#1. Washing too hot: This is tough to avoid if you have to go to a laundromat, since most laundromat washers (no matter what the dial says) have two heat settings: Hot, and Fusion. Unless you’re an abnormally dirty or stinky fellow, medium or gentle cycle on cold (or warm at most) should be good for 90% of your laundry needs.
#2. Drying too hot: 90% of all whiny “it shrank on the first wash!” internet reviews could be solved by a warm/cool wash and a warm to cool dry. Hot & hot = too much for most fibers. That said, you have to have respect for the guys who put their wardrobe through the “if it can’t stand the heat, get out of my closet” test. It’s the Spartan Race of laundry. Wash on hot. Dry on hot. If it doesn’t survive, toss it. Those dudes don’t mess around. (hat tip to my pal Chuck for proudly using this method)
#3. Not taking the time to sort: Wash with like colors = your clothes will look better longer. Try the four pile system:
- Nice Lights (dress shirts and what not, try a delicate cycle and warm or cold temp)
- Nice Darks (jeans and other items you don’t want to fade. cold temp here)
- In Between (t-shirts, chinos, cotton sweaters, henleys, etc… warm or cold temp)
- Crap (gym clothes, yard/work clothes, stuff you wiped the dog down with. Wash warm to hot with a little vinegar)
Clockwise from top left: Nice Lights, Nice Darks, In Between, & Crap
#4. Not checking pockets: Spent gum in a wrapper. A phone number from a night out. Your phone. All stuff you don’t want going through the laundry.
#5. Dry Cleaning Too Often: The process can be pretty mean on clothes. Especially on fused suit jackets. After a while, dry-cleaning can break down that fusing (i.e. glue) so it dries into uneven clumps under the fabric. Looks awful. Unless you’ve sweated a ton in your suit or wool sweater, air it out and brush it/roll it off.
#6. Leaving clothes in the dryer: As guys, we’re genetically predisposed to doing this. Total fact. Look it up. Yet, it’s a dryer, not a drawer. Picking your daily outfit out of the dryer, every day, for a week… isn’t ideal. I mean it works, but it really takes more time than you think.
#7. Using the wrong hangers, or, using hangers. Wire hangers will leave dents in your shirt shoulders. Plastic or wood is much better. Wide shouldered wood hangers for your jackets. And fold your sweaters and tees. Gravity is hell on knits.
Good hangers are a worthy investment.
#8. Not sorting socks: Consistently sorting and matching your socks after drying is varsity level stuff. It’s a tough habit to get into. But having an organized sock drawer is like knowing how to type properly. Hunt & peck takes too long.
#9. Not putting folded stuff away immediately: Ah yes, the dreaded laundry basket full of clean, folded clothing, that’s been left downstairs. And you’re upstairs. And you’re out of clean underwear. And you’re naked. And none of the blinds are closed.
#10. Washing a “washable” blazer or sportcoat: Even if the tag says you can machine wash it… don’t. The risk is you bust up whatever construction the thing has going for it. It might come out okay, but there’s a good chance it’ll never look as smooth or drape the same ever again. Even rumpled chino blazers can go from rumpled to Ronnie Wood in the washer.
BONUS: Not reading the care label: If it says hand wash or dry clean only, don’t machine wash it. Wool sweaters, suits, outerwear, etc. Some things just aren’t made for the Maytag.
Top Photo Credit: A. Alpenfelt