I'm sorry to spring this on you here, in front of everyone, but this is a laundry intervention. Your weak laundry game is hurting us all, but really, the biggest casualty is you. You have your life together in so many other ways — don't you want people to look at you and see you, not just a bunch of weird wrinkles, missing sequins, and that bizarre discoloration on your pants that's shaped kind of like Wisconsin?
Now that you know the truth, how are you going to change your (laundry) life? It'll be easy: just a touch less laundry detergent here, a few brief minutes cleaning your delicates with the Swash 10-minute clothing care system instead of flagrantly ignoring care labels there, and all your nice clothes will actually look, you know, nice. Here are six laundry-related myths, debunked, for your grooming pleasure (and the world's!).
MYTH: Super-hot water is the only way to get your clothes really clean.
FACT: A hot water wash is not the only effective cleaning method, and it can actually lead to shrinkage, color fading, and other problems that make your brand-new clothes look like you've been using them to clean out your garage. Plus, hot water washes also impact more than just the look and lifespan of your clothes — 3/4 of the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with doing a load of laundry is from heating water. A detergent formulated to work in cold water will get your clothes just as clean, without wasting water or energy.
MYTH: The more detergent I use, the cleaner my laundry gets!
FACT: There are only a few situations in this life where more can actually be worse than less, and this is one of them. To begin with, you are probably already using too much detergent — it's become more concentrated through the years, to the point that most of us are currently using 10 to 15 times the amount of detergent we actually need. This is good news in many ways — detergent is more powerful, less wasteful, and you get more bang for your buck. But people are terrible at reading directions — and, all that extra detergent doesn't get your clothes any cleaner. In fact, when you go heavy on the suds you run the risk of over-saturating your clothes with detergent, which will then cling to the garment — this excess soap makes your clothes feel stiff and rubs the excess detergent all over your skin once you put those clothes on. Used correctly, detergent will work wonders, so read the back of that bottle and ease up on your pour.
MYTH: The only reason that "hand wash" clothes need to be washed by the hand is that they're too delicate for the jarring motion of the washing machine — it's fine to use regular detergent on them.
FACT: Delicate fabrics can be damaged by the harsher laundry chemicals of standard machine detergent. If you "hand-wash-only" clothes to disintegrate between your tiny, confused fingers, then sure, use regular detergent. But if you'd like to keep your embellished lace blouses embellished and lacy, use a gentler detergent formula on them than you'd use in the washer, or put them through a quick cleaning cycle on the Swash system.
MYTH: Jeans need to be washed after every wear.
FACT: There are myriad conflicting theories about how often jeans need to be washed: we've heard everything from "after wearing 4-5 times" to "after 6 months" to "never, just pop 'em in the freezer." Whatever your theory, it's a truth universally acknowledged that your jeans don't need to be washed after every wearing, especially if they're made of high-quality denim. So should you freeze them (we've heard that only works for raw denim, and might just leave regular jeans cold and stinky)? Or should you Swash them (you really should)? The Swash system is a gentle and effective way to get that just-out-of-the-dryer tightness back into your jeans, and you won't have to worry that you're shortening their lifespan with too much washing. Not to mention, they'll end up smelling fresh too.
MYTH: All sweaters will pill, it is the circle of life and the way of all things, and there's nothing you can do about it.
FACT: Okay, fine, the yarn used to make most sweaters will pill eventually, given enough wear and tear. But you can take steps to push back that dark day when your favorite wrap starts looking like the cardigan your Nana wears while she watches her stories. Try to let your sweaters "rest" for 24 hours between wearings, and avoid washing them in a machine at all if you can.
MYTH: No one has the time to iron their clothes or run out to the dry cleaner every day. It's totally ok to go out in public looking like you just finished rolling around on the floor with some dogs after sleeping in your clothes. Everyone will understand!
FACT: While it is true that pretty much no one has the time to dry clean or iron every day, especially when they're busy killing it at all other parts of life, there are more sensible solutions that just trying to make wrinkled shirts "happen" — or, for that matter, dressing only in Lycra. Ten minutes in a Swash Express Clothing Care System can take the wrinkles out of your favorite garments, making you look presentable for once without all the annoying errands. And since those ten minutes of swashing happen inside your home, and don't require effort or supervision the way ironing does, you can spend them any way you like. Freedom!
Gabrielle Moss has written mostly funny stuff (but also some serious stuff) for GQ.com, The Hairpin, Nerve, etc. You can follow her here.