One of the most-asked questions I field via Instagram is how I dress my children so nicely in the face of all of the laundering, stain removal, and ironing it must entail


The truth is that my children also wear a lot of easy-to-care-for cotton separates like peter pan collar dresses from Busy Bees and Luigi for Emory and jeans with long-sleeved polos and printed turtlenecks for Hill, but I do spend a lot of time tending to their dressier clothes. Here’s what works well for us:

For stains, I swear by Palmolive dish soap diluted by hot water, applied directly to the area, and then immediately laundered with The Laundress Baby detergent, and this stiff brush is helpful in the process. For lighter staining/marking/spillage issues, Dreft spray works well.

In general, I really like The Laundress baby detergent. It smells phenomenal and is also very gentle on even the most delicate of clothes. It is not quite as effective as classic Tide, but I find Tide can dullen clothing over time. I spent a lot of time testing different detergent brands and for a time, I thought I liked Mrs. Meyers, but it simply does not clean clothing as well as Tide does, and a few of the other fancier brands are too heavily perfumed for Mr. Magpie’s taste. (People love Glamorous Wash, but it is very strongly scented — Mr. Magpie had me give it away, even when I diluted it with Tide!) In short, I use The Laundress for most things but if there is a big mess or I’m doing a big load of towels dirtied from art projects, I use Tide. I love these dryer sheets (they smell excellent — like roses!) although I just ordered a pack of wool dryer balls because people rave about them and they help with drying items (especially sheets and towels) evenly. You can add a scented dryer ball to the mix if you miss the scent that dryer sheets afford.

If I’m washing something with delicate ties or details, I put it in a mesh bag to keep it separate from other items. If super delicate (or washing my undergarments), I use the delicates wash from The Laundress or Tocca in a Rubbermaid basin.

For sweaters and woolen pieces, I like The Laundress’ Wool and Cashmere shampoo. I will soak pieces in hot water laced with the shampoo and a Rubbermaid basin I have for the purpose and then lay the sweaters on towels to dry. They lose their shape if hung…

For ironing, I’ve mentioned this no less than 235898 times, but I love my Rowenta iron. If you feel like you aren’t good at ironing, try this and realize that half the battle is having the right implement. It heats up near-instantly and gets VERY hot. It also has a good heft to it that enables you to get super crisp edges. I bought a Minky ironing board a few years ago based on stellar reviews and, irritatingly, it wobbles. It wobbles! Basically the one thing you don’t want in an ironing board, and now I’m wondering why I spent $65 on a board that doesn’t work when I could have spent $20 on one that has the same problem. Gr. Is it weird that I want to upgrade to a Brabantia? They are considered la creme de la creme of ironing boards (ha, yes – there is such a thing) and are extra wide, which I would LOVE. (Would shave precious time when ironing sheets!) I can’t justify it at the moment but maybe one day…

I add Laundress ironing water to the water reserve on my Rowenta and it imparts just the slightest scent and I love it. It’s the little things, people. I also tried their starch but didn’t love it. Classic, $2/canister Niagara is where it’s at. I like a super crisp line.

Random other laundry items I love:

+These laundry baskets are just the best. They stack, the handles make for surprisingly easier lifting than you anticipate, and they do not break/warp.

+These battery-operated fabric de-fuzzers are a must. They breathe new life into pilling sweaters.

+I’m now realizing I’m sort of a walking ad for Laundress, but I love their products — they smell great, work great, and are beautifully designed (and marketed). The only item of theirs I haven’t loved is their starch alternative. At any rate, I love their crease release, which I use on my duvet and pillows between launderings to keep things looking spiffy (and smelling fantastic). Don’t get me wrong: it will not substitute for a proper ironing, but it helps keep things a little smoother!

+Rowenta steamer. I upgraded to this a few years ago and it is excellent. I always found that the other ones I tried would squirt water unevenly over the fabric. Never run into that issue with this one, which is higher-powered and more efficient.

And random other laundry items worth a look:

+This cart for stowing laundry essentials. We don’t have a dedicated laundry room, so I keep all items corralled in one of these inexpensive white Container Store bins I keep raving about.

+Would love this laundry compartment hamper for easy sorting into whites, darks, etc.

+A clothing pin organizer!

+Some of you have asked for non-woven laundry baskets, and this one is very chic if you can handle looking at your laundry, and this is the one we have in micro’s bedroom. I like it because you can pull the liner out and bring the load directly to the laundry!

+Totally frivolous, but if you have a proper laundry room, would be amazing to keep detergents and dryer balls in these heritage jars with little scoops.

+These vintage-styled wheeled laundry baskets would make laundry days tres chic.

+For the serious laundry operation, this hanging dryer rack is apparently trademarked and “a part of British households for over 100 years” (?), but I love this wall-mounted style in crisp white.

+I have been eyeing this Le Labo x The Laundress detergent after one of you said you use it only for washing sheets. Love that idea — gives your bed a little extra love but ensures you don’t go through a bottle in zero minutes flat.

+A clever laundry bin for a little one’s room.

Is this enough on the subject of clothing care?! Ha!

P.S. More of my favorite home products and my favorite organization products in case the New Year is bringing you Marie Kondo vibes.

P.P.S. One secret to keeping the nursery tidy, and some cute nursery finds.

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