BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- He’s been called the "man that will make you fall in love with your laundry."
“I'll shoot for love, but I'll at least make you fall in like with laundry,” said Patric Richardson, owner of Mona Williams boutique at the Mall of America and founder of Laundry Camp.
A former buyer for Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom with a college degree in textiles, Patric's passion is teaching people there's no such thing as “dry-clean only.”
“They throw it in a big drum of dry cleaning fluid, and it tumbles around in the dry cleaning fluid and they take it out and hang it up. That's it. It makes me mad that people think they have to dry clean when it's so easy to wash,” said Richardson.
So many customers of his luxury women’s and vintage women’s clothing store began asking about how to care for their garments that Richardson decided to create Laundry Camp, a 90-minute crash course on everything from how to separate clothes before laundry to washing fur coats and wedding dresses.
“I actually started it as ‘Clean Clothes and Dirty Martinis,’ because I thought it would be a lot more fun if you were sloshed. But I can't serve martinis at the mall,” said Richardson.
Now, he has class once a month in the back of Mona, teaching eager students how to wash anything, and I mean anything.
Here are Patric’s instructions:
Flip garment inside out. Put in a mesh bag. Wash in the machine on warm water setting, quick cycle, and use a little laundry soap, not detergent. To dry, don’t use the dryer. Allow to air dry. Be sure most of the water is out of the garment before you pull it out of the washer, because the weight of a saturated garment as you pick it up can stretch it.
Flip the pants and the jacket inside out. Put them in separate mesh bags. Wash with warm water with soap. Air dry. Iron or steam to free up wrinkles. No real trick here.
Why Soap? Richardson says it has simple ingredients, and it tends to wash away cleaner than detergent. It's generally less harsh on fabrics too, he says, but a good soap will cost you a bit more money. Mona Williams retails Richardson’s three-ingredient blend for $22 a bag. He recommends using 1 ½ Tablespoon per load.
Spot treat stains (like salad dressing) with vinegar. Throw it in a mesh bag. Wash on warm cycle in machine. Lay down tie on table or bathtub to dry. Don’t drape over a hanger or chair until it is dry.
I know what you're thinking. How can this be? This stuff is not supposed to get wet, right?
Richardson says it's not the water that hurts these fabrics.
“The sheep got wet. I mean, it's a wool suit. The sheep was wet. I mean, the farmer did not dry clean the sheep,” he said.
Instead, it's abrasions that harm garments. The flopping around wildly in the washing machine, or the repetitive wear and tear that damage and pill delicate materials.
This is why he recommends turning garments inside out and packing them snugly into a mesh bag before tossing them in the wash.
Also, Richardson never washes on cold.
He says water at least needs to be 62 degrees to activate most soaps and detergents. Unless your wash machine blends some hot water with cold water to reach a temperature above 62 degrees (many machines today do this).
He says most tap water in Minnesota comes out much colder than that, which will make your wash much less effective.
Perhaps you’ve been in the situation where your dog has “spit up” on the bed or the baby lost lunch on the comforter. Here’s what to do, according to Richardson:
Treat the stain with a mixture of sodium percarbonate (common bleach alternative) mixed with water. One teaspoon per eight ounces of water will do. Dunk stain in the solution or rub the solution into the stain. Then wash the comforter on warm with soap, and throw it in the dryer on low temperature with tennis balls. The balls will “beat the devil out of the comforter,” according to Richardson.
I know. Can down feathers get wet?
Richardson says, predictably at this point, that the geese lived with the sheep, and they too got wet on the farm.
Egyptian Cotton Dress Shirts
Spray the collar, armpits, and cuffs with a 50/50 water and white vinegar solution. According to Richardson, the acidity of the vinegar cuts through the alkalinity of the perspiration.
Well, you paid for that indigo. Keep it blue! Richardson says to soak new jeans in water with ¼ cup of salt to help preserve the color.
Then flip them inside out and wash them on warm with soap. Air dry.
If the color of your jeans begins to fade, you can wash old jeans with a new pair to help bleed new life into the old ones.
Take it outside and sweep snow on it. Let the snow sit on it, and then use a stiff broom to sweep it off.
“The Scandinavian people do it. It works,” said Richardson.
Lay it in the bathtub and wash with a little soap. Let the soap water drain. Then refill the tub with fresh water to rinse. Do not pick up the garment until it is nearly dry.
Turn inside out and wash in a mesh bag on warm. Air dry. Before it’s almost dry, brush the fabric. Then to restore the plush look and feel, steam from the inside out.
Red Wine, Blood, Vomit, Grass Stains and Other Organic Stains
Richardson says the trick to any organic stain is sodium percarbonate, a granulated bleach alternative.
For instance, take a white shirt with a red wine stain and swirl it into a few cups of water with a few teaspoons of sodium percarbonate. The red stain chemically reacts in the solution and turns blue instantly. The blue stain will easily wash out in warm water and soap in the wash machine, according to Richardson.
This stain is all about using rubbing alcohol and a horse hair brush to firmly, but safely, scrub away the stain. When you get about 80 percent of the ink passed onto a cloth behind your garment, then throw it in the wash with soap.
Richardson says this is one of the trickiest stains, because of the oily coating around the pigment of the stain. TO get it out, use white vinegar and a horse hair brush to break through the oil. Repeat this step twice while rubbing the stain on top of a rag under the garment. Once the oil is lifted, you can scrub the stain with soap until most of it is gone. Then wash in the machine on warm with soap.
For the love of laundry – Richardson pleads that you don't use dryer sheets.
“I am the laundry evangelist. So I am allowed to say fabric softener is from hell. Dryer sheets melt on your clothes to make a clothing that is artificially soft,” he said.
Instead, try taking a yard-long piece of aluminum foil, roll it into a tight ball and throw it in the dryer. The metal is a conductor that will steal the static from the load.