Not long ago I instructed you guys to wear T-shirts. “There are two strong economic reasons for this,” I wrote. “First, you will save considerably on dry-cleaning.”

Dorothy Mallonee: “Tell me you DON’T dry clean your dress shirts! You’re absolutely right, dry cleaning is not good for them. In fact, it’s not good for any fabric and it’s certainly not good for the environment. Cotton dress shirts should be washed. The same is true for silk shirts and virtually all sweaters. Most items that are labeled DRY CLEAN ONLY are so labeled primarily to protect the manufacturer.

“I hand wash lots of stuff. Most people seem to find hand washing tedious, but, frankly, I find it no big bother. It takes me less time than it’d take me to go to the cleaners. You just soak, say, your sweater, in the bathroom sink with 2 cents worth of Woolite for 3 minutes, squeeze the water out, roll it in a towel and step on the rolled-up bundle a couple times (to extract more water) then lay it flat to dry. I even have a little rack covered with a plastic mesh I can lay stuff like this on to make it dry faster.

“My stuff lasts longer, smells better, gets cleaner (do you know how infrequently most dry cleaners change their solvent? don’t ask!), and is easier on the environment. And, every time I do it I think how proud you’d be of me for being so thrifty!”

Just before you dismiss Dorothy as a bag lady who somehow gained access to the Internet, I should tell you that back when I was shorting Amazon and warning you not to do it because it’s really, really risky, Dorothy went my warning one better — and bought it. Amazon proceeded to triple or quintuple or something and she made (I’m guessing) seven billion dollars. So you see? You don’t have to be a bag lady to live light on the land. From now on, I’m not sending my shirts to the dry-cleaner; I’m sending them to Dorothy.


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