a peek inside the fishbowl

04 Mar, 2019

One dress, thirty days (day 10 report!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Challenge me, challenge you

This post is about the “One dress, thirty days” challenge. You can readthe kickoff post right here.

So I’ve been on the receiving end of some positive feedback about the challenge so far, which is nice. Some people have asked me if I’m washing the dress during the 30 days. Er, yes! I am definitely washing the dress. As per the label it needs to be hand washed and laid flat to dry. I’ve washed it twice this way (albeit on the delicate cycle in our front loader). Once I laid it out to dry overnight on the bed in the eldest daughter’s former bedroom and the second time (just last night) I lay it flat on a drying rack in the basement. I will admit that it was a teeeeny bit damp when I put it on this morning, but no biggie. Next time I’ll definitely lay it out to dry in the bedroom.

1dress30days, day 10

I feel compelled to point out that I wear PJs for sleeping and gym gear for sweating in, whether I’m at the gym or on the treadmill here at home. When I’m dressed, I’m wearing The Dress. Someone also asked me if I’m wearing a layer underneath the dress, and yes, I wear lightweight undershirts and camisoles every day. It goes a long way to keeping the dress clean because it’s not directly on my skin. I’m also reaching for that apron when I’m prepping dinner a little more frequently.

The “are you washing the dress” question makes me wonder if the idea of cleanliness (or lack thereof) is people’s number one issue when they hear about this challenge. Is it the first thing that springs to mind when I tell people that I’m wearing the same dress for 30 days?

The question of whether our clothes are dirty or clean is an interesting one. On one hand, detergent manufacturers would have us washing our clothes every day with additives for every cycle – in addition to regular detergent – such as laundry scent boosters (yes, it’s a thing), bleach, spray n’ wash, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets. It’s in their best interest to instill a fear of dirt, germs, and bad smells. That’s what gets us to buy more products, right? Ahd someone who is germophobic probably washes their clothes more than other people.

In past years, these same manufacturers used shame as a key motivator. Readers of an, ahem, certain age might remember the “ring around the collar” commercials.

I have a feeling that if we did a nationwide survey we’d learn that most people are washing their clothes too frequently. Over washing uses extra water, flushes detergent down the drain (not to mention microfibres along with it) and shortens the lifespan of our clothing.

My current approach to laundering my clothes is this:

  • I wash all of my clothing on the delicate cycle and hang most of it to dry on the laundry line in our basement. Even socks! This has made a huge difference, especially in the bra and underwear department. All of my clothing lasts a lot longer now that I’m not throwing everything in the drier. (I can’t tell you how many bras I’ve ruined this way.)
  • Clothing items such as sweaters and hoodies are washed on an as-needed basis. In other words, if they’re stained, dingy, or less than fresh. Same goes for jeans. I wear them a lot between washings (and I only have two pairs!).

This article published in the Guardian got me thinking about how often we wash things around the house. It’s interesting to note that different experts have wildly different ideas about cleanliness depending on their angle e.g. whether they approached the question as an expert cleaner or environmentalist. Some people would have us wash our jeans every day because of germs, others say the time to wash is when the item fails the sniff test.

There is no wrong answer (is there?), but I do think it’s important to be just as mindful of our laundry as we are about our recycling or turning off the lights when we’re not using them. What do you think?


4 Responses to "One dress, thirty days (day 10 report!)"

1 | SARAH McCormack

March 4th, 2019 at 6:23 pm

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Yes, this was a question I had but felt a bit rude asking. I, too, try to wear clothes as much as possible without washing. I find that s lot easier in winter. Summer tops in hot sweaty weather need washing after just one wear for me. I have read opinions that jeans should NEVER be washed! Thought provoking. My younger son drives me nuts. He will wear n outfit for 3 hrs and throw it in the hamper. I just recently talked to him about wearing multiple times. Also, how often do people wash bedding and towels? I had a friend who washed her bath towel after each use! Crazy! Anyway…love this idea of yours as it makes me think.

2 | Misty

March 5th, 2019 at 2:13 pm

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My kids also do the annoying “throw everything into the hamper” trick. That said, I do feel a bit germaphobic about their clothes that come back from school, as there is so much yuckiness going around. My husband also works in the trades, so his stuff is DIRTY. But I go weeks without washing my jeans!! I’m also trying to do better at buying fabrics like cotton, which seem to have a lot less wear and tear than these newer fabrics that pill after one wash.

I try to wash sheets and towels once every 1-2 weeks.

3 | andrea tomkins

March 7th, 2019 at 2:47 pm

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Sarah: washing it is a must, but as you said, it would be a different story in the summer! In terms of linens, we have one set of bath towels and I wash them every week. (I swap out hand and face towels more often.) I try to do the same for our bed linens but it doesn’t always work out as planned!

Misty: Maybe kids toss stuff in the hamper because they’re too lazy to hang them up again? :) I hear ya on the germs and it’s something I’ve been thinking about too.

4 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive One dress, thirty days (day 13 update) - a peek inside the fishbowl

March 7th, 2019 at 4:37 pm

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[…] brought up an interesting point in her comment on my previous post about the 1Dress challenge: germs. Now, if I worked in a doctor’s office, hospital, school, or other setting in which […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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