By Toni Brannagan
One of the worst parts about living in New York City is the laundry situation – unless you’re one of those people that has a washer/dryer in your apartment, and in that case, I hate you. Just kidding. But not really...
Seriously, if you also live in an urban area (or just struggling with #adulting, no judgement here), you probably also know the struggle of finding spare time to do laundry, and if you’re anything like me, you’re not focusing on doing it “right.” In the spirit of transparency, I’ll admit that I started reading care instructions on my clothes, like, maybe last year.
Unfortunately, those habits definitely aren’t the best for the longevity of your clothes – or the planet. If you’re already making an effort to live a bit more sustainably, why not make overhauling laundry day the next step in your journey?
To help us out, we’ve enlisted the help of Corinna and Theresa Williams, sisters and co-founders of Celsious, an eco-friendly laundromat and café (yup, they’ve got WiFi!!) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Let them walk you through how to wash your THINX in this cute li’l video we put together, then read on to learn everything you need to know about taking the best possible care of your wardrobe (while, of course, giving Mother Nature the love she deserves as well).
Tell us about your mission in founding Celsious.
Corinna: I moved to New York City from Germany about 5 years ago. Having lived in Europe all my life, I was used to always having a washing machine in my apartment. There, even the most basic washers feature at least five different washing programs for different types of garments – from delicates to wool to heavy soiled.
Living in the city was really the first time I had to frequent a laundromat. And it was not a pleasant experience. The place on the corner of my Upper East Side apartment was grimy, there were two wobbly chairs for seating, and ghastly lighting. What’s more, my white linens and towels accumulated a nasty grayish-brown tint.
I went looking for better options, until I had my first “ah-ha” moment: there were none! Second “ah-ha” moment: My French friend explained to me how the only way to possibly get her whites completely white was to fly them back to Europe and give them a good wash there.
A task as simple as getting and keeping a white sheet bright should not require intercontinental airfare. That’s how the idea of Celsious was born.
Theresa: Since environmentally conscious living plays such a big part in our lives, it was never a question that sustainable washing and business practices would also become one of the most important missions of Celsious. We invested in the most energy-efficient professional laundry equipment on the market and offer non-toxic alternatives to incredibly harmful products like fabric softener and dryer sheets.
For our café, we source organic products from other local small businesses and have nearly reached our goal of running a zero-waste operation.
How should people be washing their clothes to maximize their wearability?
Corinna: A good rule of thumb to increase wearability and prolong the life cycle of your garments is to go low on the heat!
I try to wash almost anything that is not sheets or towels on cold, which preserves synthetic fibers, especially elastic ones. Same goes for the dryer. If you have the ability to hang and/or flat dry (which is key for delicate items such as wool and cashmere), it’s a good way to add some wears to your garment’s life.
Do you have any general tips for washing your clothes sustainably?
Theresa: Make sure to follow care instructions on your garments! That said, many items, such as wool and cashmere sweaters can be washed with gentle cycles developed specifically for more delicate garments – even though their labels might say “Dry Clean Only".
For stained items, we cannot stress the importance of pre-treatment enough. As powerful as our equipment is, some stains are stronger. If you treat them with our Soap Stick by Meliora or soak them overnight in a Non-Chlorine Bleach Complex by Sonett, the chances of getting your piece of clothing completely spotless (without having to resort to using chemicals that may put your hormonal, reproductive, respiratory health at risk whilst polluting our waterways!) are significantly higher.
Try to steer clear of conventional detergents, which can contain an unknown number of toxins – there is no federal legislation requiring detergent manufacturers to list ingredients on packaging.
What are your tried-and-true methods for removing tough stains, like period leaks, from your clothes?
Corinna: Most importantly, tend to the stain right after wear. You don’t want it to set, which will make it even harder to get out.
For period leaks, we like to do a combination of concentrated spot treatment with either our stain spray or liquid gall soap by Sonett. Spray or apply to the stain, let it sit for a minute, and then work it with a stain brush or repurposed toothbrush. Then, soak in a bath of warm water with a scoop of oxygen brightener, ideally overnight. Come morning, the stain should have visibly lightened, if not vanished. The mechanical action in the washing machine will take care of the rest.
Have you switched to any natural methods to launder your clothes? Got a no-fail stain remover trick passed on to you through generations? Share your secrets with us in the comments!