Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ancient Chinese secret...

Remember the commercial for Whisk way back in the 70's?  The wife picks up her husband's shirts at the local dry cleaner and is a amazed at how clean they are.  "Ancient Chinese secret", the shop owner answers, while his wife hides the bottle of detergent in the back.
 
My blog post yesterday was about homeschooling.  Last Friday I shared a party I hosted and before that, it was genealogy.  Sometimes I think I suffer from a lack of focus, but then I think...  Wait.  Where was I? 
 
Oh, yeah.  Laundry.  Anyway, I was doing Gerald's shirts yesterday and realized that I have developed a pretty cool system that is probably worth sharing.  So here's my "ancient Chinese secret", although now, I guess it's not a secret any more!  Oh, well. 
 
For years, I sent Gerald's dress shirts to the dry cleaners.  He loved them so stiff that he had to force his arms through the sleeves.  Well, that's all well and good.  Until the price went up to about $2.25 a shirt.  He wears them six days a week.  You do the math.  (No, really.  You do it.  Brack and I worked on Roman numerals yesterday, and I just can't handle any more math!) 
 
Add to that the fact that often, as he was getting dressed for work, he would find a broken button, which meant that shirt came off for me to repair while he used another clean one.  Then the one I fixed the button on was all wrinkly.  Back to the cleaners it went.  He would also complain that the cleaners were shrinking them.  (The sleeves were getting shorter.  I don't think his arms were getting longer.  Now as for the neck, that's another story!  But I digress...)
 
So a couple of years ago, I decided to start doing them myself.  I developed this process and it works great.  No busted buttons, no shrinkage, and most importantly, no weekly laundry bill!
 
I wash his shirts on delicate and in cool water.  As soon as they are done in the spin cycle, I immediately get them out, shake them several times and hang them.  You have to get them out as soon as they finish spinning in order for this to work.  If they sit in the washer, they wrinkle.  (I stick them on the hooks that hold my ironing board until I have them starched, at which point I put them on hangers.  Duh.)   
 
 
While they are still wet, I starch them heavily, and I mean heavily.  I get between four and five shirts starched per bottle.  That's less than a quarter a shirt!  Woo Hoo!
 
Once they are starched, I hang them to dry.  I have a neat little rack in my laundry room, but you could hang them on a shower rod, as well.
 
 
See my little laundry assistant in the bottom right corner?  He works cheap.  A few scratches behind the ears and under the neck, and he's good to go. 
 
I usually do all this in the afternoon after we are finished with school.  It takes about 3 minutes to starch each shirt.  I let them dry over night.  (I have learned to put a beach towel underneath to catch any starch that drips.)  The next morning, they are stiff as a board and ready to be ironed!  I will admit, I don't do all my ironing at once.  It would just get smuched in the closet, and seriously, who has the time?  I pull out a shirt each morning, fill my iron with water, turn that puppy on high, and I can iron his shirt perfectly in less than five minutes.

 
 
I know.  Amazing, right?  Martha Stewart would be soooo impressed.
 
Couple of quick notes.  Once you finish, take a towel and wipe down the top of the ironing board so you don't have a build-up of starch that will dry and burn later on.  Trust me on this.  I speak from experience.  Also be sure that you don't need to iron anything else that day, 'cause your ironing board top is now sopping wet.  But that's ok!  Leave it up overnight and it will be dry and waiting for you the next day. 
 
If you do your shirts at home, you should give it a try!  Just be sure to help me keep it our little secret.  OK?  Yeah, my blog may be a little unfocused, but so is my life!  What about yours?!

P.S.  Ok.  So I just watched the old commercial on Youtube, and guess what?  It was Calgon, not Whisk!  I thought it was "Calgon, take me away."  I'm so confused.  No wonder I can't focus.  Anyway, whatever detergent you use, my "starch them while they're wet" trick really works! 

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