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An Eco Way to Wash Delicates

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Tired of that thong song when your sexiest undies collapse from too many wash machine beatings?


One way to lessen the damage is my mom’s method of washing her lingerie in a mesh bag on the delicate cycle of the wash machine, keeping the fabrics separated from towels and other heavier cottons. Bags also help protect fragile fabrics from too much machine agitation. Sadly, Mom still uses Tide detergent on everything. I wheeze from the chemical odor and wince at the notion of wearing tender garments marinated in Tide!


Mesh bags with green detergents are a good way to clean sturdier cotton undies and camisoles  in the machine, and for those who like using bags, Good Housekeeping has some great tips.


But when it comes to silks, I prefer to hand wash and hang undergarments, hose, bathing suits, and work-out gear, finding it goes further to sustain these daily necessities while also rushing them through the wash and wear cycle faster.


Here are some safe and gentle products for soaking our most fragile garments:


1. Baby Shampoo
Even before having babies, I began soaking my delicates in the sink with a thimble-full of baby shampoo. My late Aunt Lorraine, one of the best knitters in the Midwest, taught me this trick for hand washing knitwear. For my hose, good thongs,and bras, I use organic products, like California Baby , $20, finding a very small amount goes a long way in making suds. I add about a tablespoon to a sink full of water (lukewarm for anything that doesn’t need stain removal and warmer for garments that are spotted). I rinse in clean water and drape the wet garments over a towel to air dry. Experts say not to hang hose or they stretch out, so I usually fold mine over the bathtub rim on a dry towel.


Another reason I love gentle baby shampoo is that I’m highly allergic to most scented shampoos and lingerie washes, and I have no reaction to this gentle alternative. When out of the shampoo, I have also used gentle baby soaps, simply lathering the bar a bit with my hands under the tap to make suds for soaking.


2. Forever New Fabric Care Wash
A product that has been on the market for twenty-five, Forever New , $15–$17, has several organic formulas that address various garments from lights and darks to swimwear, work-out wear and items in need of stain removal. It works great for hand-washing bras. I have a friend who is quite well endowed and she washes a dozen bras at a time and then strings them to dry inside her shower. The site is something to behold. It’s important to remember to reshape the cups when hanging to dry. The washing is easy: you just fill the sink with lukewarm water, add the liquid and swish with your hand to mix the soap. Rinse twice and dry. Your bras will have a longer life if you avoid the tumbling of the machine.


3. Hanky Panky
The maker of organic thongs and undies, Hanky Panky has introduced a biodegradable lingerie wash powder that is hypoallergenic, fragrance free and made in the USA. It’s sold at site like A Brief Affair for $8.50 for an 8 oz. jar. Be sure to follow the directions for mixing so you don’t make the wash too potent.



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