How to Get the Blood, Sweat and Tears out of Your Riding Clothes

Laundry is not nearly as fun as riding. That is a fact.

Another fact is that riding in breeches you shrunk in the wash is not much fun either. So let’s learn how to do laundry.

Riding apparel is expensive. There is a distinct chance that you spend twice as much on breeches as you do on jeans without batting an eyelash. You have to properly take care of that stuff.

The Dryer Debate

“… But, I can’t put it in the dryer?” This was a common refrain I had directed at me by customers while working at a tack shop. I couldn’t resist huffing impatiently at them. Laundry is becoming a lost art – a nuisance.

The modern culture of instant gratification has taken all the joy out of caring for our personal possessions. Dryers are horrible for clothes, period. Glorious stretchy fibers, like spandex and lycra, are going to break down gradually over time. Even though that sun shirt looks fine after a couple dryer cycles, it is slowly getting damaged.

Hand Washing is Cool

It sounds so tedious, but it really does not take long at all. My reasoning is that if you live in an apartment with shared laundry, throwing some shirts in the sink takes even less time than trucking down eight floors to the basement.

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Place dirty things in the sink. Fill with some warm water, sprinkle a little detergent in, and squash it all around. Run fresh water and keep squashing until the bubbles are gone. Be satisfied and slightly disgusted at all the dirt coming out of your show shirts. Gently wring, hang to dry, and presto!

Stains Be Gone

Oh, the grand variety of dirty substances we need to deal with. There’s horse drool, old-fashioned dirt, sweat, grease, blood and perhaps even red wine stains depending on what kind of show day you had. It’s impossible to predict when you will need to siphon mineral oil into an impacted mini pony (as was the case when I happened to be wearing my one pair of Pikeurs). Bleach sort of scares me – I don’t actually own any. Here are some alternatives:

Horse stains: Dirt, drool, poop. Horses are just lovely. Rub some detergent and/or stain remover into the offending area. Let it sit, then soak in warm water for a half hour. Wash as you would normally. Warm and hot water is more effective for these stains.

Grease stains: Hamburgers, mineral oil, grooming products. Half-and-half vinegar and baking soda, used in the same method as above.

Wine stains: Fight merlot with pinot gris – white wine neutralizes red wine stains. Baking soda paste is also effective, although let’s be honest, you are way more likely to have chardonnay lying around.

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Blood: A hydrogen peroxide and water soak. Washing blood-stained clothing on high heat sets the stains in, so make sure it’s on cold.

Shoe polish: You polished the inside of your boots, didn’t you – and now it’s all over your white saddle pad. Tut, tut. Soaking in laundry detergent and water with a few drops of ammonia will help.

With any stains, washing sooner is much better than washing later.

Why it’s worth it

Laundry is my favorite chore. Every week I “decorate” my apartment with wet clothing too precious to put in the dryer. Ironing is like a meditation. Everything smells nice afterward. What’s not to love?

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