The Laundry Evangelist, Patric Richardson, teaches Zibby all of his tips and tricks on how to save your clothes and make doing the laundry more fun. From washing everything on a warm express cycle to hanging a disco ball in your laundry room, Patric is on a mission to extend the life of garments and turn an everyday chore into your new favorite hobby.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Patric. Thanks for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Patric Richardson: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. This is going to be super fun.

Zibby: I hope so. I’m excited. Tell everybody, please, about your book, Laundry Love, and your really unique and awesome career and how you’ve encapsulated all of it in this fantastic book.

Patric: The book, Laundry Love, I believe that you can wash everything you own and that nothing has to go to the dry cleaner. The book tells you how to do that. It takes you from sorting your clothes to washing to removing stains. Then along the way, it’s also a love letter to these women in my life who were very pivotal. The book actually started with the idea of the women and also my love of laundry, my Granny who was very influential and very important in my life, my mother, my stepmother, and just these other women in how I grew up. I grew up in Eastern Kentucky. The book actually starts with some early laundry memories that I have. Then it takes you through. When you’re done reading the book, I hope that you learn to love Eastern Kentucky and the Appalachians as much as I do. I hope that you wash all of your clothes and you don’t send anything to the dry cleaner. I hope that you confidently wear everything you own. I think that’s part of the fun of having great clothes. So many people have these beautiful things, and they’re afraid to wear them because they’re afraid they’ll get a stain on them. I believe that you wear it all. Once you read you the book, you confidently will throw on your very best jacket to go to the grocery store.

Zibby: I love how you interwove some of the memoir stuff about your family and even those recipes in the back. There was one for a sour cream cake that I might have to just try this weekend. The advice you give is so great. I do so much laundry, and so I think about this a lot. There’s all this time where you really can’t do too much else while you’re doing the laundry. You had some tips that are easy to change for my next load of laundry and then some that are more of an investment in the products that I should get, or we all should get, but I’ll just take it for me. The first thing you said that I can do really easily, for instance, is always do an express wash and always wash on warm. Those two things can change right away.

Patric: It’s a game changer. I believe that a family of five can do all of their laundry in four and a half hours. One of the ways you do that is go to the express cycle. The reason the express cycle works is actually the warm water. The warm water boosts the cleaning power of whatever you’re using so that you can shorten the cycle. That’s the beauty of it. You speed up the time. Then you can just go to this quick cycle. If you’re a mom, then you have other things to do. These two-hour cycles are ridiculous. They’re hard on your clothes, first of all, because you’re just beating them to death. Then also, who has two hours? If I’m going to spend two hours, I want to read or needlepoint. I don’t want to watch the washing machine, and I love to watch the washing machine.

Zibby: I love that you got that as a present when you were three. I didn’t even know they made toy little washing machines. That’s pretty awesome.

Patric: Totally. I did. I was so excited to get it. It’s funny. Now I’m scouring eBay trying to find another one because I kind of need to recapture that.

Zibby: Totally. Somebody has to start producing that toy again. That’s pretty awesome. I do at least two to four loads of laundry every day, particularly on the weekends. I have four kids and my husband and me and everybody. There’s just a lot of clothes. When I read your book, I felt like I was doing it all wrong. The first thing that I was worried about is you said after fifty washings, you’ve ruined the piece of clothing forever. Now I’ve realized that — go ahead. No, tell me.

Patric: It’s not ruined. It’s just, that’s the life of a quality garment, is about fifty washings and fifty dryings. If you stop the dryer, you get more washings, which matters a lot for you and your husband because your clothes aren’t really going to change in size. I always say throw kids’ clothes in the dryer. The reality is they’re going to outgrow them before they wear out, so who cares? Even if they’re beautiful things, you can pass them down. You could have four children and pass the same item down four times, and it probably still won’t wear out. Not because I don’t think you should care for children’s clothes. It’s just the life, fifty washings and fifty dryings, kids just don’t get that kind of life out of their clothes.

Zibby: You also talk about air-drying and not only how it’s better for the clothes, but also for the environment and how we should air-dry or sometimes just hang clothes outside or even skip the wash altogether and just spray your clothes with vodka. I was like, did I read that correctly? Tell me about this trick. Am I literally going to pick the pajamas off the floor and start shooting vodka all over them? I think people will think I’d lost my mind.

Patric: They might, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Costumers do it. If you go to a Broadway show, I can promise you all of those costumes have been sprayed with vodka because they don’t wash them or launder them between every washing. It’s a great trick. It’s especially a great trick for something — your pajamas, I’d probably throw those in the washer. Your shirt that you wore to a party or that you wore to work or something, it’s not really dirty. You just had it on all day. There’s nothing dirty about it. Just spray it with a little vodka. Vodka is antibacterial. I spray my countertops with vodka and my cutting boards with vodka. I use vodka everywhere. It’s very antibacterial. You can spray it on something that just smells kind of stale or that you want to get a couple extra lives out of. I don’t know how old your kids are, but their gym bags you can spray with vodka. What’s great about vodka is when it dries, it’s completely odorless and completely colorless. It just evaporates into the ether. Everything smells better, but there’s no scent behind. It’s a great trick.

Zibby: We had a lot of antiseptic for the pandemic in little spray bottles all over. I guess I could toss that and put in some vodka. Do you drink the vodka? Are you a vodka drinker?

Patric: I am a vodka drinker. My rule is if it’s good enough to clean with, it’s not good enough to drink. It’s cheap vodka for the laundry, good vodka for the Patric.

Zibby: What’s your favorite brand of vodka to drink?

Patric: Gosh, I don’t know. My partner always buys them.

Zibby: This is totally irrelevant to our podcast.

Patric: What we probably keep on hand most of the time is Grey Goose.

Zibby: I like vanilla vodka. Maybe that doesn’t have as many good cleaning properties, so I’ll just save that.

Patric: Yeah, save that to drink. Just get yourself some inexpensive, clear vodka to spray everything else.

Zibby: Let’s talk about the lack of dry cleaning. I was thinking, how great, I bet he could sell this book in every dry cleaner and that would be such a great marketing vehicle for him. Then I was like, oh, no, he has now told everybody never to go to a dry cleaner again. This is not going to be a good move for the dry-cleaning community. So we shouldn’t dry clean anything? I really haven’t dry cleaned anything, honestly, since the pandemic started. I’m glad to hear you say that, but I also haven’t really washed most of the stuff either. It’s dry clean only. Tell me when I’m supposed to put it in a little zip bag. You said sometimes sweaters you’re supposed to fold and put in a little mesh bag. Then other times, you don’t have to. Tell me, what do we do with our sweaters?

Patric: Anything wool or silk goes in a little mesh bag. You want to stuff it in the bag so tight that it’s like a little sausage. I’m a big guy. My overcoat, which goes all the way to the floor because it’s cold in Minnesota — I think it’s seven degrees right now. My overcoat goes into a bag that’s smaller than a pillowcase. You want it really tight in the bag. The reason for that is the reason everybody doesn’t wash wool is they’re afraid that it’s going to shrink. That sweater that you have on now goes in the washer. When it comes out, it fits the dog. That’s felting. Felting happens when fibers rub against themselves. When you put it in this bag so small that it can’t move, it can’t rub against itself and it can’t felt, but the water and the soap can still go through it and still gets it clean. The one thing about washing your soup coat or the trousers, the thing that I have to get people over is you do have to iron them. Your sweaters, put them in a mesh bag. Throw them in the washer. They come out great. It’s funny because if you’ve dry cleaned them before, when you bring them out, they’re going to be softer than you ever knew they could be. It’s like a revolution. It’s amazing.

Zibby: Wow. When am I supposed to be balling up the aluminum foil? That was another trick.

Patric: That’s great. That’s in the great in the winter because of static. You make a ball of aluminum foil and toss it in your dryer. I never leave it out. I put in the dryer. I just leave it in there all the time. It absorbs static better than any dryer sheet or anything that you’ve ever used. Who doesn’t have aluminum foil around? How easy is that?

Zibby: I like to use it when I’m really desperate with the kids — my kids range in age from six to thirteen — to make little animals. You got to find lots of uses for the aluminum foil. You suggested also, tennis balls. That was for getting your towels nice and fluffy.

Patric: Yeah, towels or down. The reason for tennis balls is they’re active. Wool balls are great. You can put essential oils on it if you want to scent your clothes like something. Tennis balls are active. They’re meant to spring. When they’re in the dryer, it sounds like you’ve gone to war. Because they’re so active, they actually do beat the loft back into things that you want to be fluffy. It’s also great right now for flannel sheets.

Zibby: Just to make sure I understand, I have six towels that I need to wash. They’re mostly white-ish or white enough, white adjacent. I throw them all in the wash. I put them on warm in an express cycle, but I’m not going to buy any store-bought detergent or pods because you think those are all terrible. I’m going to get some of your soap flakes or something like that. Then I put them in the dryer with the tennis balls. Do I put it on high heat? I usually do extra long.

Patric: I always use it on warm, but my dryer senses when it’s time to turn it off. If your dryer doesn’t, for your towels, you can use warm or hot. Warm is so much better than hot. It may add three or four minutes to the dry cycle, but it’s going to be so much better for the thread. Your towels are cotton. They’re totally fine. The thread that sews them together is actually polyester. That high heat to going to cause them to break down. That’s why your towels get that kind of ripple at the end. That’s actually from the polyester thread starting to shrink.

Zibby: My towels get crunchy over time. I feel like they only last about a year.

Patric: Too much detergent. That’s what’s making them crunchy.

Zibby: Too much detergent. Wow, this is amazing.

Patric: Use less. Less is always more when it comes to whatever you use.

Zibby: What about — I’m sorry, I will ask more about your career, but I felt like this knowledge is so great. There are these pajamas from Roberta Roller Rabbit that are so soft when you touch them, but then as soon as you wash them the softness is gone. Maybe it takes two washes. What do you do about clothes like that? Is that because of the dryer, the washer, or both or what? What am I doing wrong?

Patric: So they’re soft and then they’re not?

Zibby: Yeah. They’re almost like a bamboo soft, so soft. Then as soon as you wash them —

Patric: — Oh, okay. Got it. I’m guessing that — you wash them and you put them in the dryer. You’re using good detergent.

Zibby: I’m using Tide.

Patric: It’s residue from your detergent. If you notice something that rinses completely clean — I’m not going to tell you, you have to buy my soap flakes. Go get hosiery wash or Dreft, something that’ll rinse completely clean. What’s happening is you’re getting a residue from the detergent that’s coating the fabric, and so you’re not actually feeling the fabric. You’re feeling the detergent. I’ll bet if you took them right now and if you just put a cup of vinegar in the water in the washing machine and nothing else, they would feel soft when you took it out because it would break that residue down.

Zibby: You think I should put a cup of vinegar in the washing machine?

Patric: Right, with nothing else.

Zibby: And then run it?

Patric: And then run your pajamas. It’ll break that vinegar down.

Zibby: Nothing will bad happen?

Patric: Gosh, no. Vinegar’s great.

Zibby: Just plain white vinegar?

Patric: Yep, cheap white vinegar.

Zibby: Then I should go buy some Dreft and throw out the Tide, yes?

Patric: If you’re going to buy something at the grocery store, I’d buy Dreft. I like other things. Obviously, I love my soap flakes. I love The Laundress. There’s a few of those premium detergent brands that I love. They’re really not more expensive because they’re so concentrated. You use so much less. It’s like when you go to the salon. You buy really expensive shampoo at the salon, but you found that the bottle lasts you six months. Whereas if you buy a cheaper bottle at the grocery, it’s less expensive, but it lasts a month. Really, when you average it out, it’s all kind of the same. That’s how I feel about premium laundry detergent.

Zibby: Where do you sell the soap flakes? Where do we buy them?

Patric: or you can buy them at my store at Mall of America if you want to brave the seven-degree temperatures.

Zibby: I’m going to skip the trip to Mall of America, but I can easily go on your website.

Patric: I formulated — it’s funny. They’re based a two-hundred-year-old recipe. They’re formulated. The woman who makes them for me is familiar with soap all over the world. She says I truly make the best soap flakes of the world. I’m going to trust her because it sounds good.

Zibby: Then you spoke really negatively about detergent pods.

Patric: There’s just way too much detergent in them. There’s enough detergent in one pod to do five loads of laundry. You just can’t rinse it out. If you talk to laundry repair guys, they will tell you those pods don’t a hundred percent break down. What ends up happening is they gum up the sensors in the washing machine. You paid a fortunate for this washing machine, and they’re gumming up the sensors. Whatever detergent, please don’t use pods. It’s hysterical. I’ve met people who are like, I throw in three. I’m like, your clothes must feel like cardboard.

Zibby: Usually, we don’t have pods. This last time, that was all that they had on FreshDirect or something. On the label it says if you have a big load, put in two, so I’ve been putting in two when I do all the towels which is probably why I’m ruining the towels.

Patric: No, no, no. Please don’t do that. Please don’t. Just one. Use them up. I don’t believe you should ever toss something. Use them up, but please only use one. It’s more than enough.

Zibby: Okay. Wait, back to the dry-cleaning goods. So I put them in the bag. What about air drying? I have to air dry all the — I’m getting all my tips. I’m literally going to take everything you said and change the way I do everything.

Patric: Awesome. I love that.

Zibby: Do I do everything air dry that I do that’s dry clean only?

Patric: Yeah. You just hang it up. If it’s woven and it’s not going to stretch out of shape, just put it on a hanger and let it dry. I throw them on the shower rod. If it’s a sweater or something that you’re worried about it stretching, just throw it across the drying rack. In a pinch if you don’t have a drying rack, you can literally throw it across the back of a chair. Maybe that will do it. You just don’t want to hang sweaters because you get those hanger ears. You just throw them across a drying rack. It really is fast because especially when you start using a cleaner detergent, when your clothes spin, they spin almost dry. The shirt I have on, when I took it out of the washer and I hung it up to dry, by the time the next load was done, the shirt was dry because they spin so dry. Detergent also holds water. That detergent residue also holds water. Your clothes are wetter when you use a commercial detergent. It’s pretty effective. When I tell people to air dry everything, they panic. When you really start doing it, it doesn’t take that long. It’s funny because it’s really kind of easy. Especially with your children’s clothes that you want to hang up — most of their stuff should just go in the dryer. The things you want to hang up, you’re not going to have iron them at all.

Zibby: I don’t really iron anything.

Patric: Oh, okay. It’ll really cut back on that anyway. I love to iron, believe it or not. I love it.

Zibby: My mom, when I was a little girl, she would take her beautiful napkins and we would go and she would show me, and I would do the little napkins. We would fold them and put them away. Now I’m like, I can’t even — I don’t know. I don’t iron. I just don’t. I’m sorry. I can’t.

Patric: You don’t have to.

Zibby: This is my last technical question. I feel like when I take out clothes and I air dry them, like some jeans and some T-shirts even and things, they harden in the air. When I go to fold them and wear them, they feel stiff.

Patric: It’s also detergent. If you cut back on the detergent, that won’t happen. They’ll be softer. The detergent, it’s just a coating. If you imagine that you washed your hands and you didn’t wash all the soap off, when it dried, what it would feel like, that’s exactly what’s happening to your clothes. The trick is, to get that softness, just cut back on even whatever you’re using. If you want to continue to use your detergent, fine. You know how they say you use a fourth of a cup for a full load and an eighth of a cup for a small load? Use half of that. Use about three tablespoons of your detergent. That’ll be more than enough.

Zibby: I use a lot of detergent.

Patric: If you cut back, it saves you money, which is great.

Zibby: I know, but I’m always like, what if it’s not clean?

Patric: They won’t feel crunchy. There’s still more than enough to get your clothes clean.

Zibby: So interesting, wow. This is life changing. It is. It’s something that I don’t ever talk to anybody about and yet I spend a lot of my time doing. Your book, it was just really helpful. Even my husband, the other day he was like, “Show me what to do. Do I sort them by whites and darks?” I’m like, “No, just throw everything in and throw these pods.” Now I’ve ruined all his clothes. Sorry. Patric, tell me a little bit about writing this book. What was it like for you to write it? How long did that take?

Patric: It’s funny. Parts of it just flew. Then parts of it were harder. It took about eight months beginning to end. There were things I had to research. I knew them intuitively, but I needed to know technical terms. I didn’t remember because it’s been a while since I was in college. It was really fun. It kind of made me fall in love with my childhood all over again. I realized just how incredible my life is and how wonderful these people were in my life and how ridiculously lucky I was. My granny, if you read the book, truly, the book is a love letter to her because I loved her so much, and my mother. I had this next-door neighbor who was just this fascinating woman. She owned a mangle. I thought if you were really sophisticated you had a mangle. It was a goal of mine to have one when I grew up. It just reminded me how great everything was. My mom is an incredible cook. The recipes in the back, I had to call her for all of them. They were things that I remembered. A few of them I had continued to make. It was fun. It was really fun to write the book. It was really fun to just get to remember all of these things. I think we have all memories of our childhood or whatever. You’re making memories for your children. It’s great to have these memories. It was so much fun to write the book. I’m ready to write another one just because it was so fun. I don’t know what it’s going to be. Well, I do actually know what it’s going to be about, but we’ll get through the first one first.

Zibby: Can I make a suggestion? Although, this isn’t really in your wheelhouse given that you are Mr. Textile and know everything from ancient Chinese rituals to — in the interest of helping everybody through their daily life, I think you should do another one on doing the dishes. Maybe there’s something where you can make that easier, what you should hand wash, what soaps. I don’t know if it’s a whole book, but maybe even an essay on it or something.

Patric: It’s really funny because my second book is going to be about how to clean your house.

Zibby: Is it really? Oh, my gosh, look at that.

Patric: That’s really what it is. It’s how to green up that process. I always say that my shtick is kind of eco luxury. I think you should be able to live this really luxurious life with cashmere sweaters and cloth napkins, but it still can be eco-friendly. That’s really funny.

Zibby: That’s perfect. That’s the perfect thing you should do. I’m excited about that. I really love Blueland cleaning supplies. Have you tried those?

Patric: Oh, I haven’t.

Zibby: It’s amazing because they give you just the pods and then three glass containers. One is bath and window. They used to be a sponsor of mine. I use it all the time, so I’m not saying this because they’re a sponsor. There’s one for multi-surface. I do that on the kitchen table and anywhere in the kitchen, honestly. Then there’s one for bath and window. Then they have hand soap. You just take the little pod that’s the size of a quarter and you put it in the glass container with warm water and shake it up. It lasts for a couple weeks each time. You never have to throw the plastic away. All you have to do for storage is keep more of these little pods on hand.

Patric: Wow. I’m totally going to look into it. I have not tried them. I’ll totally check that out.

Zibby: They have a washing machine detergent pod. I felt like it didn’t work very well in the laundry, so I stopped using those. I love the multi-surface. The kids love to use it too. They love to make it. It’s like a concoction. They’re all different colors. One is yellow. Then the window one is blue.

Patric: I’m going to check them out.

Zibby: Blueland Cleaning. They even have a gift set. Okay, I’ll stop. Actually, what you should do is partner with Blueland Cleaning. I’m going to find whoever it was who put me in touch with them. You should have a gift set with your book and their products.

Patric: Oh, yeah, because everybody should have the book.

Zibby: Everybody should have the book. I agree.

Patric: Then they can make Granny ’s Sweet Potato Balls on top of everything else.

Zibby: Yes. Well, okay, maybe. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Patric: Yes. My best advice — it’s really funny. I wanted to write this book. We got the first part of it down and then hit a stalemate. I was talking to a friend of mine who happens to be an author. He’s like, “I need to connect you with somebody.” My best advice for any aspiring authors is tell everybody that that’s what you want to do because you never know when somebody’s like, oh, I know somebody who can connect you with an agent or connect you with whatever it is you need. Lots of people have great ideas, but if you can’t get it to the person that can help you get it published… Then beyond that, my other piece of advice, which is something that I’ve mentioned already, is look at your path. Even if you don’t think you have great stories, you have great stories. You just have to remember them. Everybody has interesting stories. You just have to go in your mind and pull them out. If there’s something that you love as much as laundry, that can be your thing. Who knew? Who knew a book about laundry?

Zibby: It’s fantastic. To be honest with you — it was supposed to come out a lot earlier. Then you pushed back the pub date, right?

Patric: Right.

Zibby: I was so sad about that because I was like, I need this book now. It was when we were all home, all day, every day. I was like, oh, no, I didn’t want this one pushed. I’m sure you didn’t either.

Patric: I agree. I didn’t either. You know what? It’s funny, it’s going to come out at just the right time. Everything comes at just the right moment. It’s going to. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a super fun book. Laundry’s kind of picked up in the world. More people are talking about laundry. It really probably is a better time. Drew Barrymore loves laundry.

Zibby: There you go.

Patric: She talks about it all the time. It’s just kind of become a thing. It’s fun. I was disappointed. I was very disappointed that it was pushed back. When it comes out, it will be about just a little over three years from conception, which feels like a long time. When I’ve talked to other people, they’re like, “Yeah, that’s a little longer than most books,” but it’s coming out at just the right time, just in time for spring cleaning when you change over your closet.

Zibby: Yes. Everything happens as it should be. Thank you so much. Thank you for all of the advice in your book and letting me pick your brain about some of my clothing issues here. I can’t wait for the house cleaning book. Laundry is really the bane of my existence, so I’m so glad to get some good tips which will make my family feel better, which is great.

Patric: Can I give you two final tips?

Zibby: Yes, yes, yes.

Patric: Number one, you should hang a disco ball in your laundry room because it’s always more fun if there’s a disco ball.

Zibby: We actually have a disco ball. We have a disco ball in our playroom, but I can move it.

Patric: Awesome. You can get a second. You can always have more disco balls. Disco balls are great. I love them. The second one, though, is something that I tell everybody about laundry. When I was a kid long before you were born, if you watched sitcoms or whatever, people, primarily women, would complain about having to make dinner. It was this chore, like, oh, I have to make dinner. It’s this huge chore. Now we have how many different celebrity chefs? We have networks devoted to cooking. Cookbooks are a huge category, as you would know. It’s the exact same process. Julia Child put the chicken in the oven the exact same way Ina Garten puts the chicken in the oven. The only difference is somebody decided that cooking wasn’t a chore, that it was a hobby. If you decide that laundry’s a hobby and it’s not a chore, then all of a sudden, it’s fun.

Zibby: I love that. That’s so great. And even something you can get better at. It’s not just something you’re doing.

Patric: When you start tackling the stains, you get this real sense of satisfaction. When the ketchup comes out of the school uniform or whatever, you really get this sense of satisfaction about it.

Zibby: Maybe we have the laundry TV channel coming then. Maybe that’s the next thing.

Patric: You never know.

Zibby: You never know. Thank you so much. Thanks for all your time today.

Patric: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. Thanks for loving the book. I love it. I’m just glad other people do too.

Zibby: I got so much out of it, super, super useful. Amazing.

Patric: I’m so glad. Make that cake. It is delicious.

Zibby: Okay. I’ll go get some sour cream when I get my Dreft. Bye.

Patric: Exactly. Bye.


Laundry Love: Finding Joy In A Common Chore by Patric Richardson

Purchase your copy on Amazon or Bookshop

You can also listen to this episode on:

Apple Podcasts