Tips from a Lazy Laundress

When Steph & I announced Frosting Fortnight, someone commented about wanting to see tips for washing their frosting. The time it took to take care of delicates was holding them back from wearing their fineries.


I face the same problem. While I can’t speak for this other person, I am guilty of being way too lazy to do laundry. A month or more can go by as the pile gets bigger & bigger. Thankfully the stink does not get proportionally bigger! Despite not being anything approaching the paragon of a responsible laundress, I do have a few tips that can help cut down on the amount of work that goes into washing delicates.

  • Treat most of your clothing like a tough delicate. I don’t use a dryer for much beyond jeans. Most everything gets chucked into a washing machine that uses cold water (good for the environment & helps delay color fading). Then, it all gets line dried. When everything gets treated the same way you don’t have to wait months to amass enough stuff for one load of delicate laundry & you can wear your frosting more often. You might find you can safely machine wash a lot more than you thought you could. Just make sure to exercise caution & good sense- some sweaters can still shrink.
  • If you’re an apartment dweller, try out a mini washing machine. For Christmas I received a Wonder Washer. It’s like a giant blender for clothing. No worries- it won’t turn your red silk dress into a strawberry smoothie. While it can take more effort than using a washing machine (although much less time), it does take less work than traditional hand washing. Plus, you can save quite a few quarters by going this route. I like to spin my clothing for three to six minutes with soap, drain the soapy water & add fresh, then run it for three minutes in a “rinse” cycle. That extra cycle eliminates some of the hand rinsing. It’s amazing how little time my clothing actually needs during the initial washing. Just a few minutes are sufficient for producing clean smelling duds.

    Wonder Washer, courtesy of
  • New kid on the block- no rinse detergent. I’m not sure how long it’s been around, but it’s become all the rage among knitters. Add a touch of detergent to tepid water, soak your delicate item for 15 minutes, gently squeeze out the excess water by hand or by wrapping it in a towel, set on the drying rack. Absolutely no rinsing required. During the two weeks of Frosting Fortnight I’ll be cleaning a few things with two popular brands of detergent, ‘Soak’ & ‘Eucalan’. At the end, I’ll let you know which brand comes out on top. 
  • Wash while you shower. I don’t do it often, but once in a great while I’ll take a delicate into the shower with me & soap it up as I’m soaping myself up (I wash with castile soap, which legitimately can be used for cleaning yourself & your clothing, as opposed to a body wash). One of the things I hate about hand washing is getting water everywhere. That’s not so much of a worry here, so I’m less likely to put off washing something for really long periods of time.
  • Absolute lazy bliss- steam cleaning. If you own a fancy steamer, good for you. If your iron puts out some great steam, give it a whirl. If not, use your shower. Hang just about anything in the bathroom while you shower. The steam will lightly clean your things so you don’t need to do as many involved washings. This can especially be a boon when you’ve got things that don’t take so well to water, like rayon. Water makes rayon pill (dry cleaning uses silicon so shouldn’t cause pilling). Since steam means the water is a lot less concentrated, you should see less pilling. While I’ve never seen shrinking happen from steaming something in the shower, just be aware of fibers that you’re not supposed to clean on high heat.

My best success story with steaming comes from years ago, when I went to a bonfire & came home smelling like a chimney. After every shower I noticed the stink on my wool coat got less & less- this was not an open & airy space where the odor would have dissipated by itself in a short time. Once a month had passed my coat smelled clean & I had gotten to avoid a trip to the dry cleaners.  However, most things should only need the steam from one or a few shower sessions.

This is what has worked for me. Do you have any advice for easy washing? When the no rinse detergent trials have been completed & I post the results, I’ll also post any tips you guys leave in the comments.


9 thoughts on “Tips from a Lazy Laundress

  1. Pingback: No Rinse Detergent Review & Giveaway « Disparate Disciplines

  2. Pingback: Day of the Dead Clothes (And Skeletons From My Closet) « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  3. Pingback: Frosting Fortnight Wrap Up « Disparate Disciplines

  4. Ooo, I love some of these suggestions! I do most of my laundry on cold, and keep a couple of zippered bags for extra-delicates (popping them in a pillowcase works too). The bags also remind me not to throw them in the dryer with the other stuff. (I never put my jeans in the dryer—heat is bad for anything with Lycra)

  5. Considering there are only two people in this house, we generate an enormous amount of washing. Everything gets thrown in the washing machine, regardless of the fabric (except tigerboy’s work suits). I figure, if it gets ruined, it gets ruined – it was only going to sit in the laundry for years waiting for me to hand wash it anyway (surprisingly, only one pair of raw silk trousers has ever been marred, oddly, the matching top has never had a problem – I think they must have got caught on something in there).

    When I’m travelling, I do the ‘wash in the shower’ trick – every time I take a shower, I wash whatever I was wearing.

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