Showing Your Clothes Some Love – Part 2

Trusty Maytag

Trusty Maytag

First, I wrote about buying clothes that will last. Now I’ll write about the “lasting” part – because there’s not much point in neglecting and mistreating our good clothes. Garments have to be protected, cleaned, stored and repaired. Sad, but true!

I have a basic work wardrobe of 5 outfits and a few mix-and-match pieces. My job is not especially dirty but I do carry stacks and bins of books, crawl under desks to access computers, work with ink and toner cartridges and newsprint, etc. So my work clothes are barely semi-formal. But if I continued wearing the same clothes for the evening after work, I’d do them in! As soon as I get in the door, I change out of my “work clothes.” The main reason is that I don’t want to get cat hair on them. Next, I don’t want to stain them while cooking dinner and cleaning up. So I spend my evenings in sweatpants, T-shirts and hoodies. If I am going out – even to the grocery store – I switch out the sweat pants for jeans.

Creative savv wrote about this yesterday!

I have two sets of similar clothing that are older and unfit for other purposes. These are used for gardening, mowing the lawn, and painting. It is tempting to wear everyday “home” clothes, but I stop myself because I might ruin them and have to replace them. I’d rather spend money on other things!

I wear an apron for messy cooking (especially spaghetti sauce or frying anything) and I use a cloth napkin at meal times, too. Nevertheless, I am always getting food stains on my clothes, especially at work when I have lunch. I always blot them and rinse them right away, even if it means working with a wet spot on my clothes – it’s no worse than a stained spot! Then, as soon as I get home, I either soak it or spot treat it.

One winter hazard is that my clothes get dirt and salt on them in the mornings when I clean the frost and snow from my car, so I try to notice and brush them off right away. When I lived on the prairies, there was a lot of blowing dust, and clothes had to be brushed off, shaken out, or washed more. I remember once it even “rained mud” – dust in the air was brought down by rain, leaving muddy spots on everything!

So after a hard day of abuse, clothes need cleaning! However, there is no doubt that washing and drying cause as much wear-and-tear on clothes as wearing them. As I understand it, every time clothes are washed or tumble dried, the fibres expand and contract. In addition, the agitator in a top-loading machine causes wear, and so does the tumbling action in either a top-loader or a dryer. The easy solution is: don’t wash your clothes so much! I wouldn’t dream of judging how often anyone else should wash their clothes. They need it when they need it!

Not ready to wash yet

Not ready to wash yet

Someone else's clothes not ready to wash yet

Someone else’s clothes not ready to wash yet

It would be great to reduce washing for the following reasons:

  • Clothes were left on the floor – a floordrobe is not cool!
  • Clothes were not put away and are covered in pet hair
  • Worn and unworn clothes are mixed together so they all have to be washed
  • Clothes were left in the washing machine too long and need to be washed again
  • Clothes were left out on the line too long, were exposed to dust, soot, etc. and need to be washed again
  • Clothes were left in the laundry basket for a few days and are too wrinkled to wear

I have been guilty of all of the above but I’ve pretty much exorcised those habits!

As to how to clean clothes, that is an art in itself. Whether you wash clothes at home or go to a Laundromat, each washing machine is distinct, water can be hard or soft, and each laundry detergent, soap mixture and rinsing agent is a little different. Nevertheless, you have your own techniques!

My T-shirts, with room to breathe

Someone else's T-shirts a little crammed

Someone else’s T-shirts a little crammed

Here are mine:

  • I take a day to do laundry, rather than doing a load every day or two: personal preference.
  • Rom and I both have enough clothes to wear for a week or more so we don’t have to do laundry mid-week.
  • If I buy something new, I always wash it before I wear it. Usually separately, in case it isn’t colour-fast. I have had brand new clothes that fade, run, or twist out of shape on first washing. If I follow the washing instructions exactly, and the item is no longer wearable, I return it. I consider this a manufacturer defect and I haven’t been denied a refund yet.
  • I don’t put damp clothes into the hamper until laundry day – I air them out first. Otherwise: mouldy odour!
  • I set aside items that have to be washed on a delicate cycle or hand washed.
  • I do up fasteners:  zip zippers, button buttons, and hook hooks! Otherwise they snag the other clothes.
  • I notice any loose buttons or trim and perform emergency measures.
  • I check everything for stains and pre-treat them.
  • I turn some clothes inside out to protect the finish.
  • I sort clothes by colour. I have pink T-shirts that were washed with black pants. They are still pink, but a dingy grey-pink!
  • Because I use a dryer, I sort clothes by weight. I do two loads of dark-coloured clothing every week. Jeans, sweats, sweaters and socks are dried separately from shirts, T-shirts, and pyjamas, which only take half the time to dry. If I have smaller loads, I just take the lighter-weight things out of the dryer earlier.
  • I look at anything that was pre-treated for a stain before it goes into the dryer. If the stain is not completely gone, the heat from the dryer will set it in.
  • When I take clothes out of the dryer, I snap them. Do you do that? It helps to get wrinkles out before folding. Or so I believe. I should probably do a controlled experiment to see if this is true 🙂
  • I fold, hang and put away clothes before any wrinkles set.
  • If clothes are packed too tightly in drawers or closets, they will need to be ironed. That won’t do!
  • I complete any remaining repairs: sew buttons, reattach trim, repair drooping hems, and clip loose threads.
Do you have one of these? Can the guys in your house sew a button?

Do you have one of these? Can the guys at your house sew a button?

Voilà, c’est bien fini!

What are your tips and tricks?


  1. Great tips. I would never put something damp in the clothes bin, floordrobes are definitely not cool wish someone could have convinced by teen aged boys of that. And yes, I do snap my clothes, one of those things I learned growing up as the first step to proper folding.

  2. Oh you’ve inspired another post!! Actually, I discovered the Manly Housekeeper last night, in his post on washing he was about to embark on 7 loads in a day – that is a LOT of clothes (or a very small washer?). So I’ll answer more there. But… I have trained the BF to not use the ‘floordrobe’ option at my house – between a long ottoman, an ornamental chair (as in, no one sits in it) and railings around 2/3 of the room, surely it can be off the floor! Interestingly, I had no issue with clothes on floor until the previous BF. Funny what rubs off!

  3. Thanks for this post, I found it very informative, especially after reading Lili’s one the other day. I think I need to start changing out of my clothes when I get home, or at least wearing an apron to cook (and eat!) because my clothes are getting too dirty and needing to be washed too often.

    I usually pre-treat oily stains with dishwashing liquid, since they don’t tend to come out with soap nuts, and I dry everything on a rack in my room. Then when it’s dry I pile it all on my bed, fold everything and put them away. I actually enjoy folding clothes.

    And you’ve reminded me, I need to sew a button on a pair of shorts. I can do it well enough, as long as it’s not in an obvious place. But yeah, basic sewing comes in very handy when you can repair clothes instead of replacing them.

  4. Fiona

    We are dreadful clothes conservators in this house; I badly need to follow this to the letter and create some new routines!

    • Now and again I wish certain items would get damaged or wear out so I would be forced to buy a new one. But of course I get annoyed when something happens to clothes I like. So maybe I should conserve selectively 🙂

  5. The ‘change into house clothes’ routine was impressed on me from the time I can remember – could have been because we were that well off so ‘good clothes aka going out clothes’ were just that – or it could have been because my mother wasn’t into washing and ironing lol There were pinnies and napkins to use and oh dear did we know about it if we dared to spill something down our fronts !! Don’t laugh but even now as an adult I use my napkin as a bib even in the most ‘posh’ restaurant of them all ‘cose I know I’m more than lilkely to spill something down the front!
    So that’s the way it was with our children – everyday clothes for well everyday, better ones for going out and of course school uniforms that were taken off as soon as they walked in the door.. Not sure if they follow that rule with their own children tho!
    Good post for reinforcing rights and wrongs and all ideas in between lol
    Take care

  6. Pingback: Laundry routines | livetolist

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