it out this weekend.

  8. awesome! I just stopped by your blog and am glad I did! i don't have a hand wash pile because I don't even buy those things! I know i'm too lazy and cheap to dry clean or hand wash - but I think I could do a pillow case!