For The Big Spring Spruce-Up, we’re throwing our windows wide open and letting in all that fresh air. Follow along for handy tips and game-changing tricks—cleaning and organizing to-dos, home decorating projects, and more.
One of the first things I was told in my early days at Food52 was that our company's co-founder and CEO, Amanda Hesser, loves to do laundry. Another team member mentioned it offhandedly when I inquired about a bowl filled with clothespins in a shared lounge space: something like, "Oh, Amanda loves to do laundry. Loves it."
While it turned out to be mostly conjectural—I've never actually seen Amanda add to or take pins from that bowl—I never forgot this detail.
And it checks out. When Amanda agreed to share her thoughts about all things spin cycle for our Big Spring Spruce-Up campaign, I asked why, exactly, she loves doing laundry so much. She has no fewer than nine reasons:
- Laundry has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
- And that end involves a tidy pile of clothes that you get to wear again!
- It’s one of the few household tasks that you can pick up at different stages and not have it rule your day.
- Laundry is predictable (when done properly).
- Doing laundry doesn’t make you sweat.
- You can fold laundry and have a meaningful conversation.
- Laundry allows you to bring order and neatness to the messiness of your life.
- Laundry smells good.
- Laundry involves warm, fluffy fabrics. ("What’s not to love?")
It's no wonder, then, that laundry is a Hesser family activity, taking place several times each week smack in the middle of their home.
"We don’t have a laundry room—it’s just a closet with a stackable washer and dryer in one corner of our open kitchen and dining area. I keep the laundry detergent and stain spray in our liquor cabinet, which is right next to the laundry closet. I consider this a pretty luxe situation for New York City," says Amanda.
Here, she shares her most clever washing tips and sworn-by products—bowl of clothespins not included:
Just like when she's cooking, Amanda's not afraid to tinker with recommended quantities for the best laundry results.
"I use one-third the amount of soap indicated on the detergent cap," she says. "Neither our waterways nor your clothes need that much soap."
Amanda's top trick for defeating stubborn stains? Don't give up.
"Lightly wet the stain, rub a bar of soap, stain stick, or spray into the stain, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. If it’s a heavy stain like blood or dirt, run this soaped spot under cold water and scrub it between your hands to try to loosen as much of the stain as possible before laundering. When it goes into the washer, use cold water and put it on the full cycle so there’s lots of swishing and rinsing. You may need to run it a few times," she says. "Don’t assume that because a stain didn’t come out the first time, it will never come out. Rub soap into it again and repeat the rinsing, scrubbing, and washing process."
One of Amanda's biggest laundry breakthroughs to date has been cracking the code of clean dress shirts at home.
"Years ago, I found myself frustrated by how expensive dry cleaning is (don’t get me started on the sexism of dry cleaning!)," she says. "In order to do this without having to iron, I wash them in cold water, remove them from the washer as soon as the cycle is done, hang on a plastic hanger, and then stretch each sleeve and quarter of the shirt to straighten it. If there are ruffles, yes, I pull on each area of the ruffles, too, so they dry loose and airy. Drying shirts this way won’t get them as smooth as a pressed shirt; your shirts will look put together but a little looser, which is more my style anyway. But it’s free, you don’t have to wait a day or two for it, and you’ll appreciate the feeling that you’re taking good care of your clothing!"
"Sheets always fold better if you remove them from the dryer just faintly damp," reveals Amanda. "Learned this trick from my mom, whose linen closet looked like a store display."
While the dryer's a solid bet for quick, clean laundry in bulk (think: bedding, towels, those 15 sweatshirts that always seem to be in your hamper...), Amanda's got a different approach for her most treasured pieces of clothing.
"Air is your best friend when it comes to laundry. I hang dry so many pieces of clothing: jeans, tights, bras, shirts, and any nicer t-shirts," she says. "I started doing this when I was younger and wanted any good clothing I bought to hold up longer. It works. I have jeans and t-shirts that are 10 years old, and they still look great."
"When I have a big pile of clothes to fold, the first thing I do is sort it," she says. "I make a pile of socks, a pile of underwear, a pile of shirts, etc. It’s much easier to clear an area and quickly fold a bunch of shirts, than to do a shirt then a sock then pants. Also, if you have helpers—aka kids—they love sorting, and socks are easy to pair and fold, so my kids are always assigned to sorting and socks!"