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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Secrets On How To Have Less Laundry Part I

I have received a fashion question more than once via email and blog comments and thought that it seemed like a good idea to answer it on a grand scale.

“You often mention that the pieces you wear are from several seasons ago, but they still look great. What’s the secret?”

The number one reason that clothing wears out is from repeated washing and using a hot dryer ~ plain and simple. Washing and drying our clothing, much to the glee of detergent manufacturers, is something we Americans tend to do excessively which basically wears out the fibers and fades the yarn dye. Not to mention excessive washing creates an overflowing laundry hamper. 

I cut down on my laundry by following a few “how to’s and queues” from Europeans.

Most Europeans wear their clothing at least 2-3 times between washings. The simple reason is that clothing is very expensive in Europe, as is the cost associated with the electricity needed to run a washer and dryer.

Europeans also avoid dry cleaning services. It is not only three times as expensive to dry clean clothing in Europe but they are quite familiar that the chemicals are not only bad for the environment, they are really harsh on clothing and break down the fibers even quicker than a machine washing. Just because the tag says “Dry Clean Only” that isn’t always the truth. I personally hand wash all my delicate cashmere, wool, silk and cotton pieces then air dry. They come out sweet smelling and generally only need a small touch up from an iron. So do a bit of research and possibly save yourself some money.

If you are crinkling up your nose at the thought of wearing something more than once between washings consider for a moment popular fashion blogs such as The Sartorialist, which often feature Europeans in their images. It is quite evident that most Europeans are very well put together.

So what is their secret? Well, there are several.

When cooking, cleaning, gardening or crafting European men, women, and children wear aprons or large smocks/shirts. I NEVER wore an apron until I moved to Crete. Now, if I am working at home I am rarely without one. If you protect yourself from spills and stains in the first place then you lesson the need to do laundry.

They also use a napkin to protect their clothing when eating. Bibs are perfect for young infants and toddlers unable to negotiate with a napkin. I know, it sounds simple. But how many times could you have avoided a stain if you just would have used a napkin? :)

So, I know what you’re thinking “That’s great for the outside of clothing, but what about the thing nobody wants to talk about~ body odors?”


Most men and women in Europe spend as much on their undergarments as they do clothing. Undershirts, camisoles, slips and tap pants all provide a barrier between the body and clothing. The undergarments are of course changed daily.

Oh there you go crinkling up your nose again. I am NOT talking about the polyblend nightmares that most American stores try to sell us. I am speaking of wondrously soft silk, linen or cotton. Don’t knock it ‘til ya try it. 

So, living in America where does one procure such things? Well, I have found vintage delights for mere pennies at thrift stores, ebay and etsy. Cotton unmentionables have also been located at Target and other chain stores. It just requires some searching. Anthropologie is also great about carrying well made delicates made from natural fabrics.  If you wait patiently they often go on sale for a very good price.


I have found some fabulous undergarments from Anthro over the years and have never paid over $20.

dress 058

Then of course when I have gotten really desperate I’ve made slips from vintage pillow cases too.

There are also benefits beyond less laundry when wearing undergarments. Such as you will feel pretty and pulled together from tip to toe. Also, as someone who also been married for 14 years, I can tell you that your overall efforts will probably be very much appreciated. Wink, wink.

Bolero jacket circa 1999.

dress 056

Are you ready to do less laundry? You can also read part 2 HERE.


Linking to

Kelly’s Corner


Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Great tips Laura!! I love this idea!!

TRay said...

Love this post!!

Congrats on #10 in the Circle of Moms!!! AWESOME!



Pat@Life At Lydias House said...

Great post! I have clothes that I am still wearing that I know are at least 8 years old! Obviously, they are not trendy but are more classics. We as Americans have way too many objects that we use for a fairly short period of time then dispose of.

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Less laundry does sound good! You are so right about the apron. Think about older days, the mother had her house dress and wore an apron over it to cook clean everything and I am sure she washed it once a week!

Karena said...

Laura I knew You would be the Winner, Congrats!!

Great tips on adding life to our fine clothing!

2012 Artist Series featuring Theresa Cheek

Art by Karena

Bloggymom said...

Excellent post.

I need to wear my aprons more often.

Sally@Enlightenment for the Sleepy said...

Great post! I'm a brit in the US and with a ton of laundry I need all the help I can get! In this house the habit is that all underwear, and tops are worn fresh every day,~ Jeans can be worn for a couple of days, and sweaters (rarely used in Florida). I try to get the boys to wear their pajamas for more than one night but they refuse! Keep sending the tips, Sally xx

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Laura, I am a big advocate of avoiding the dryer. After a gentle wash I usually hang all of my knit stops and even my jeans will be air dried. I learned years ago that the dryer "cooks" my clothes. Most knits will shrink and distort in the dryer after repeated (and sometimes even one) exposure to the dryer. The Apron is something our grandmothers used to cook, clean and do all types of chores, in their dresses I might add :-) Thanks for the great tips.

Creations By Cindy said...

Great tips Laura. Enjoyed this post so much. I am in total agreement on saving money when it comes to Laundry. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

Iris said...

As a German (originally from a city called Stuttgart)I can only second everything that you said. Most Germans don't even have a dryer to this day. Laundry is dried on the line. I still air dry our towels out in the sun because it makes them more absorbent and it helps the planet. A person who has good personal hygiene can definitely wear outer garments 2 or 3 times. I wear an apron for cooking, but I have to admit that it makes me feel a little fuddy-duddy. But it's still better than having your clothing splattered with cooking juices. I'm thinking about investing in a purely white apron that makes me look like I work in a French bistro. Have followed your blog for a long time and really enjoy it. Greatly enjoy the "European touch" about past experiences while on the continent, Royal weddings, and such.

Priscilla said...

Well WE all knew you were a "perfect 10", but it is nice to get validation!
I voted every day, and I'd have voted the "Chicago way" if I could have done, but it wouldn't let me. Hahaha

Auntie Em said...

Perfect as always! Yea for placing in the top half! :)

I love pretty underpinnings. They never seem to make anything pretty in Womanly sizes. :I

Thanks for sharing the lovely post and hope you are having a good week!

Blondie's Journal said...

Great tips, Laura! With clothing that never goes out of style, you have to treat it well!


Jill Elaine said...

Amen to the nice undergarments!
Great post Laura:)

mpainter said...

what a great post.have been looking for cotton tap pants,any suggestions? thanks so much and have helped your voting! congrats.

Maple Lane said...

Wonderful tips, Laura. I remember having soft, cotton slips when I was a little girl (made like a shift). They were so comfy.
Praying for you guys as you seek a new place to call home. God bless.

My name is Darlene Payan said...

Congratulations! We love reading all your posts over and over. Goes to show why you are on the Top list.


Amy Jo said...


I loved this post! The dress you have on is so pretty. I wanted to tell you how happy I am that you sold your home. I hope you have an easy move... sometimes moving can be exhausting. Congrats on the perfect 10 as well.

Blessings to you,
Amy Jo

CAS said...

Not only does this cut down on laundry, but for me, ironing. Yes, I iron most of my clothes & some of my!

Modern Country Lady said...

Amen to that.You are so right and being European myself ( how odd that sounds to me ) I can confirm 100 % that you are correct!!

Maria Elena said...

Laura, I really loved reading this post. Wonderful tips and information! I did grow up in Europe (Spain) and everything you said is absolutely right. My Mom taught us from a very small age to change our nice school clothes as soon as we got home, for what she called our "house clothes", which consisted of sweat pants and a T shirt, or some other clothes that were already a little older and worn out. Believe or not, without even thinking about it, I thought my children to do the same thing. LOL It was great reading your post!

Vel Baricuatro-Criste, MD said...

Thank you for the wonderful tips! I totally agree with Europeans in terms of not washing everything right away after 1 wear especially during winter. Summer time though it gets more difficult. So usually in our household we wash more during the summer months. Also, depending on your profession, you might wanna wash more, e.g. Like me who work with sick kids all day, I have to, for my family health's sake, I have to wash my clothes, daily. :-(

daysease said...

Iris, Southern Italy is there, too... hahaha... Laura, dear, congratulations on the new home, and may God bless it and all who enter!! :-)

This post was too on target not to mention in one of my blogs, so, I posted it... Though, I did not see the "create a link" button until just now, here is the link to the post I created...

Hug, and best wishes...



Thanks for the tip Laura. I wash and iron once a week, Hubby's and mine's and I take very necessary things to the cleaners, like suits, but mostly I try washing them at home. I wash my underwear by hand so they don't go out of shape or stretch out. Yes, we need to save energy in every little way we can at home...and water too. Just dropped by from Kelly's Korner. Enjoy the weekend.


Laura, you look so pretty in your dress and bolero.

BerryMorins Bits & Tips said...

I have a few aprons but I only wear them while cooking or scrubbing the tub or floor.
I love the idea of cotton undergarments.