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I’ve come a long way since mom used to separate my lights and darks and dress me in matching separates most likely made of rayon or Lycra. In fact, I’m been pretty damn good at taking care of my personal effects, clothes being the highest maintenance probably.
I mean, you’ve got to look at the tag, and then interpret those weird hieroglyphic-looking symbols about how to wash a garment. What does triangle mean? Why is X on the triangle?? Now the triangle looks like an ocean wave is running through it -- where is the consistency, people who make clothing labels!
I learned from the best as far as keeping it flossy goes (thanks Mom), so imagine my dismay upon laundering a vintage dress I won on eBay that was described as “probably polyester or acrylic,” only to discover it was at least 2 sizes smaller after drying. Bad on my part for absentmindedly throwing it in the dryer after a cold wash thinking, “This has probably been washed and dried tons of times; it is from the past, after all…”
Well guess what, eBay username I can’t remember -- this shit was most definitely not all synthetic. There had to be some wool in there somewhere, because it shrank so much that when I pulled it out of the dryer heap to fold it, the lady at the Laundromat folding next to me was like “That’s an adorable dress -- your daughter must be very stylish” which, OK thanks.
I asked my best friend, The Internet, what I should do. She is always so helpful! And also the first one to tell me I have some sort of cancer if I search any symptoms I have when I’m feeling under the weather. Get a grip, The Internet -- it was just a baby flu (not to be confused with adolescent or mature flu).
So I tried this method that every housewife who has uttered the words, “My lord, they just grow like weeds, don’t they!” swears by. All you need is either baby shampoo or hair conditioner. Some say baby shampoo works better, but others say that there’s no difference. The idea is that both formulas loosen the fibers of a garment and also make it soft and silky and manageable.
So yeah. You pretty much just chuck the shrunken garment, whatever it may be, into a bucket or your bathroom sink if you don’t own a bucket (it’s 2013, do people still have buckets?), fill with lukewarm water and enough baby shamps or hair conditioner to turn it into a luxurious bubble bath. Now, massage! Yeah, treat that babified item of clothing to some first class bubbles!
OK. Bathtime is over. Unstop your sink/empty your bucket and gently wring your garment of most of the water. If you have a towel around -- and duh, of course you probably own at least one towel -- lay it out on a table and put the wet garment on top. Now roll! And then squeeze it like a tube of Go-Gurt. This is the best way to squeeze water out of clothes without wringing it out of shape. Because you’re about to do that next!
Once you unroll your wet burrito, start to stretch the garment into what you remember to be it’s original shape. If you’re a real masochist you can don the damp thing on your body and shape it that way via air-dry. And walk around your house feeling all icky with only the hopes and dreams of sartorial salvation to keep you squelching forth.
After my dress was fully dry and fragrant with the lovely scent of my Moroccan Oil conditioner (I got it in bulk from a friend who works for the company, so this is kind of as close as I get to poppin’ bottles, you know?) I tried to zip it up and managed to get it all the way up to my neck without feeling like I was going to dislocate my shoulder. Success!
It’s still a hair tighter than before I washed it but I’m so glad I can actually wear it again because I only got one wear out of that thing before it got shrink-rayed. I know, I know, it’s kind of gross to buy vintage clothes and just wear it without washing first because WHO KNOWS WHERE IT’S BEEN but I have no excuse, only impatience. And this adorable children’s’ dress apparently.