Q&A: How to do laundry with Patric Richardson

Aug 27, 2020

Patric Richardson is a fashion pro, textile guru and laundry expert who loves sharing his tips on clothing care. Richardson, a Kentucky native, worked at Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom and other high end shops before starting the Mona Williams boutique at Mall of America. Here he holds his popular Laundry Camps where he shares his laundry lessons. His mother and grandmother taught him the importance of meticulously washed and pressed clothing. He now runs the blog thelaundryevangelist.com. His book Laundry Love, co-written with Karin B. Miller, is scheduled to come out in the spring.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, the Property Brothers or Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest, answer your decorating, design and decluttering questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and organizing. For more than 20 years, our Thursday Q&A has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share your own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small.

Doing laundry can be confusing and with everyone working from home and households full of additional family members, there's more to do. Patric Richardson. known as The Laundry Evangelist, knows the ins and outs of detergents and water temperatures and stain removal. Send in your questions now!

Good Morning! I am Patric Richardson, the Laundry Evangelist.  I LOVE laundry and love talking about it...in fact, I love it so much, I literally (with the help of the incredible Karin Miller) wrote the book on it.  Laundry Love comes out March 2021 but is available for preorder everywhere you love to buy books.  Whenever I am not lucky enough to be in the laundry room, I am at my store Mona Williams in the Mall of America in MN. You can also follow me on social media @laundrypatric

Is there a way to refresh my black clothes that are now closer to grey than black? Is there a way to wash them to prevent this to begin with?

The best way to prevent this is to use a shorter cycle.  Warm water, express wash, cold rinse.  If they have already faded to grey, the best trick I know is to use Mrs Stewarts Bluing.  Pick it up at the grocery store, use double the amount mentioned, it often will bring back dark color! 

 

We left our dog at home for a few hours for the first time in months and she peed all over the area rug! We are having a hard time getting the odor out - what do you suggest? Thanks!

Oh no!  Fortunately, this is super easy.  Mix up a solution of Sodium Percarbonate (I use The Laundress Bleach Alternative) and warm water.  Blot the stain until it saturated and then blot with clear water until it is rinsed.  If you can take it outside, rinse with the hose.  The one trick to this is it won't work on wool or silk.  If the rug is wool or silk, douse with a serious amount of vodka then rinse, it isn't as great as the bleach alt, but it will work, and it's safe for the rug.  When you are done, pet the dog, because dogs are awesome

I have to use a laundromat. What is the best detergent (brand and product name please) to use when doing regular laundry that can't be soaked, but has the stains of life? Everyone seems to think Tide. Is that true? Thank you!

To be honest, I prefer soap flakes to detergent.  I think that since they rinse completely clean you get out more stains. I sell boatloads of them in the store, so other people tend to agree.  If you want to use a commercial detergent, just use less, it seems counter intuitive, but less detergent will get you cleaner clothes because all of the detergent will rinse out.  When the detergent rinses out, it takes all of the dirty water and the stains with it.  Warm water and express cycle will also make a huge difference!  BTW, I love the laundromat, perfect time to read (maybe even Laundry Love....shameless plug)

I'd like to describe what I think is the effect of my super hard water on dark cotton clothes, and what I did about it. I would get a black or navy cotton shirt out of the dryer and it would have what kind of looked like a fat-based stain on it, like butter or olive oil. This happened somewhat frequently and never made sense to me. I eventually decided the dark "stain" was the real color of the garment; the rest was stained with minerals from my hard water. I started turning darker clothes inside out, switched from warm to cold water, skipped the extra rinse cycle, and added white vinegar to the one rinse cycle. I already used dye-free liquid detergent and added it to the water before the clothes. All of these changes seem to have helped with my strange stains!

You are a scientist in the laundry room for sure.  The butter or olive oil stain you are mentioning is extra detergent, the vinegar is breaking it down and taking it out of the clothes in the rinse.  You will get the same result if you just cut down on how much detergent you use, or switch to something that rinses better.  I will say, in all honesty, I prefer warm to cold because it makes the detergent or soap work better.  I love that you came up with a solution....satisfaction is what came out in that wash cycle

What product do you recommend for washing cashmere sweaters, lingerie etc on delicate cycle?

To be totally honest, I always use soap flakes that are packaged for my store.  I love them for everything, including cashmere sweaters (which I wear all the time in Minnesota).  I wash them in a mesh bag on the express cycle in the washing machine.  If you don't have access to soap flakes, use something crazy gentle, like hosiery wash, the key is you want it to rinse out 100% so that all you feel is the fabric next to your skin...not the detergent or soap

Our mother started us on pillowcases then sheets. If you were successful you could move up to clothes!!

Your mother, like most mothers, was a wise woman!  I love ironed sheets btw, do you use lots of steam?  a spray bottle with water to make lots and lots of steam makes it go faster and easier with better results, plus, you feel like you are getting a facial!

What do you think of these versus dryer sheets?

I love wool dryer balls, love love love them.  I love that they soften, I love that you can add essential oils to them for fragrance, and I love that they are natural.  Dryer sheet is a 10 letter word that is worse to me than most 4 letter words.  I don't like them because their process is to leave a film on the clothes to soften.  If you want to remove static, take a 1 yard piece of aluminum foil and make a ball about the size of a tennis ball and leave it in your dryer.  Static is gone and so are the chemicals.  When it gets about the size of a walnut, recycle and replace it.  You will love it!

Over time the bottom sheets become yellowish. How best to handle this? I have heard bleach is not the best way. Or is there really a time when a white sheet should be “ retired”?

Oh, I don't want to retire sheets, they get so soft and cozy.  Bleach is not the way, it actually makes the yellowing worse.  The best thing is an oxygen bleach, it will cut the oil out of the sheets without wrecking the color.  The other trick is warm water and express wash with less detergent.  If all of this fails, use the tiniest bit of bluing.  Sleep easy!

So important- something we all do and so much to know! How best to clean those HE front loader washers - bleach or those tabs? How often should you do that?

First of all, thanks for loving a laundry expert! I love you too!  The best way is 1 gallon of cheap white vinegar and 1 pound of borax.  Dump them in the drum and run them on the longest hottest cycle that you have.  As far as how often, well, the more detergent you use, the more often you should do it, so anywhere from once every 6 months to once a year. The other trick is to let your washer dry out when you aren't using it, so much better. 

Could you create a guide for liquid detergent amounts for small, medium, large and extra large laundry loads for top loading washers? For some reason no popular detergent maker ( Tide, Cheer, ALL) provides the information. They imprint meaningless, illegible lines on the caps. useless. I have emailed them.

Those lines on the caps are totally hard to read, I agree with you, a magnifying glass doesn't need to be a part of your laundry kit!  I will start with extra large and we can go from there.  If you are using commercial detergent, for an extra large load, I would recommend about 3 tablespoons, far less than the industry, but I have tested it and it is more than enough to clean.  Work your way down from there 2.5 tablespoons for large, 2 for medium and 1 for small.  You will be so much happier with the results, especially if you use warm water.  

Worried about mask laundering. I've been putting our masks in a mesh bag and washing them with our regular laundry. But should I be doing them separately on delicate? And should I use hot water?

This is exactly what I do at home, make sure you are using a good detergent or soap because you want to make sure they rinse completely clean since they are next to your face, which can be a little more sensitive.  A fun trick, if you want to just make sure they are safe without washing, hold them over a pot of boiling water (with tongs of course) until they are damp, steam cleaning at its finest

I have always added a healthy glug-glug (very precise measurement) of white vinegar into my washer before every load. I believe it helps with colorfastness for dark loads and odor control for stinky exercise clothes. I recently read that using vinegar can corrode the rubber flanges and gaskets on front loaders - I have a non-agitator top loader- what's been your experience?

I love glug glug as a measurement, I will put it with skosh, pinch, tiny bit, and big splash in my measurement system.  I am not concerned about the flanges ( I know one maker is developing a vinegar setting right now) but I am concerned about when you are using it.  Vinegar cuts soap and detergent, so when you are adding it to the wash cycle it is canceling out the effectiveness of your soap or detergent.  Use a short cycle, warm water, to help with colorfastness and an oxygen bleach (totally color safe) to deal with the odor.  If you live by the vinegar and die by the vinegar, add it where you would put fabric softener so it comes out in the rinse cycle and doesn't wreck your soap or detergent

I was hoping you could help me id the manufacturer of a chaise lounge I have a photograph of, though I now see there is not an option to attach the photo. Perhaps you could let me know if that might be possible? Thank you. Linda Beeman

email it to me at konciusj@washpost.com

What’s better to use in your washer-liquid, powder, or pods? Also, do you recommend diluting liquid detergent such as Tide and diluting liquid softeners such as Downy?

Oh wow, I might blow your mind here.  I prefer soap flakes, they are my very favorite, but if not, use liquid.  I would never use pods, they have way too much detergent for one load.  I wouldn't dilute, I would just use less, lots less, maybe 3 tablespoons for a very full load.  I never use softeners, never ever, don't like what they do to the clothes, so I can't recommend them at all.  When you use less detergent you will find your clothes are naturally soft

I love my Merino sweaters and would like to know best practice in taking care of them. Thank you!

I also am a great lover of sweaters, and taking care of them is fun like a hobby, not a chore at all.  Wash them in soap. I pack mine tightly into mesh bags and toss them in the wash, but handwashing is totally okay too.  The reality is, soap rinses out completely and allows the merino to feel as soft and dreamy as it did on the sheep.  

Hello, How often do you recommend bleaching white sheets? I change my sheets weekly, but the bottom sheet often becomes dingy over time. I also wash in tap cold water as part of my energy saver setting. Do you think it is important to change to hot for whites? OxiClean added to loads didn't seem to make much of a difference. Thanks for your thoughts!

The bottom sheet becomes yellow from the oils in our skin. I use an oxygen bleach for that, Oxiclean powder should work, but add about 3 scoops, I like Bleach Alternative from The Laundress but they have the same active ingredient.  The water could be the problem, I would use warm, as the tap might not be warm enough to activate the bleach or your detergent.  The key is use a little less detergent so it can risne out, but never use chlorine bleach  The white in your sheets is actually a dye, natural white is sort of yellowy beige and the chlorine bleach will actually take out that beautiful bright white color.  If you have already done that, use a little bluing to bring it back.  Final part of your question, I always steer clear of hot, it is very hard on the thread and the elastic in your sheets.  Long answer, but worth it to sleep better.

Hello! My husband works in the ER and wears black scrubs to work everyday. What's the best way to keep them from fading?

First of all, thanks to your husband, that has to be tough these days.  Wash them in express wash to minimize the amount of time they are abrading against themselves.  Use warm water to get them clean, and if you are concerned about them being sterile, oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate is the active ingredient you want to look for) is very effective and totally color safe.

How do I wash my cashmere throw? And once washed, how do I makeshift a flat drying surface?

First and foremost, I like your style!  It is easy to wash, just wash in some natural soap so you can get a good rinse. If you want to put it in the washing machine, pack it tightly in a mesh bag and toss it in express wash on warm, if you want to handwash, just press it against the wall of the sink to get the extra water out, don't wring it.  If you wash it in the machine, the spin cycle should get it fairly dry, but if it is in the sink, let it rest for a little while and continue to drain on its own.  When it is ready to dry, lay it on a couple of towels, it will dry pretty quickly

I'm excited to get your book when it comes out! What are most basic rules for doing laundry that apply to those with the latest technologically advanced machines and those of us (ahem) who are still struggling to get out laundry out of the 1980s, machine wise.

Thanks so much!  I am eager to share it with everyone.  The rules are the same, just the machines change.  Use an express cycle, the new machines have this, the older ones have a perm press 8 minute cycle, which give you the same result. Warm water, cold rinse, fast spin.  The way new and older machines work is a little different, but express wash, warm water, cold rinse, fast spin always works.  The other trick to break out of is using too much detergent, as they have become more concentrated we need to use less and less for best results.  Thanks for being a fan of the book! I hope you love it

I'm trying to make a good environmental choice but also really love having clean laundry. The first pods I bought, thinking that they would be a bargain ("one per load" -- hah, that depended on how big the load was), have been disappointing from a budgetary standpoint and they still came in a plastic container, albeit recyclable. Please help me!

I am not a fan of pods at all, they have far more detergent than you need, and are expensive.  I love soap, in fact I have it formulated for my store that doesn't even contain palm oil and is packed in a cellulose bag.  As far as commercial choices, use the most natural that you can, and use less, it is more effective and there are less bottles.  BTW, I love vinegar as my stain pretreater most of the time, safe, effective, and easy

My favorite highlighter-pink shorts bled in the wash and nearly ruined my favorite dress. I got the color out of the dress, but how do I make sure the shorts are done bleeding? Bonus question, if something stayed on the line too long and faded, but only on one side, is there a way to get the darker side to match?

I think the easiest way is to soak them overnight in a basin of hot water with 1/4 cup salt, that should set the color.  As far as the sun fade, I don't have much of a clue but I know that washing them will even out the color a bit.  Finally, I love the idea of highlighter pink shorts, bold is always a good choice

How to keep them looking bright without looking yellow using bleach.

Use less detergent and warm water, never use bleach it actually yellows white fabric.  I like to pretreat the stains with a horsehair brush and some soap, so the soap has a little less to do

I don't love ironing, but I have a few items of clothing that I love and that require ironing, so I break it ounce a week with the laundry. The problem is my iron (a ~15-yr old Black & Decker pretty basic model) has brown marks on the bottom (scorch marks? leftover starch?) and emits tiny grains of grit from the holes from which steam is supposed to come. Is this fixable at home? Or should I just buy a new one?

It is scorched starch on the bottom.  Use a towel with some vinegar to remove that starch and while you are at it, run some vinegar through the iron to stop the spitting.  To make the whole chore easier and more fun, I also want to offer one more tip, Donna Summer and spray bottle, if you use a spray bottle of water to make the fabric damp before you starch the ironing will be easier, and I find that disco makes everything more fun.  Hot hot hot hot stuff!

I keep my white sheets fresh by soaking them with Oxyclean in hot water (I have a top-loader so soaking is easy as pie).

Oxygen bleach is always the way, but I just toss it in and turn it on, I never soak and it still seems to work. Love that you found it btw

We are wondering about oxygen bleach and if you recommend it?

I love it almost as much as I love Diet Coke.  It is the only bleach I use because it is color safe

They do offer both. , do you find one is better for general laundry cleanliness? Boy do those front loaders take so much time to do a load.

I find both work, but I use the express cycle on my front loader so it doesn't take too long.  I always recommend express cycle, it is long enough to work, but short enough to not harm your clothes

How do I clean the dirty cuffs of my husband's silk down coat? Thank you, Claire

Silk Down Coat?  There is some serious style there!!  I would scrub the cuffs with vinegar and water (they get oily from our skin) and then wash it in soap, never detergent for down and silk, and hang it to dry

What is your secret for washing smelly stuff?

The secret is oxygen bleach.  It lifts out all the oil and the sweat without lifting out any color, use it with the tiniest amount of soap or detergent.  Extra detergent can stay in your clothes and the odor stays with it

Can you nMe some favorites we should have in our cabinets?

My favorite is soap flakes, along with oxygen bleach....then I would have cheap white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and vodka.  Spend a little more to get the soap flakes, and then use the vinegar or rubbing alcohol as your stain removers, finally the vodka will freshen fabrics between wearings (even removes cigarette smoke)

I'll be honest: if I buy something dry clean only, I've very often washed it (sometimes machine, sometimes hand wash for a bit extra insurance)...and very often, it comes out fine. I'm too lazy and/or cheap to go to the dry cleaners all the time, and more often than not, that laziness works for me. (Though it's not always laziness. Sometime I've not even noticed the instructions until after I already ran it through the machine successfully.) It's made me very skeptical of care instructions. My question: is there a way to tell ahead of time which fabrics/garments really mean it?

We are kindred spirits.  I wash everything.  The key is using some gentle soap and care.  The recipe for the soap I sell in my store came from a wool farmer and is 200 years old, so washing precious fabrics is an old idea, dry cleaning is a new one!  Just be careful to never wring the fabric when wet, you will be just fine

I do all my laundry with the tap water setting, and I use liquid laundry detergent. Should I be using hot water for towels and/or bed sheets?

I always use warm, sometimes the tap isn't warm enough, but I never use hot, it can damage the thread that holds the towels and sheets together  The cotton can stand the heat, but the polyester thread that sews them together cannot. That is why sometimes your towels pucker at the seams.  Use less detergent and never fabric softener or dryer sheets for your towels to make them most absorbent by the way

It's not a question but more of a comment. I read on the internet a couple of months ago that you're supposed to throw the plastic cups that come with the liquid detergent in with the wash. I was skeptical but bored (the bottle didn't say anything about it) and threw my grimy cup in the wash. It came out sparkling clean. How is this not a thing written on the detergent bottles?!

I do this all the time, but just make sure you didn't put too much of the detergent in the cup.  I think many people don't do it because it is a little noisy.  

Does a washing machine need to be cleaned? Does the answer depend on whether it's a front-loader or a top-loader? If it does need a separate cleaning what is the best type of cleaner for that job?

Your washer and dryer can always use a spa day of their own, and it is easy.  Once or twice a year, pour a gallon of cheap white vinegar and 1 pound of borax in your washing machine and run in on the longest hottest cycle.  At the same time, put a vinegar saturated towel in the dryer.  At the end of this treatment your machines will be good as new!

How can I get clothes I want to consign into the best shape?

Wash them with a gentle soap and then iron them with lots of water to make steam.  Interestingly, I started teaching laundry because my store sold designer vintage and I wanted people to know how to care for the clothes.  You will love the book I am guessing

I recently ran into this problem, but never experienced it previously. It seems my detergent—I’ve used the same type for years—is staining some of my new clothes. The blue is sticking and won’t come out of some of my clothes, mainly red, magenta, and yellow clothes. I can’t get these stains to come out, perhaps because I dried the clothes before I noticed the stains. I’ve changed detergents, but any advice for getting out the detergent stains or are some of the clothes a lost cause? Thank you!

I would wash them with 1 cup vinegar and nothing else.  Vinegar cuts detergent so it should still come out, you might have to repeat an extra time since they went through the dryer.  To make it easier going forward, use a little less detergent, you will still get great results.

What is the difference between tap cold and cold water temperature? Does it matter?

cold water is straight from the pipe, and tap cold adds a little hot.  I use warm, I don't think either is warm enough to activate the detergent, to counteract the energy spent, I use a shorter cycle and wash my clothes less frequently.  Thanks

My towels often have a locker room smell as I'm drying myself. They smell fine as I fold them from the dryer, but as soon as they're exposed to water, they smell musty and fuggy. I have good-quality well water but with no added chemicals.

They have oil and bacteria from your skin trapped in them.  Try using less detergent and using oxygen bleach on warm water.  Super common problem, and the moisture is what activates that musty odor so that is why you don't notice it when they are bone dry

How would you launder and dry a dentist’s cotton scrubs, underwear and socks?

I love going to the dentist, just so you know.  I would wash them in warm, express cycle, with soap and oxygen bleach.  The soap will get them very clean and the oxygen bleach will make them sterile.  

Is it really possible to remove red dye from other clothes after a color-bleeding laundry accident? I've had two incidents with a colored scarf and a red dress ruining other articles of clothing in the load (even with a cold wash, a color-catcher sheet, and the colored items having been previously laundered several times before). Was not able to save the newly pink items using Oxyclean soaks and rewashing multiple times.

It is totally possible, the key is a trip to the craft store.  RIT makes a product called color remover, I have found that it removes the over dye without stripping the original color, BUT please please please test it on the inside hem before you use it.  Try using warm, express wash the extended time cold water takes to clean could be hurting your goals.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE color catchers btw

sometimes clothes, especially T-shirts come out of the dyer with dark stains on them. I set the dryer on delicate or casual and use a Bounce dryer sheet. If I spray the stains and run the shirts back thru the dryer they disappear. What might be causing the stains? Thanks

Usually, they are sugar or oil stains that caramelize in the dryer, I call them phantom stains.  To avoid this, I give everything a spritz of vinegar and water before I put it in the washer

How often should you wash masks? And should you put them in the dryer for extra germ removal?

I wear mine a few times before I wash them, I just hold them over a pot of boiling water until they are damp to sterilize.  I don't put mine in the dryer, I find the washer with a little soap gets everything super clean

yellow underarm on dark tops -will paste of stain solution and bleach alternative or oxy-clean bleach the color out of the underarm area? thanks!!

The paste is the magic.  Stain Solution and Bleach Alternative will take away the stain and not bleach the color. You are clearly a laundry pro!

Is there any other oxygen bleach brand than Oxyclean? Just curious.

There are a few, my favorite is Bleach Alternative from The Laundress, but I know there are a few more available, especially at the co-op.

No question, just a comment: Thank you Jura for booking Patric! This is one of the most informative chats ever on Home Front.

Thank you!

I've seen people on social media "stripping" their laundry (mostly workout clothes). It involves soaking clothes in a tub with Borax, powdered detergent, etc. Do you recommend this? If so, do you have a preferred recipe? If not, how do you recommend laundering workout clothes, sports uniforms, etc. that get particularly sweaty and grimy?

I think the idea of stripping is silly. It totally works, but you are basically stripping out all the detergent  and fabric softener you put it.  Use less to begin with and use something that doesn't leave a residue and you won't have to strip it out later.  Launder your grimy clothes with soap and oxygen bleach, if they are dirty as well as sweaty, toss in 1/4 cup of baking soda.  

Yay or Nay?

Nay Nay Nay all day I say Nay

How would you recommend washing luxury tensely hospital gowns that have to be washed in high heat (if used in a hospital setting) and normal wash when used at home while convalescing?

I would wash them on warm with soap and oxygen bleach.  I would prefer the tencel wasn't in hot, it is hard on the fabric and they aren't going to be any cleaner than warm with oxygen bleach

What actually is "permanent press"? I have this cycle on my machine and I've only ever used it by accident. It seems to pause in the middle? What gives?

It gives polyester a chance to rest so it doesn't wrinkle as much.  honestly I never use it myself, I stick to express wash

Please explain what are soap flakes and where do we get them? And what is an express wash cycle? Is that just mean you wash for the shortest time? Should we always chose extra rinse if our machine offers that? you are really a great resource! Thank you.

Soap flakes are a boutique product, they are available a few places but honestly I can only tell you laundryevangelist.com but I am sure an internet search will find other ones, I just love the ones packaged for me.  Express is about a 30 minute cyle and is long enough to clean but short enough to not do damage.  I don't extra rinse because I use small amounts of soap and don't think I need it.  Thanks so much!

when you're a launder-er?

The Laundress isn't my brand, it is owned by Unilever, I just like it. My brand is The Laundry Evangelist

What's the proper order for putting things in a top load? I do water adn then once the bottom floor of the washer has a layer of water covering it, then dump in the soap and then the clothes. Is this the right order? Does it matter? My spouse turns on the water, dumps in the clothes, then throws the soap on top of the (still dry on the top at this point, usually) clothes.

Oh... not jumping in between spouses.  What is great here, is that you are both right, it doesn't matter.  The only thing that matters is not too much detergent

Am I harming clothes that are "warm" wash if I use cold water? Or vice versa, for that matter.

I don't think cold gets clothes as clean as warm, so are you harming them not really, but they aren't coming as clean in cold so they are getting a workout for nothing.

Is "non-chlorine " bleach (liquid) the same as oxygen bleach (powder)?

Great question!  Not necessarily.  The key to oxygen bleach is that it will have sodium percarbonate as a main ingredient.  Thanks

Do you have a suggestion for how to wash and dry a lambs wool mattress topper? I would love to see it come out looking fluffy and not like popcorn.

I would put it in a mesh bag, I always use mesh bags for wool, it helps hold their shape.  I am guessing that mattress topper is comfy cozy btw

The towels we use to dry clean hands and dishes seem to get gross really quickly -- dingy and even stiff (ugh). Are we just not washing our hands well enough? Is this normal? What gives?

Its totally normal, there is just still some soap there, either left in the towels in the washer, or from your hands. I am guessing that you need less detergent in the wash

Is "stain solution" a particular product?

The product I am thinking of is called stain solution, but honestly any oily feeling stain remover will work

You do need to strip cloth diapers if they have fabric softener or detergent built up, because it blocks the absorbency. But yes, change your wash routine so it doesn't happen again!

exactly,  fabric softener is a total no no for babies in general.

When to use them.....

I don't use borax for clothes, just baking soda when I want to boost the cleaning power.  The oxygen bleach will remove organics like oil from your skin, sweat, and most importantly red wine!

I'm very happy with my 60% linen 40% cotton sheets, but one half is always dingier than the other (I won't say which of us is the culprit). They aren't white, they're natural colored; would Bleach Alternative work on them without fading them?

Bleach alternative will make both sides of the bed interchangeable!  Make sure you use warm water when you wash them

while out of town, a bottle of red (of course) wine exploded. Just the cork, but the whole bottle of red wine spent at least a week soaking into the floor, walls, curtains, rug...it was a mess. I've successfully gotten the stains and residue out of everything except a chair. The armchair was purchased in 1983 (there's a tag on the bottom) and is made of velvet. The wine stain is on the back, so it's not the end of the world if I can't get it out, but I'm very nervous about how to clean velvet. I know this isn't a throw it in the washing machine question, but thought maybe you would have some ideas on how to approach it.

Mix up Bleach Alternative and warm water and sponge it on, Rinse with a towel of clear water and blot dry.  I will recommend you test a hidden area with a swab first, just to make sure it won't bleed.  I am sure that was a huge mess, and a loss of wine.  Tragic all around

but our washer has not been spinning out enough water for a while. We've just been doing an extra spin cycle for each load since having it repaired would cost as much as a new one, but is it possible that a good cleaning (I use the Lemi-Shine product) would fix it?

I would try vinegar and borax for sure, it can't hurt.  Not sure why the spin would change however

All of my white towels have developed random rust-colored streaks that I can't remove. I've pretreated with peroxide and commercial pretreatments, washed in hot water with bleach, but the stains won't budge. Any suggestions?

Eeeks!  This is a new one to me.  I would wash them with hot water and vinegar, but honestly not sure

I've found this with our dishwasher. We need a powerful dishwasher detergent with our water, and we found one, but it only comes in pods, and the pods contain too much.

I totally get it.  Do you use vinegar as your rinse aid?  If not, just put it in the dispenser, you'll love it

What's the best way to keep towels clean and bright? My off-white ones have yellow streaks down the middle, so unappealing.

I always just use oxybleach and soap, I think the yellow streaks might be oil, so try the oxybleach...and of course warm water

Ivory used to make soap flakes. They were with the detergent in the supermarket. I guess they no longer do. Shows my age?

they were one of my first loves....

I am loving the chat today. Thank you! I have a 4 year old front loader washer and dryer. For some reason I thought the manufacturer suggested using pods only in the washing machine. And no dryer sheets in the dryer. Now I am sold on your idea of laundry soap flakes and will try them. Along with the wool dryer ball, scent added. Thank you!

you will love them!

we are moving from a house to an apartment with shared laundry facilities. the smells left by fabric softeners are transferred to our things. we use no dye detergent, oxygen bleach alternative, bleach, vinegar, and a combination of borax, washing soda, and fels naptha depending on the load. when we get clothes from Poshmark they stink of fabric softener and it takes multiple washes to clear. Is there a way to avoid this or speed the process?

Add vinegar to the rinse water, it will cut the fabric softener.  I actually had to think about this for the book, shared facilities....I decided that the best thing was to do towels first since they required oxy bleach, and then when the washer was clean do the other things.  I love your laundry style btw

I do, but the Party of the Second Part prefers Jet-Dry.

do the vinegar when they aren't looking!

I think my mom bought it from the knitter; there are no labels. Can I hand wash in mild soap? I'm worried about the buttons. And although I know these can go a long time between washes, it does need to be washed. Thanks.

handwash in soap for sure.  I have lots of knitters and fiber artists that love soap, and just handwash it. totally fine

I wash my exercise clothes in cold water and an active-wear detergent, to protect the stretchy materials (which I assume are delicate). I don't want to shrink them or otherwise wear them out when I'm particularly hard on them when I wear them. You seem to like hot water--is that really better? And is the active-wear detergent necessary? Thank you!

I always prefer warm to make the detergent more effective.  Active wear detergent contains oxy bleach, so it is super to use or you can use soap and oxybleach to remove the oil  They both will work

Our shower curtain started doing this and we found that our cleaning service was hanging the curtain over the shower rod while they cleaned. The shower rod was causing the stains.

could easily be it, lemon juice takes out rust btw

Wait, is Oxyclean a kind of oxygen bleach? I thought it was an enzymatic cleaner. Can you explain how different stain removers work?

It is both, btw, Oxy bleach removes organic, and vinegar removes oil, soap removes man made stains.  Thanks

Are they literally just flakes of soap? Can I get a big pack of Ivory from Costco and grate them?

They are flakes of LAUNDRY soap, so different than soap for your skin.  People have tried this, and it doesn't work as well

Thank you all SOOO much for the opportunity to talk laundry, this was more fun than a disco ball! Feel free to reach out on social media @laundrypatric or find videos on my website laundryevangelist.com  

Patric - you are amazing - so many questions answered and so much awesome news you can use. This is really helpful and we will refer to this often in days to come. Thank you. Another great chat coming up next week - Michael S. Smith, the Los Angeles designer who decorated the White House for the Obamas, will join us to talk about his new book "Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House." Bye now.

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily Twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering and organizing.

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Patric Richardson
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