Laundry Tips for Men

Why is this never what I find in the laundry room?
Dear Men,


You suck at doing laundry. Case in point: Partner. When Partner tells me he's been doing laundry, I have this out of body experience where I see myself running in slow motion down the hall to the laundry room in order to survey the damage. What was incorrectly washed in hot water? How many different colors were thrown in the same load? DID HE WASH WOOL?!

But, seriously, did he wash wool?!

As I am a god of laundry - Laundrificus? - I thought I would share my wisdom gleaned lo these many years I've been on this earth. 

Blue Jeans

Men, I realize that you beat the hell out of your blue jeans. I get that they are our go-to source for clothing our nether regions, but, surprisingly enough, they need a bit more TLC than you'd think. 

With a brand new pair of blue jeans, you should wait to wash them until you've worn them at least 5 times. This helps the twill to form to your body, and will allow the jeans to fit you better after you've washed them. Also, if this is the first time you're washing said jeans, they should be hand-washed in your bathtub in a solution of water and vinegar. Not much vinegar, but a little. (I forget the actual ratio. Just put like half a cup in about 1/4 a tub of water.) This will help keep your dye from bleeding off when you do wash them.

After all of this, you can wash your jeans in the washing machine. But from here until eternity, they should be washed inside out in cold water with other blue jeans. 


Don't use it. Just don't. Your clothes will wear out much faster after being washed in hot water. I can't think of any clothing that asks you to please subject it to scalding buckets of hot water and then get tumbled around for an hour in it. Though... If you are going to wash anything in hot water, it should be white cotton basic clothing items. Your undershirts, socks, underwear, etc. These may be washed in hot water with a little bit of bleach. These items, socks especially, tend to be a bit thicker, and if not treated with hot water/bleach can fade to yellow-ish over time. 

But, seriously, good detergent will accomplish the same thing.


Don't wash them in a washing machine. Please? For me? Just don't. Typically they shrink in all the wrong areas, despite material. 

But, since you're going to do it anyway. 

Check to make sure the item you're washing isn't wool. If it's wool, DRY CLEAN IT! I don't care if the label says you can wash it. DO NOT DO IT! Resist the temptation, my friends. RESIST! Dry cleaning is like $3-$5. I promise. 

Anyways, if you're not washing a wool sweater, wash it in cold on your delicate cycle. Do not dry it in the dryer. Get a couple of thick terrycloth towels, lay them out over your washing machine, and lay your washed sweater out over the towels to dry. After several hours, you'll need to turn them over to get the other side. It's like slowly waiting for wet pancakes to get less wet before you flip them.


Thick and Sweaty

Towels, gym clothes, sweatshirts, etc. These can be washed together. Wash them on heavy duty in warm water with the spin setting as high as it will go. This is important, because otherwise they will not be able to dry properly. Also, use a bit more detergent than recommended. Again, because of the thickness of the clothes, more is more in this instance. But, not much more. 

Work Clothes

If it's not the aforementioned wool sweater (DO NOT WASH), and you wear it to work, it should be washed on the delicate cycle at all times. Your work clothes are worn out faster than almost anything. Whether it's white, plaid, khaki, or whatever, wash it in cold on the delicate cycle. This will help preserve the stitching - so it doesn't wear out and cause rips - the color, the fit, etc. 

Remember to dry it on the delicate cycle as well!

Separate Your Piles

This one is debatable. If you use cold water, you don't have to worry about it so much. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention separating your clothes into true whites, brights, and darks. Personally, I don't do this, as I have a front loading washing machine, and my clothes don't sit in the water long enough to take much of a bleed. this thing. It's better than not. 

Dry Cleaners Are Your Friend

Seriously, find the nearest $3-$5 dry cleaners (believe me, you have one near you) and use it. Use it for work clothes. Use it for sweaters, jackets, new denim, etc. Drive through McDonald's or Starbucks one less day a week and have nice looking clothes.

What about detergent?

Here's the thing: I've never in my life found a detergent that rules them all. My mother swears by Tide, but I've used Gain, All, and even something cheap like Dreft. As long as you follow the above tips, you should be fine. However....

Spend the money on liquid fabric softener. I use Snuggle. It tends to be cheaper than the store brand in most places, and I like the way it makes the towels all soft and snuggly. 

OxyClean has done well for a reason. Buy it. Use it. Don't buy a knock off. Buy the real thing. 

Unless.... You use Tide Pods. These little babies have come out in the last year, and I'm in love with them. They have a stain fighter that works just as well, a brightener, and detergent. You end up using less chemicals - which is good for everyone - and it works just as well. So buy the Pods, some Snuggle, and some dryer sheets to fight static, and you're gold.

Those are my tips for laundering your goodies! Do YOU have any?

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. I was nodding along until I read "Spend the money on liquid fabric softener." Noooo!

    Never use the stuff on towels or washcloths: There are some nasty chemicals in fabric softener which coat the fabric making it *less absorbent*.

    This stuff should be called "wear out your clothes juice." It will destroy them faster than hot water ever would. Natural fabric softener: 1/2 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle.

    My laundry cred: (in addition to doing my own laundry for 20 years) I've worked as a theatrical wardrobe supervisor- my job was literally to do the laundry (make, repairs, keep it all in order, etc, but mostly laundry). You learn what makes things keep and what makes things fade over the long term, especially when it has to pop under stage lights.

    1. Thanks Beth! I'd not had that experience, but thanks for the info! I got a lot of laundry knowledge from my years in theatre, too. I'll have to try the vinegar. I still think if you're going to use a liquid softener, the cheaper brands are the way to go. A bit more watered down. Not as thickly laid on. And it can all depend on front loading or top loading washers. Your clothes sit in chemicals in one, in the other less is used and they're never sitting in them. My experience might be based on using a front loader.

    2. I have sensitive skin and vinegar is a GREAT option to add into each load in place of fabric softener. Removes odor but doesn't add any scent and makes clothes soft. I will never use anything else now!

  2. I never knew about the jeans! No wonder mine wear out so fast. And here, doing ten loads a week (at least) I thought I knew everything about laundry...Thanks!

  3. I have to agree with Beth. Grab a set of those prickly looking blue balls (shush) at the Bed, Bath and Beyond and throw them in with your laundry. Not as soft as Snuggle, I will admit, but your towels will actually dry you off instead of just moving the water around.

    It's nice to see someone who cares about their laundry - it's almost a lost art. All three of my kids, male and female, do their own laundry and do it well.

  4. Just an FYI for people with kids- don't use fabric softener on your kids' sleepwear as it increases the flammability. As somebody who is terribly allergic to Tide, I'd like to recommend Method's laundry products.

  5. I think the only things I wash in hot water (not having white clothes) are sheets, pillows, and towels. Mostly to kill bacteria and such. Also, I have cats, so I know they track bacteria on their paws EVERYWHERE- including blankets, when they get on the bed. I'm not too worried about colours bleeding there, since I tend to only buy dark things to begin with, and I usually colour-test the bright stuff in the sink before washing it.

    I think simplicity has dictated many of my clothing/fabric choices- I avoid 'dry clean only' anything, no matter how pretty, and I avoid wool or other easily-damaged or easily-shrunken things when possible. Without a washer of my own, I want two categories of clothes: 'normal' and 'delicate'. This also means reducing how much stress I have when I send DH out to do laundry for me. Just sort out the delicates, and there's not much he can mess up! :P

    I've never done that thing with jeans before, though. I've had one pair for about 12 years now, and they look about the same as they did when I got them... from a second-hand store. Maybe older pairs stand up better than newer ones?

    1. Just a couple of responses:

      On using hot water to kill bacteria - If I'm not mistaken, most kinds of bacteria you'd be killing need water around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or 121 degrees Celsius. While hot water that's around 130 degrees F (the temp of most "hot water" settings on most washing machines) can kill some bacteria, it's not killing all of it unless you're coupling it with bleach or antibacterial detergent.

      On older jeans standing up - This may have been facetious, but it's a comment I hear a lot. "I got my jeans from a second hand shop and they've never faded." This is used to say a couple things: 1) someone takes extra special care of their clothes or 2) they just don't make 'em like they used to. Unfortunately, both are incorrect.

      By the time a pair of denim gets to the secondhand store, most of the original dye is gone. The kind of dye from denim that can rub off on light fabrics and needs to set...that dye was gone when you got the denim. So...there wasn't much more fading that could happen. Also, for the most part, denim is denim. Cotton twill is cotton twill. I've worked at companies where the denim cost hundreds of dollars, and the cotton twill in it is the exact same as Old Navy. The big difference is stitching, cut, and fit. know...FYI

  6. NEVER use anything unnatural (my mom and I use brands like Seventh Generation). No fabric softeners or chlorine bleaches EVER (non-chlorine bleaches are fine). And I always wash my stuff in cold water--though I settle for warm at the university residence that I'm living in because their washers don't have cold.

  7. I agree with most of your laundry tips. However, I do not use fabric softener nor dryer sheets. The extra chemicals are too hard on the kiddos with eczema problems.

    I did have to laugh to myself about the "work clothes" category. I was reading it and at first thought you are crazy. Work clothes around here mean clothes that you go out to feed the farm animals in, gardening and yard work, do coal mining in, and wear on the construction site. Then I realized, you meant work clothes as in office wear. hehehehe

  8. Laundry: I use the SA8 range from Amway; concentrated; great value 4 money; environmentally friendly; less packaging; no fillers & great 4 washing machines as there is no build up of "fats" in the pipes that can clog up a washing machine. Also rinses out well so no scratchiness when wearing clothes & clothes also last longer.


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