Saturday, September 22, 2018

Reduce, Reuse, Rewear

I know you've done it: you start the day in shorts and short sleeves, but as the day goes on you get chilly, so change into warmer stuff and toss the first outfit onto the chair in your bedroom to wear tomorrow. Or you have to go to a meeting, so take off your tee shirt and jeans toss them in the same place. Or you change into a fresh shirt and slacks to meet some friends for dinner, and figure you'll just wear the same clothes for the following night's outing, so add them to the stack. That pile? It has a name: it's called a "chairobe." 

According to Urban Dictionary, the term has multiple meanings. Yes, it includes all the lightly worn cast-offs as described by the situations above. But it also encompasses things you've worn for the day but are still relatively unstained and unmussed, say a sweater or the top layer of a multi-layer outfit. And then there's those various items you cycle through while looking to find the right outfit for your upcoming do, but forgo rehanging in the closet. Regardless of the source, research says that 60% of millennials have just such a pile in their apartments. Anecdotally, I would say you can broaden the demographic of practitioners to Baby Boomers, Gen Xer's, Next Gen's and Whatever-Other-Gen'er's. 

Regardless of your cohort, in the name of water conservation, labor conservation and plain old wear and tear, you can make a pretty good case for not laundering some of these aforementioned items after every use. Of course, there are some articles that should be dropped in the basket regardless of how short of time they are on your body, including exercise gear, underwear and socks. As to the rest, the web site Popsugar has a guide to "How Many Wears Before You Need to Wash." Assuming you haven't spilled anything on them, it marks tops, dresses and leggings at 1 to 2 times, pants, skirts, and shorts at 3 to 4, and jeans, jackets and blazers at 5 to 6. But even if that shirt is in pretty good shape, that doesn't mean that it doesn't need a little freshening up. And that's where Day2 steps in. 

Available at this point only in the UK, Day2 is an aerosol spray from Unilever that does three things: gets rid of odors, removes creases, and softens fabric. It's sort of a combination wrinkle-release spray crossed with Febreze, but made specifically for clothes. It comes in three strengths (based on the fabrics, not how bad your clothes smell) including Original, Denim and Delicate. The instructions say for you to you spray a garment lightly on both sides, smooth out the wrinkles with your hands, hang it up and leave it for 15 minutes, and your duds are ready for another go. Each bottle has enough stuff for about 25 uses, which reportedly saves 16 gallons of water. 

Like many modern conveniences that make life easier or are good for the environment, it's doesn't necessarily make economic sense. While it saves water it doesn't save money: at about $10 a bottle, you could buy an equivalent amount of regular detergent to do 40 or 50 loads. But it's not completely apples to apples: less washing means your clothes should also last longer and not fade as quickly, prolonging their life. So you can make a case that it might be a "better living through chemistry" moment. 

For those really adverse to doing the wash, you might want to consider a triple team on your clothes. If all you have are mussed up duds that need a smoothing, there's Downy Wrinkle Remover. If you drip some coffee or sauce on your pants, a Tide To Go stain pen might erase the damage. And Day2 promises to get you through another 24 to 48 hours without making a trip to machine. After that? Well, as with almost everything else, there's an app for that. Flycleaners, Cleanly and Rise are all sort of Uber-for-Laundry services where you can plug the particulars into your phone, and someone will come to pick up your dirties, do your cleaning and deliver those jeans back to you. iLaundry, if you will. 

Or you could just go through life naked. Your choice.


Marc Wollin of Bedford generally screws up the laundry without specific instructions from his wife. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.