Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore
by Patric Richardson with Karin B. Miller
©2021, Flatiron Books
$25.99
185 pages

Tomorrow’s outfit is on a chair over there.

That’s where it’s been since you last washed it. What you wore today came from a basket and off a hanger, the shirt needed ironing, there was a tiny stain on the pants but who noticed? And you just bought new socks, so there’s that. Time to do the wash?  Yeah, but get a load of this: “Laundry Love” by Patric Richardson (with Karin B. Miller). 

In one of his earliest memories, Patric Richardson’s uncle holds him aloft so that Richardson could watch laundry swimming in the washer. He was almost a baby then, but the fascination was set: At age three, Richardson was “over the moon” when he received a toy washing machine as a birthday gift. He remembers that it was Harvest Gold.

Growing up, Richardson absorbed washday secrets from an extended family of women, and he learned the appeal of laundry hung on a line outside. While at the University of Kentucky, he met three professors who taught him about textiles, and employers educated him further. Love of fabric eventually became Richardson’s career, and laundry is his love-language: “Caring for your loved ones’ clothes shows them love.”

The first thing to know, Richardson states, is that “our clothes are bossy.” If something you enjoy wearing says “Dry Clean Only” on the label, lay it on the kitchen counter, grab a pair of scissors and cut that label off because, “anything can be washed at home.” 

Here, you’ll learn how to save time on wash day. Find out why big-brand-name detergents are unsafe, and see what you need to care for your clothes properly. Learn to iron, eliminate horrible stains, wash woolens and other awkward-to-clean items and see how to rescue yellowed linens and special-event clothing like a pro.

Remember, says Richardson: “You don’t have to do laundry — you get to do laundry.”

These days, though, author Patric Richardson doesn’t “get to” very often. His husband, he says, does their wash while Richardson runs a clothing store and offers “Laundry Camp” at the Mall of America. But since not everyone can be a happy camper, there’s “Laundry Love.”

If you’re thinking that a book about joyfully washing clothes would be a mighty skinny book, you’re right, but laundry is only a part of this story here. The rest is biography and a love-letter to Appalachain and Southern women. In giving props to the women who raised him, Richardson shows how his interest in fabric grew too; the subject of textiles, which may be perceived as mundane by many, is treated in this light as something precious and accessible.  

If you come for the biography, you’ll be glad you stayed for the hints as Richardson shows how even the most delicate items can be safely home-cleaned. That fur you love? Done. That stinky-perfumed vintage item you found? Clean. Ahhhhhhh, so pick up the undies in the corner, use grandma’s linens, shop thrift-stores with impunity. Go ahead, fear-free. Having “Laundry Love” should take a load off your mind.

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