Website of the week
For the most part, I buy nice clothes, and with nice clothes comes a certain level of care required; I am thus pretty OCD about washing my wardrobe as gently as possible. My first New York apartment had the luxury of a washer-dryer in the kitchen (yes, it was in Manhattan), and my last apartment had a well-appointed laundry room in the basement that was open 24/7 and, thankfully, was rarely crowded. However, my current apartment (which, god willing, I won't be living in for too much longer) leaves much to be desired when it comes to the laundry room--I almost always have to wait for a machine (there are six washers for roughly 100 apartments), and the room itself closes at 9:30 p.m. So, out of frustration, I began outsourcing my laundry, which, while very convenient, is unfortunately on the pricey side. I started to grow a little irritated with the wash-and-fold, however, when several pairs of my La Perla underwear returned with rather large holes. But the nail in the coffin came when I discovered that what I thought was winter-related eczema was actually an allergy to the industrial-strength laundry detergent being used on my undergarments. Yeah. So, I am back to doing my own laundry, which is dull and frustrating, but at least I've discovered a few accouterments to make the process a little less irritating (literally and figuratively). Started by two former fashion-industry insiders, the Laundress is a line of laundry supplies that are both luxe and environmentally friendly. The site itself is a wealth of information for your inner Heloise; there are tips, recipes for extra-tough stains, more quick tips, and if you can't find what you're looking for, you can Ask the Laundress for help.

Product-wise, they have an all-purpose signature detergent, yes, but they also have special formulas for whites, darks, delicates, swimwear, wool & cashmere (imagine machine-washing your sweaters!), denim, and more. All formulas are available in your choice of scent, too--classic, cedar, baby, and lady--this page explains what they are. For the Febreeze-averse, there's Fabric Fresh; Crease Release sounds like a great product to take along while traveling. But I'm definitely going to order the Starter Kit to sample which of the six best-selling formulas I'd like to buy in full size. Which leads me to the inevitable: This ain't Tide--a 32-ounce Signature Detergent is $19.50; the specialty detergents are nearly twice as expensive. But the washes are all sulfate-free, biodegradable, free of artificial colors, and more concentrated than the average grocery-store brand, so you actually use a lot less detergent (especially if you use a high-efficiency machine). Plus, there's something to be said for making a mundane task like doing laundry seem, well, less mundane. And having spent the last six months scratching myself in odd places such as the back of my ribcage, I can honestly say that quality laundry detergent might very well be worth the investment--for the sake of my skin and my clothes.

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