Laundry List—Expert DIY Tips and Tricks for Getting Everything Clean

The “Laundry Guy” takes pride in helping you care for your clothes.

Written by:Amy Nelson Sander
Photographed by:Steve Henke
Closeup of the counter of a laundry room with a farmhouse sink and Cambria Brittanicca Gold quartz countertop

Make your laundry room a place you want to spend time in. Your laundry is one of the hardest working rooms in the house. Cambria quartz countertops, a deep sink, and great lighting make it functional and beautiful. Cambria design shown: Brittanicca Gold Warm™

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Patric Richardson loves doing laundry and thinks you should too. The self- proclaimed “Laundry Evangelist” from St. Paul, MN, says you can ditch your dry cleaner and care for your clothes with a few basic tips.

Voted “best dressed” in high school, Richardson credits his Kentucky grandmother for his passion for clothing and apparel. The laundry camp workshops he ran in his vintage clothing store called Mona Williams at the Mall of America were so popular that they led to Richardson’s recently released memoir, Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore, and TV series on discovery+ called The Laundry Guy, which also will air on HGTV in late summer.

You might be surprised at the satisfaction that comes with skipping the dry cleaner and laundering your own “dry clean only” pieces. Subscribe to Richardson’s methods that take you back to the basics by using club soda and vinegar and even vodka as common, chemical-free ingredients. Richardson says all you need for success is some confidence and creativity. We can all retrain ourselves to clean, revive, and care for our laundry and garments in our own house and thumb our noses at conventional dry cleaning.

A homey laundry room with a farmhouse sink and Cambria Brittanicca Gold quartz countertop

Cambria design shown: Brittanicca Gold Warm

DIY vs. Dry Clean

Richardson’s top tip is to know that everything can be laundered. “With a wool suit, nobody remembers the sheep got wet. The farmer did not dry clean the sheep,” he says. But to clean your clothes yourself, never wash on cold because the water temperature needs to be at least 62 degrees to activate most soaps. He uses the warm water setting, cold rinse, and express cycle.

Closeup of the counter of a laundry room with a farmhouse sink and Cambria Brittanicca Gold quartz countertop

Cambria design shown: Brittanicca Gold Warm

Laundry Tips & Tricks

Have a favorite garment with a stain or wondering how to care for your items? Don’t be afraid of your laundry, Richardson says. Everything can be cared for without dry cleaning. Take a look at his best advice:

  • Cashmere
    Flip garment inside out and put in a mesh bag. Wash in the machine on the warm water setting and use a little laundry soap, not detergent. Richardson prefers the quick cycle setting on his washer. Allow to air dry instead of using the dryer. 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 can stretch it.
  • Wool Suit 
    Flip the pants and the jacket inside out and put them in separate mesh bags. Wash with warm water with soap, then air dry. You can iron or steam out any wrinkles.
  • Silk 
    Spot treat stains with vinegar, blot dry, and put in a mesh bag. Wash on the warm cycle and lay flat to dry. Don’t drape over a hanger or chair until it is dry.
  • Down Comforter
    If your comforter has any stains, treat with a mixture of soap flakes and water. Wash the comforter on warm, and throw it in the dryer on low temperature with tennis balls or dryer balls. Yes, down feathers can get wet, just as wool can.
  • Egyptian Cotton Dress Shirts
    Spray the collar, armpits, and cuffs with a solution of half water and half white vinegar. The vinegar is an odor remover that cuts through the alkalinity of perspiration.
  • Blue Jeans
    Keep your indigo jeans true blue by soaking new jeans in water with ¼ cup of salt to help preserve the color. Then flip them inside out and wash on warm with soap. Air dry.
  • Mink Coat
    Fill the bathtub with water and lay the coat in the water with some soap. Let the soap water drain and refill the tub with fresh water to rinse. Do not pick up the garment until it is nearly dry.
  • Velvet
    Turn the garment inside out and wash in a mesh bag on warm water. Air dry, but before it’s almost dry, brush the fabric and steam from the inside out to restore the plushness.
  • Red Wine, Blood, Vomit, Grass Stains, and Other Organic Stains
    Use sodium percarbonate, a granulated bleach alternative, with all organic stains. For a red wine stain, use a few teaspoons of sodium percarbonate with water. The red stain chemically reacts in the solution and turns blue instantly. The blue stain will wash out in warm water in the washing machine.
  • Ink
    Use rubbing alcohol and a horse hair brush to firmly, but safely, scrub away the stain with a cloth under the garment. When you have about 80 percent of the ink transferred onto that cloth, throw garment in the wash with soap.
  • Lipstick
    Lipstick is one of the trickiest stains because of the oily coating around the pigment of the stain. 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.
  • Richardson’s favorite products?
    Richardson prefers the simple ingredients in laundry soap over harsh detergents. But a good soap will cost you a bit more money. You can buy Richardson’s 3-ingredient blend at laundryevangelist.com. With stains, Richardson recommends using soap and brush, but not a toothbrush. He prefers horsehair brushes, also available on his site.

[Updated on 2/5/2024]

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