Is handwashing worth it?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by tgfny, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. tgfny

    tgfny Senior member

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    I have always had the $1.50 folded, no starch, with the occasional Hallak treats. Over the life of a shirt does the $4 handwash extend the life of the shirt enough to justify the cost difference? $3-350 T and A customs mostly.
     


  2. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Handwashing definitely extends the life of clothing. But it would take a complex equation beyond my keen to determine if you're really saving money at $4 a pop. This is why I handwash my own clothes -- no question on the savings.
     


  3. tgfny

    tgfny Senior member

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    I barely have enough free time to wash my hair. Washing my clothes is way beyond me.
     


  4. FIHTies

    FIHTies Senior member

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    Of course if it takes you 10 minutes to wash an iron each shirt, and you make more than 24 dollars an hour (for handwashing) or 9 dollars an hour (machine washing) then there is a very good question about the savings.
     


  5. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    At more than $24 an hour, I wouldn't worry about paying for hand washing, in terms of the cash outlay. But to me, nice clothes are more than a monetary investment. I want to make pieces I like last as long as possible.
     


  6. Mike C.

    Mike C. Senior member

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    It's a tough question. I literally cringe everytime I hand my Purple Label shirts over to the dry cleaners. One thing that I've done to extend the life of my shirts, is to get no starch.

    To do the math, you'd need to know the life of a shirt over the number of each type of cleaning. Do shirts break down after 20, $1.50 washes? Will they last through 50 hand washings? The area between these two lines is what you'd have to look at. If it's greater than the cost of the shirt, go with hand wash, if it's less, machine wash.
     


  7. Mike C.

    Mike C. Senior member

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    Or you can look at it this way. Let's assume that handwashing doubles the life of the shirt. Let's also assume the max number of washes is 25 for machine and 50 for hand washing. 25*2=50; double the life.

    At $325 per shirt, using only $1.50 wash the max you can invest in the shirt becomes $362.50 = 325+1.5*25

    Using hand washing the max invested in a shirt becomes $525 = 325+4*50

    So the difference is $162.50

    If you just bought two identical shirts and machine washed, it would come out to $725... another way of doubling the life of the shirt.

    In this case, you actually save money by paying more for hand washing ($200).

    However we don't know the ratio of hand washing/machine wash. Though we can conclude that if it more than doubles the life, hand washing will certainly save you money on a $325 shirt.

    At $162.50, it wouldn't make a difference which way it was washed. For shirts less than $162.50, it would be cheaper to machine wash, and more than that, you'd save by hand washing.
     


  8. MilanoStyle

    MilanoStyle Senior member

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    How often do you guys wash shirts? Everytime after you wear a dress shirt? Or do you wait until collar stain becomes visible?
     


  9. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Depends on the weather, really. If I get sweaty, it goes in the wash. Dress shirts get washed each day. But if the weather is cool enough, I'll let a casual shirt go until it begins to show a bit of grime or gets excessively wrinkled.
     


  10. Pink22m

    Pink22m Senior member

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    I usually wash each shirt after wearing it, only because of dirt that tends to build up on the cuff area (this problem is exacerbated with french cuffs). I don't notice this as much with my barrel cuff button down casual shirts, so those are typically worn a few times before they are washed. Additionally, with my button down shirts, because they are worn open collar, they collar obviously isn't in nearly as close of contact with my neck as my french cuff dress shirts, which are usually buttoned to the top with a tie.
     


  11. Fritz

    Fritz Senior member

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    OK, let's try to do a comparison on a cost per wearing basis for a $ 325 shirt. Let N be the number of wearings (or more precisely washings) you get out of the shirt with the "normal" $1,50 cleaning. Then the total cost over lifetime is: $325 + N * $1,5. The cost per wearing would be: ($325 + N * $1,5) / N = $325/N + $1,5. Do the same calculation for the handwashed shirt, with H being the number of wearings for that one, and you get: $325/H + $4. Now we set those to equal to determine the break-even point: $325/N = $325/H + $2,5 Assuming that a handwash represents proper care, you should get 100 wearings out of your shirt ( I think Kabbaz gave that number, correct me if I am wrong). Therefore: $325/N = $3,25 + $2,5 = $,5,75 meaning that the break-even would be at N = 56,5 wearings. If normal laundry destroys your shirt in less than that, you would be better off with the handwash. If your shirt lasts more than that, handwash isn't worth it. [​IMG] I think, however, this is a question of personal taste as much as anything. Some people (like me) grow attached to their stuff and want to last it as long as possible. I also know people who enjoy buying something new every time they have an excuse for it, so for them paying extra to make their shirts last longer might not be worth it, all mathematics aside.
     


  12. Texel

    Texel Active Member

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    If I find the time I handwash all the expensive clothes, because they don't lose their colour and they don't look older after a time which I personally hate.
     


  13. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Hand-pressing is much, MUCH more important than handwashing. Commercial presses, or at least the way they are operated 99% of the time, are hell on shirts. And a destroyer of MOP buttons.

    If you want to save money, wash your shirts yourself (cold water, gentle cycle for maximum lifespan). Scrub out any stains with soap and a fingernail brush before you wash. If you get to the stain quick enough (i.e., day of) I have found that anything will come out with this treatment. Wet the area with the stain, scrub with a soapy brush, hang the shirt for a while, then rinse the area, then wash. Once washed, air dry them, and then take them somewhere to have them hand-pressed. You can press them yourself, but I find it takes me too long to be worth it.
     


  14. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    I take all my shirts to the cleaners. I've had no broken buttons in over 3 years. The cleaners I use definitely don't break buttons -- whether MOP or plastic.

    If having shirts commercially laundered like this decreases the lifespan of my shirts, I can't tell. I think last year I donated one shirt that was just barely starting to fray at the sleeve cuffs -- it was a frequently worn Mariano Rubinacci shirt I bought in about 1995. That's all I can think of. IMO, the time saved is well (.) worth it.

    By the way, I pay about $1.00 per shirt. However, to save even more time, I just started using a cleaner that has home pick-up and delivery, which charges $1.80/shirt.
     


  15. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    How does one find a good shop that will hand press? Can you simply ask if they hand press or will most launderers lie or give you an answer based on a different definition of hand press?
     


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