Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore
By Patric Richardson with Karin B. Miller
(185 pages, nonfiction, 2021)
This book first caught my eye because of the bright, cheerful cover with a yellow background and an icon of a heart inside a front-load washing machine. I personally find laundry to be a real slog of domestic drudgery. It’s always there (whatever you’re wearing while you’re washing your other clothes will, itself, become a future load of laundry!), and it’s so doggone time-consuming. Little did I realize that a few (or several) tips from Patric Richardson could help me to reframe my view of this ubiquitous chore, and also go about my laundering more efficiently, effectively, and in a more environmentally friendly manner.
From garments to table linens to upholstery, whether it’s made of natural or synthetic fibers, a one-of-a-kind vintage cocktail dress or your favorite pair of faded blue jeans: the “Laundry Evangelist” Patric Richardson covers it here. Richardson relates one story that still makes my spine tingle: he once got a panicked phone call from a bride in his Kentucky hometown, a complete stranger, who was preparing to walk down the aisle when a toddler ran right into her dress carrying a black Sharpie with no lid. Richardson drove to the wedding venue, removed the marker stain “on the spot” (pardon the pun), and enabled this woman to say her vows with her head held high. Now, this is a man that I trust to help me do my laundry!
Richardson takes readers through every step of the laundering process, including sorting, washing, drying, stain and wrinkle removal, and treating/preventing fading and yellowing. His tips will help you do less work for better results, saving money and making your home greener in the process. Richardson advocates for air-drying, cutting out dry-cleaning altogether, and replacing commercial detergents with natural products that are healthier for our bodies and for the environment. He’ll help you select the wash temperatures and cycles that will reduce friction and wear on your garments, thus prolonging their lifespan (which, itself, is better for the planet and your pocketbook). I especially like that Richardson tells us the why and how behind his tips. (For example, using fabric softener on your towels will coat them in silicone, cutting their absorbency by up to 80% – making them fluffy and soft, but terribly inefficient as towels.) He even has relevant, customized information for folks who utilize laundromats.
Beyond all that, Richardson helps make the case that caring for our laundry is an act of love. He intersperses his practical tips with anecdotes about “Granny Dude” and the other women who helped to raise him and taught him how to launder. Clean, presentable garments can boost a loved one’s confidence for an important event. Laundering our family’s clothes is a hands-on way to demonstrate that we care about their wellbeing. Richardson reminds us, too, that access to clean clothing is a privilege that’s out of reach for many people globally: while I’m over here complaining about my bin of dingy T-shirts, there are people who would love to have that “burden” to deal with.
I’ll be perfectly honest: laundry is still not my favorite household chore. But … I find there’s something really beautiful about reframing my thinking to emphasize the positive aspects of the task at hand. Waiting for my sheets to line-dry? Why not make a cup of tea, queue up a classic film, and consider it “me-time”?
Use this book as a manual to completely overhaul your everyday laundry habits; take note of the extensive glossary of stain removal procedures; or simply check it out the next time your special interview suit, high school letter sweater, or heirloom cloth napkin needs a little attention. I think you’ll find it very helpful!
Visit Concord Public Library online at concordpubliclibrary.net.
Faithe Miller Lakowicz