Ironing gratifies the senses. The transformation of wrinkled, shapeless cloth into the smooth and gleaming folds of a familiar garment pleases the eye. The good scent of ironing is the most comfortable smell in the world. And the fingertips enjoy the changes in the fabrics from cold to warm, wet to dry, and rough to silky. There is nothing hke keeping the hands busy with some familiar work to free the mind. You can learn Italian while you iron, as a friend of mine did, or you can simply think.
What to Iron
Untreated cotton and linen woven fabrics almost always need ironing to look their best. Outer clothing made of such fabrics is a top ironing priority. Tablecloths, napkins, curtains and draperies, doilies, dresser scarves, and similar decorative pieces often do not look good without ironing, and since they exist at least half for appearance’ sake, it is worthwhile to iron them.
Sheets, pillowcases, and flat-woven dish towels are a different matter. They need not be seen, and they do not function better if ironed. If you are short on time, you should eschew the luxury of ironed sheets and dish towels. But they are indeed luxuries to enjoy when you can. Crisp, smooth sheets dramatically change the aesthetic appeal of your bed and heighten your sense of repose. Pretty ironed dish towels make the kitchen look cared for when they are hung out, and, when you change them following a morning or evening cleanup, they provide a ready symbol of freshening and renewal. Such things enlarge the vocabulary of your housekeeping, give you more attractive things to say with it. On the practical side, a newcomer to the kitchen can be sure that an ironed towel is fresh.
You need not—and should not—iron terry-cloth towels and washcloths; small rugs and mats; diapers; mattress, crib, and bumper pads; comforters or other filled articles; sweatpants and sweatshirts; spandex stretch tights and other stretch athletic wear; seersucker; or pile fabrics such as velvet and chenille. Some people like to iron men’s cotton knit underwear, woven cotton boxer shorts, and women’s knit and synthetic-fiber bras and panties. This is fine for those who like both the work and the result, but unnecessary.
You may be satisfied with the way permanent-press and wrinkle-resistant clothes and linens look with no ironing at all, but these articles vary in just how wrinkle-resistant they are. Wrinkle-resistance may also decrease after many launderings. Permanent-press treatments are sometimes more accurately called “durable press” because they actually last through about fifty launderings. Many permanent-press clothes and linens look better after some touch-up ironing. You must consult your own priorities and tastes as well as the appearance of the garments to determine whether and how much you wish to iron them.
Sprinkling Clothes and Linens
Permanent-press and synthetic fabrics sometimes iron well when dry, and, if they do not, a steam iron will supply all the moisture necessary. These fabrics usually need little or no ironing anyway. When some smoothing is desirable, their thermoplasticity makes them responsive to the warmth of the iron alone.
Untreated cottons, rayons, and silks must be slightly damp to iron out properly. They should feel as though you had left them outside overnight in summer and they became damp with dew Linen should feel even more damp. The easiest way to get things this damp is to remove them from the dryer or line before they have gotten entirely dry. But this is not always convenient to do. When it is not, you can render them damp either by using a steam iron or by sprinkling them with water.
Sprinkling clothes is a little more trouble, but cottons and linens are far easier to iron and look far better after sprinkling than steam ironing alone. When fabrics are properly sprinkled, the moisture has a chance to penetrate the fibers and spread uniformly throughout the fabric. Steam from the iron does not penetrate so deeply or so uniformly.
The best procedure is to sprinkle clothes the night before they are to be ironed so that the moisture permeates the cloth. If you cannot do this, allow at least an hour before you will iron. Clothes that will sit overnight before ironing should be placed in a tightly closed plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator or someplace else cool; otherwise there is danger of mildew. If they will not be ironed within twenty-four hours, put them in the freezer. Chilled, sprinkled fabrics make for smooth and pleasant ironing.
What Happens Inside Your Washing Machine.
The type of automatic washing machine that most people in this country have in their homes is a top-loading machine that “agitates,” or churns or jerks the clothes back and forth by means of a post in the center of the tub in order to wash and rinse them. As it drains the wash and rinse waters, it spins the clothes at ever-increasing speeds until the great “centrifugal” force of the spinning presses out so much water that the clothes do not drip, i.e., are “damp dried” when they are finally removed.
Other types of machines, those that tumble rather than agitate clothes, are growing in popularity. These have no agitator post and clean clothes by tumbling them in a turning barrel while causing sudsy water to be sloshed and, sometimes, sprayed through them. Different versions of tumbling, sloshing, and spraying are used by the various tumbling machines. Like agitators, tumblers spin the clothes to squeeze the water out of them until they are damp dried. Although most tumblers have a door on the front instead of a lid on the top and thus are called “front-loaders,” there are several “hybrids” that use a variety of nonagitating washing mechanisms but have a lid on top like agitators. Both front-loading and hybrid tumblers are called “high-efficiency” (HE) washing machines, for reasons explained below. Both types of machines are referred to here as “tumblers” or “high-efficiency machines.”
Which Machine for You?
The increasing variety of types of washing machines available and features offered means that it is now more difficult to decide which machine is right for your household. Although front-loaders have been around almost as long as top-loaders, most people in this country have lived only with top-loading washers and are not familiar with many of the advantages and disadvantages of tumblers. (In Europe, the opposite is true.) For the average person, top-loaders offer two strong advantages: you can load top-loaders without bending and straining your back, and, more importantly, until recently, top-loaders were bigger and could wash far larger loads far more quickly than front-loaders. For most people, these factors were decisive. But things have begun to change.
In recent years, tumbling machines have become increasingly popular on account of their outstanding energy- and water-saving features. They offer faster spinning speeds, too, and faster spins mean that clothes come out of the washer far more dry and thus dry faster in the dryer, creating further energy savings and convenience. Tumblers often cost more up front, but depending on your laundry volume and your habits, you make up a good portion or even all of the excess cost in reduced operating costs over the life of the machine. For these reasons, they are called “high-efficiency” or HE machines.
American front-loading and hybrid models are no longer smaller than agitators; the different models have a range of capacities comparable to that of top-loaders. (European front-loaders continue to be smaller and slower than new American front-loaders.) And despite the ample capacity of new-model tumblers, they still use much less water and energy than old-fashioned agitating machines. Today’s more stringent regulations on laundry appliance efficiencies, therefore, have tipped the balance in favor of tumbling machines for many home laundries.
Claims of superior laundry effectiveness are also made for tumbling machines—both by their manufacturers and by many users. Tumblers, they say, not only clean more thoroughly but they clean more gently, causing less wear and tear on clothes. Tumblers generally use more rinses than top-loaders, too, and repeated rinses are more effective at removing residues of dirt and detergent than one deep rinse. More thorough rinsing is also better for sensitive skin and helps clothes last longer and stay cleaner longer. Because of their more effective washing and rinsing, some say that tumbling machines help decrease reliance on laundry chemicals such as detergent and bleach.
But new-model tumblers, unfortunately, are still slightly less convenient to use than top-loaders. They still tend to take longer to wash the clothes than top-loaders, although they offer various quick-wash options. You still have to bend down to fill front-loaders. You still cannot open some tumblers to add a forgotten item after the first couple of minutes of the cycle; nor do you have the same ability to fiddle with the length of washes or rinses as you have with agitators. Because tumbling causes more suds and uses less water than agitating, tumblers need low-sudsing HE detergents that at present cost more, although the prediction is that their price will come down. The new hybrids offer the convenience of top-loading but otherwise tend to have many of the advantages and disadvantages of front-loaders.
What Happens Inside Your Washing Machine.
You should not assume, when you read a care label, that the manufacturer is trying to give you the least expensive or the best or even both of two equally good sets of care instructions. The rules do not require this, and care labels very often do not do so.
When care labels give warnings, they are not required to explain what danger is being warned against, how big a danger it is, or how likely the danger is. Care labels never tell you why one procedure is recommended rather than another, whether it is because a garment might fade, shrink, pill, or go limp or shapeless, whether invisible finishes may dissolve, and so on. Care labels do not tell you whether the product has received wrinkle-resistance or other treatments or whether any instructions on the label are there to protect a finish. Manufacturers are not required to tell you on care labels how much shrinking you can expect, nor when instructions are geared toward preventing shrinkage.
Care labels are not required to tell you when starch or sizing is necessary to restore the crisp appearance of a garment, or when ironing should be done when the clothes are damp. Apparently, they are also not required to give instructions on the use of soaps or detergents, softeners, bluing agents, boosters, and the like, and they rarely do, except, occasionally, to advise the use of mild soap or detergent.
At the present time, care labels are not required on gloves, hats, handkerchiefs, neckties, shoes, and similar items of attire, or on sheets, mattress pads, tablecloths, blankets, towels, rugs, upholstery, and many other textile products used in the home. Wisely, manufacturers almost always include care labels on towels, linens, and other textile goods even though they are not required. When care labels are absent, as sometimes happens on imported towels and linens, you have to rely entirely on labels describing fiber content—which are, fortunately, required by the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act for all domestic and imported textiles—and use care procedures appropriate to the fibers.
Preparing the Clothes. Some commonsense precautions are necessary to prepare the clothes for the machine or washtub:
Turn inside out any blue jeans or other articles that may fade or whose color may abrade (if you wish to prevent that); also turn inside out articles made of synthetic fibers, knits, and other articles prone to pilling or that have poor abrasion resistance. The creases of cotton fabrics that have received resin treatment to prevent wrinkling are particularly vulnerable to abrasion. Turn corduroys inside out to avoid wearing down the pile and to reduce lint. Heat-transfer, pigment, or other prints that might rub off will also be safer turned inside out. But remember that turning a garment inside out can make it hard to get heavy soil or stains off the protected right side; sometimes you will want to omit this step for the sake of a cleaner outcome.
Check pockets, cuffs, pleats, and folds for coins, keys, crayons, pens, tissues, papers, lint, and so on. Hard objects, such as coins and keys, can damage the smooth surfaces of the washer and dryer tubs, leaving rough places that might snag, tear, or abrade clothes. Crayons and pens can mark much of the load. Tissues, paper, lint, and the like will adhere to the laundered clothes and prove troublesome to remove.
In a mesh bag, place hosiery, articles that tear and snag such as lace, articles with fringe that might fray, tangle, or become detached, and small items that might otherwise get lost. A zippered pillow cover or a pillowcase with the opening secured can be used in place of a mesh bag. (Contrary to what you may have heard, small items like baby socks are never actually sucked down the drain pipes, which have filters to prevent this; they disappear into sleeves, pant legs, and dresses and are folded, unnoticed, into towels and sheets.) Hosiery can get twisted or knotted or can snag on almost any rough surface. Heavily soiled pieces may not wash clean, however, in a mesh bag. You may have to hand-wash them.
Pins should usually be removed before washing because of the possibility that they will rust or that the pinned fabric will tear. Cuff links, buckles, and other metal attachments pose the same dangers—and the additional danger, according to washing machine manufacturers, that they can damage the enamel inside the machine—and, if possible, should be removed. Buckles on sturdy fabrics that will not be harmed by pins could be fastened inside pant legs instead. Or, if you can, place such potentially hazardous items in mesh bags for laundering.
Tie together sashes or other long pieces that might knot and tangle the wash. Button long sleeves to each other or to shirt fronts to prevent them from tangling. Fasten bras. Pin things together only if you are certain that the pin will not rust and that the fabric around the pin will not tear during the wash. Some people like to pin little items to a bigger one, such as a towel, to be sure that they are not lost, but do this only if you are sure that it will not tear. Again, the easiest solution is to remove sashes and similar items and tuck them into a mesh bag for laundering. Mend tears and tighten loose buttons before laundering. Tears will grow larger and buttons may come off and be lost in the wash.
Remove detachable decorations, linings, buttons, and other trim or attachments on a garment that are not washable. Of course you can do this only if you know how to reattach them. If sewn-in linings are not washable, few of us are up to undertaking to remove them and sew them back in later; such garments should be dry-cleaned. If you are astonished to learn that someone might go to the trouble of removing and then resewing a delicate button or piece of lace trim for the sake of laundering something safely, the perspective of the nineteenth century may help. Good washing practice then called at times for taking a dress apart entirely for washing or other cleaning and sewing it back together later! Removing collars, buttons, or lace for laundering was commonplace.
Check each load for matching: does it contain any pieces that belong in sets? If so, add the missing pieces, even if they are clean, so that all will fade to the same degree. Always wash sock mates together, too, or they may become different colors.
When you are worried about an item’s colorfastness, you should usually test its fastness to any substance with which you plan to launder it: bleach, boosters, pretreatments, stain removers, and even detergents if they contain bleach or other additives that raise questions in your mind. Some dyes will run or fade in a solution of water and detergent but would not be affected by plain water; some will bleed when you use hot water but not warm. Some will bleed in a pretreatment solution or in bleach but would not run in a solution of mere detergent and water. Test with hot or warm water if you will be washing in hot or warm water; the action of oxygen bleaches and some other laundry additives is greatly increased in hotter water.
Pretreatments and stain removers sometimes have special ingredients that can cause some dyes, especially fluorescent dyes, to run, so be particularly careful to test neon pinks, electric blues, and other fluorescent colors.
Choose an inconspicuous area for testing, such as the wrong side of a hem or on a seam allowance, so that if your test leaves a spot, it will not show. Be sure to lay the cloth in such a way that the solution does not penetrate through to visible areas
Why sort laundry?
Sorting is the process of separating soiled clothes and linens into heaps or piles such that all the articles in a pile can safely receive similar laundry treatment—similar washing methods, washing products, water temperature, washing vigor and duration, and, usually, drying methods, times, and temperatures. Sorting the laundry has become more complicated than it was because there are new fibers, finishes, and fabric constructions to deal with. Even care labels may seem to complicate matters instead of simplifying them. I recently counted ten different sets of laundry directions included on the care labels of the clothes included in one medium-sized load. Drying instructions add even more complications. If you tried to obey each care label to the letter, you might end up with thirty or forty laundry loads on every laundry day. As a result of these complications, a kind of minicrisis of sorting has developed in which the old rules no longer seem to work, and the standard consequence of a breakdown in rules and values has ensued: the youth have become skeptical and nihilistic. They do not believe it is possible to figure it all out. They do not sort their clothes for laundering, and they sneer that sorting makes no difference.
But they are wrong. You can still figure out how to sort, and if you don’t sort, over time your clothes will suffer the subtle or not-so-subtle bleeding of dyes that turns all light-colored clothes dull pink or dingy gray, along with shrinking, pilling, tearing, and other problems. Damage can be mild or immense. The bad effects of undesirable laundering habits are often cumulative and long-term. You will not necessarily see them at once; they may appear over weeks and months. Some people know very well what is the cause of their pink undershorts and towels and sheets of uniform dinginess, but they believe that their time is so short that bright, attractive colors, good fit, and unpilled knits are luxuries that they cannot afford. Doing laundry well, however, takes little more time than doing it poorly, and endless shopping to replace goods that prematurely look bad or function badly takes far more time in the long run. Besides, when you find something you like, you want it to last. Most of us cannot afford to buy whatever we want whenever we want it, even assuming that another shirt just like the ruined one could be found.
Sorting clothes properly requires knowing what their care labels say. The care label warns you against procedures that will likely do damage and tells you a safe way to clean the garment. If reading a lot of care labels seems onerous and you are not accustomed to it, be assured that as you gain experience, you come to know your own clothes and linens. Eventually, you will read care labels only when you first buy and launder things, as you get into the habit of keeping this kind of information in mind. If you, like me, choose to second-guess care labels, it is virtually guaranteed that sooner or later you are going to wreck something. Ignoring care labels has led me to turn a crisp linen suit into a limp rag and to shrink a chic rayon/acetate crepe dress so severely that I was unable to pull it on over my shoulders. When this happens to you, be prepared to shed philosophical tears and blame no one but yourself.
All new clothes, sheets, and other household fabrics that are launderable should be washed once before they are used. After this, wash launderable clothes, linens, and household textiles when they look, feel, or smell dirty. Even if they look fine, you should launder them if you know that they have accumulated dirt and dust, because particulate dirt and dust will contribute to wearing them out. Particles of dust cut into cloth like tiny knives, weakening it and rendering it susceptible to holes and tears. Perspiration, food, and other substances that get on clothes during wear cause deterioration or discoloration in many fabrics.
On the other hand, because laundering and dry cleaning also age cloth, you should avoid resorting to them too frequently. Most of us today do tend to over-launder simply because laundering is so easy; children find it much easier to deposit a barely worn garment in a laundry hamper than to hang it nicely for airing or fold it neatly for the shelf. Of course, if you have perspired heavily in a garment, you must wash it before wearing it again, and what used to be called “body linen”—underwear and other intimate clothing—always needs washing after just one wear. But if you get a spot on a fresh garment, try washing or cleaning off just the spot with plain water or a commercial spot remover or a cleaning fluid (unless the garment is a silk or other fabric that may water-spot or unless the spot cleaning may leave a ring or faded spot—test your procedure first in an inconspicuous area). And rather than throw the shirt you wore for an hour into the laundry hamper, put it on a hanger and let it air, then replace it in your closet for wearing again. Brush and air clothes and blankets, especially woolens, after use. Sometimes you can simply wipe down wools and synthetics with a barely damp, white, nonlinting cloth to keep them clean longer. (If you do this, be sure to air them until they are absolutely dry before replacing them in drawers or closets.) Wear T-shirts under dress shirts, and use camisoles, slips, or dress shields under blouses and dresses. By these means, you can often keep launderable garments free of visible soil and heavy perspiration so that they remain fresh enough for two or more wearings before laundering. If you are on a tight budget, all this is even more important for clothes that must be dry-cleaned.
As clothes and linens become soiled through regular use, collect them in a clothes hamper or other receptacle. Let towels and other damp articles dry before you put them into the hamper, and place the hamper in a dry room, not in the bathroom (unless you have a bath suite with a dry room separate from the shower and tub). Stored damp laundry may mildew or become malodorous, and the odor can taint the air in the room where they are stored. Gathering soiled laundry in an airy container, such as a wicker or woven basket or hamper, will help avoid this problem. (You can sprinkle baking soda in a hamper to deodorize it as well; the soda can go right into the washing machine, as it is a gentle detergent booster.) Lidded baskets of wicker or similar material with a polyurethane coating are a good choice for hampers; air can enter through the interstices, and the smooth coating protects clothes from being snagged and the container itself from being damaged by moisture.
Very greasy, muddy, or heavily soiled clothing should be stored separately if there is any danger of the soil getting on other articles in the hamper. Fine and delicate items should also be stored separately for laundering so as to avoid their coming into contact with soil, odors, snags, or anything else that might harm them. A smooth cloth sack that will breathe and can be hung in some convenient place (not your clothes closet) works best. Later on, these items are laundered separately to protect them from harsher cleaning methods that they will not easily withstand.
In most households, doing laundry only once or twice a week is more effective and efficient than doing a load or two every day, and that is because the first step in preparing to do laundry is to accumulate an adequate stock of dirty clothes and linens to wash. It is inefficient and ineffective to run washers and dryers with very small loads; clothes come cleaner if washed in medium or larger loads and if articles of different sizes, large and small, are mixed loosely together in a load. This sort of mix will also help prevent the load from becoming unbalanced. (When the load becomes unbalanced, the washing machine may automatically shut down or dance wildly across the floor.) Clothes dry faster, too, if the dryer has at least a medium fill. Moreover, if you wait until a good stock is accumulated, you will have fewer temptations to give some items improper treatment by washing them with a load of dissimilar items.
On the other hand, the accumulation of laundry should be small enough to be completed in a reasonable amount of time, and each laundry day should be fairly close in time to the last one—a week or less. The longer the dirt stays on fabrics, the harder it is to remove. In many instances, articles should receive interim treatment to prevent permanent staining or discoloration. Dirt, particularly perspiration and many food stains, also weakens fabrics, causing them to deteriorate, fade, or turn yellow. Mildew and odor are more likely to develop if laundry sits unwashed for a while; mildew can permanently discolor fabrics. And, of course, the sooner the laundry is washed, the sooner the clothes and linens are available for using again.
Choosing one day a week when most of the laundry is always done will go far toward making laundry easier to do while keeping life pleasant and orderly. One may choose to do a smaller wash of similar items on a second washing day—say, toddlers’ clothes or towels and linens or other items requiring relatively uncomplicated treatment.
Households in which all adults work full-time out of the home may prefer to have two laundry days (or evenings), a major and a minor one, or in households with lots of laundry, two roughly equal laundry days. If you are going to have two laundering days, you may help yourself to stay organized by doing a different kind of laundry on each day—for example, towels and linens on one, clothing on the other. Cleaning day, when you strip the beds and put out fresh towels, is also a good day to wash towels, sheets, tea towels, table-cloths, and other household linens. Clothes may be better done on a separate laundering day from linens and towels because they are usually more complicated to sort and tend to. If you do any ironing, you will find you stay more organized, and the clothes stay fresher, if you do it as soon as possible after washing, or even while you are washing.
It is possible to do small amounts of laundry several times a week or every day. This system actually tends to work best in large, highly organized households, particularly those in which someone stays home to keep house. But it also tends to be adopted as a kind of default system in more disorganized households where no one stays home. Frequent laundering geared to the needs of the day makes it hard to get properly sorted and balanced loads. Besides, this method never gives one a sense of repose, freedom from an accomplished chore. Nor does it lead one to form expectations and habits in accordance with what clothes and linens will be available for use at a given time. And because it requires you to attend to the laundry so frequently, it is a system that tends to break down, creating disorder and crisis and more frustration. The system of doing laundry once or twice a week depends on having a stock of clothes and linens that will last a week and be adequate for occasional emergencies as well—but this is usually a condition easily met in the era of inexpensive fabrics. Some people manage to have even fewer, but longer, laundry days by stocking extra-large quantities of clothes and linens, a satisfactory procedure so long as proper stain-removal procedures and pretreatments are used on stored soiled clothes. Centuries ago, the difficulties of laundering meant that in some large, wealthy households linens were washed only annually or semiannually. These households held astonishing stores of linens, dozens of sheets and tablecloths, for this was necessary to get from one rare laundering day to the next.
Gathering, Storing, and Sorting Laundry
Laundering at home vs. sending out the laundry … Reducing the amount of laundry in your home … Scheduling; how often you should launder; laundry day … Deciding when clothes need washing; clothes hampers … Why we sort before laundering … Care labels; the rules of sorting; sorting by washing method, color, level of soil, potential for damage; compromises in sorting … What counts as white; more about sorting colors; bleaches … How to test for colorfastness … Pretreating and other prewash preparations
The automated home laundry is a great boon to comfort and happiness. Yet more and more people, caught in the terrible time-squeeze of the modern home, think of it only with abhorrence. I suspect they have not thought through the drop in their standard of living that would follow if all the fabrics in their home had to be sent out for laundering. In any event, like so many other kinds of modern housework, home laundering is much more a matter of knowing than of doing a lot. Once you know how, home laundering is little trouble and provides great benefits.
Centuries ago, well-to-do city dwellers sent their laundry to the country, where there were rivers to wash it and fields in which to spread it in the sun for drying and bleaching. Aristocratic French families at the end of the seventeenth century sent their soiled linens all the way to the sunny Caribbean for laundering. By 1900, the custom of sending the laundry out (or sometimes of having a laundress come do it) had been adopted by other classes and was widespread. This system had some inconveniences—lost or poorly laundered clothes, damage, stains, clothes and linens that could not be used because they were away being laundered—but these were overridden by its great benefits. One hundred years ago, laundering was highly labor-intensive and required elaborate facilities for washing and drying, including boilers, wringers, and mangles, a whole collection of irons and ironing equipment, drying contraptions of various sorts, and ample space indoors and out. Few city families could supply all this muscle power, time, equipment, and space—or know-how—so out went the laundry, or, in some cases, in came the poor laundry women.
Then came automatic washing machines and other improvements for home laundries, and the private home again took on sole responsibility for the job. Commercial laundries disappeared by the hundreds. That is why some feminists who wish to relieve women of the burdens of housekeeping have bitterly complained that home laundering is a case of a battle once won and then lost again. The calls for once more giving up home laundering, now that women have gone out to work in such numbers, have become louder and louder. In my view, home laundering is so easy, convenient, inexpensive, and successful that it is here to stay for most of us. For some, however, sending it out would be the best thing to do.
If you are single and working long hours or are part of a two-career family with children, you may sometimes find that this is a good choice for you. I know from experience that when you are tired and stressed from work, nothing cheers you up like someone delivering bundles of crisp, clean laundry. I also know from experience, however, that commercial laundries do not do nearly as good a job as you can at home, cause much faster wearing and fading of clothes and linens, and will rarely give the individual attention to cherished garments or expensive linens that you will. Commercial laundering means that you have to give up either having especially nice things or trying to keep them looking good, and you suffer the same inconveniences it caused a century ago. The garment you desperately need for a trip cannot be retrieved from the bowels of the laundry establishment until the appointed day, and even then maybe not. Special sheets or extra towels unexpectedly needed for company may be gone. Cracked buttons, discoloration, fading, and loss are still common.
The greatest problem for most people, however, is the large expense of sending the laundry out. It costs much, much more than doing the wash at home, even when the laundering services are mediocre. To have it done with anything approaching the delicate attention to individual garments and laundry problems that can be offered at home costs more than most people, even some who are relatively well off, can afford. (Because dry cleaning costs even more than commercial laundering, most of us choose some kind of laundering over dry cleaning whenever possible.)
Many people can afford the occasional use of good commercial laundries, however, and taking advantage of this possibility when you must work extra-long hours or when you or your children are sick or when there is a series of meetings you must attend at the time when you would ordinarily be laundering, can be such a boon that it is worth dipping into your emergency nest egg for this service now and then. Using commercial laundries only occasionally rather than regularly has the additional advantage that it causes less overall wear and tear on your clothes than habitual commercial laundering. Another option is to use commercial laundering services for some portion of your laundry; dress shirts are the classic choice here because they almost always require heavy ironing. Just sending out the shirts saves a significant amount of time and causes a minimum of inconvenience. (But be sure to stock more shirts in the wardrobe than you would find necessary if you were doing them at home.)
You can also have someone come to your home to do your laundry, but you must take care to pick a conscientious person who knows how to do it, for the damage caused by sloppy or ignorant laundering can be immense. You might try asking the prospective employee to describe his or her laundering procedures. Questions about care labels, bleaches, permanent-press cycles, and drying temperatures tend to smoke out areas of ignorance. Even when you hire someone who understands laundry basics, however, you cannot expect the same kind of knowledge and attention you would give the task yourself; nor can you expect to pass along everything you know—about your clothes, linens, and fabrics as well as about laundering—especially if you have limited time to devote to training someone. And if you are going to sort, pretreat, and do a few hand-washables yourself, you are not going to save much time by having someone else do the rest, which, after all, does not take much time. What it takes is your being at home for a few hours at a stretch so that you can change loads and remove loads from the dryer. You can be doing many other things while the laundry proceeds.
Recent raids by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department turned up more than 400 buckets of apparently counterfeit laundry detergents at multiple locations in the Los Angeles area…
ABC News was there when the raids were conducted. According to authorities, the fake detergent is available for sale at swap meets, fundraisers and online.
Investigators say that dealers allegedly buy the phony detergent for about $5 and then sell it for sometimes as much as five times the purchase price.
Counterfeiting overall is a nearly $500 billion a year business. This past year alone, Procter & Gamble has helped to identify close to 50 factories that are sending out counterfeit goods. The company which makes Tide, Downy and Gain detergents wants counterfeit products off the streets, and it has urged the U.S. Senate to pass relevant legislation. It has also provided tips to local law enforcement about possible counterfeit product.
Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Anne Candido says the sale of counterfeit laundry detergent has been on the rise. “We started seeing this really escalate starting about a year ago,” she said. “It’s showing up all over the place and the social media is the enabler.”
Lt. Geoffrey Deedrick of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Office of Counterfeit and Piracy Team says one possible factor contributing to the rise could be that selling counterfeit laundry detergent is a lot less risky than selling other types of contraband.
“These guys are driving around with van loads of this stuff every day like it’s nothing,” Deedrick said. “If you made just as much money selling counterfeit Tide as heroin, what would you choose? The Tide.”
Charges stemming from arrests in the Los Angeles raids are pending, police said.
Once seized, samples from the allegedly counterfeit laundry detergent are sent to a Procter & Gamble lab in Cincinnati, Ohio, for quality testing and to determine if the product is indeed counterfeit.
Jack English, a senior scientist at Procter & Gamble, says that the risks of using counterfeit detergent could be very serious. “Without sounding too scary, the risks are quite large because we just don’t know. It would be like putting your family in a car that you have no idea where it came from.”
And while English found that the seized detergent looked and even smelled like the real stuff, he determined that there was an irregularly high amount of water in the product.
Procter & Gamble says consumers should not buy 5-gallon containers of any product being billed as Procter & Gamble detergent because the company doesn’t sell any detergents in that size. Consumers who have any questions about the detergents are advised to call the phone number on the label of any legitimate Procter & Gamble product.
Article from ABC news.