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The Laundry Evangelist Answers Your Cleaning Prayers


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Patric Richardson, the Laundry Evangelist

Jesi Hoolihan

During a recent “Good Question” segment on WCCO News, reporter Heather Brown talked to Patric Richardson about laundry sheets. The owner of Minneapolis boutique Mona Williams and noted laundry enthusiast responded by saying that he prefers to use an aluminum ball instead—it works like a dryer sheet by dissipating static without the dryer sheet’s lubricating chemical coat, he explained. After the close of the segment, Frank Vascellaro asked if he had a blog. Brown responded, “He should, shouldn’t he?”

Thus, the Laundry Evangelist was born. Richardson recently launched thelaundryevangelist.com, a blog about the art of laundry, as well as a series of free workshops dubbed Laundry Camps, debuting this week. I chatted with him about how he fell in love with laundry, his top laundry tips, and what to expect at his camps.

Why did you decide to start a blog on cleaning—aside from Frank Vascellaro’s suggestion?

So many people ask me, "How do I get out such and such?" It just kind of started happening, because I carry [high-end detergent brand] the Laundress [at Mona Williams], and people ask about how to care for the items they buy from me. I tell people that I wash my suits, I don’t dry clean anything. And then word spread. Then there’s also people who love to talk about laundry. There are a couple of people who talk about laundry in the context of a lifestyle blog, but no one who is doing a blog just on laundry, apart from laundry brands themselves.

How did you first develop a passion for laundry?

My mother and grandmother were meticulous about laundry—everything was ironed, everything was pressed, everything was perfect. When I was 10 years old, I wanted to iron my own clothes. It really happened when I got into college, because I wanted nice clothes but I didn’t have dry cleaning money, and I was getting a textiles degree, so I was lucky enough to be able to get advice from my professors.

How did you come up with the name, the Laundry Evangelist?

Oddly enough, the Star Tribune came up with the name. I was going to call the blog the Launderer, someone said, "No you’re proclaiming your love for laundry, so you should be the Laundry Evangelist. It suits you."

The Laundress product line

Courtesy the laundress

What are some topics you plan to cover in the blog in the next couple of months?

I’m going to talk about how to buy a washer and dryer, because a lot of people have asked, I’m going to cover a lot of stains—that’s what people ask me about the most. I’m going to cover how to iron, how to sort, what water temperature to use, laundry hacks—when I was in college, we didn’t have a laundry machine, so I would hand wash a lot, and so I’ll talk about how I hand wash many items at once. I want things that make your laundry fun, or easier. I’ve gathered my favorite laundry products over time, like my iron—a Rowenta Steam Generator, it’s pressurized steam like what they have at the dry cleaner.

I hear you’re not a fan of dry cleaning. Is it really possible to hand- or machine-wash items that say “dry-cleaning only” on their tags?

I haven’t gone to the dry cleaner in three years. The manufacturer wants you to enjoy your garment for the lifetime of the garment, and the dry cleaner will do it appropriately. So they put it on there because they don’t want you to ruin the garment. A lot of care tags in Europe will tell you how to wash things, because Europeans are more familiar with washing more delicate fabrics.

You also are anti-bleach. What’s your alternative?

The problem with bleach is it’s so harsh. It may get the result you want, but it’s so hard on the garment. You can use hydrogen peroxide or an oxygen-based cleaner. The Laundress makes one.

What will you be covering in the Laundry Camps?

I go over stains, because that’s what everybody wants to know—ballpoint pen, red wine, salad dressing. I go over sorting clothes. When to use mesh bags, which make a lot of washing possible. How to iron, because there’s a way to iron that’s much faster than the traditional way. I’ll also explain what to do to avoid getting moths and what to do get rid of moths. It’s fun, it’s clean clothes and dirty martinis. We ask questions, we do stuff that’s very hands on.

What are your top three laundry tips?

I'll give you five. Button everything up before you wash it (it will reduce the abrasion, which will make your clothing last longer), use the shortest possible cycle in the washing machine; use less detergent, because I can promise you’re using too much; pre-treat everything—I keep a bottle of vinegar nearby, it’s a great stain remover and it’s not hard on your clothes; and don’t bake your clothes in the dryer, because it’s hard on your clothing.

Bookmark Richardson's blog and sign up for one of his Laundry Camps—taking place Jan. 13, Jan. 20, and Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. at Mona Williams (18 University Ave. NE., Minneapolis)—at thelaundryevangelist.com.

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