When Tori sent me a link to Celsious, an eco friendly laundromat in Brooklyn headed up by two stunner sisters from Germany, my very professional response was, “OMG, YES. I LOVE THIS AND THEM. SHOULD WE PUT THEM ON THE SITE?!” (I have never been one to hold back my enthusiasm.) But my hunch was right when I met with Corinna and Theresa in their chic and cheerful laundromat in Williamsburg (complete with an adorable cafe and backyard space) and got straight up schooled in all the things I’ve been doing wrong while washing my laundry. I cannot wait for you all to read the below and your jaws to be as slack as mine was! Allow me to introduce you to the formidable Corinna and Theresa!
Despite being sisters, you were in very different work environments prior to Celsious, how did you ultimately fuse together to form Celsious?
Corinna: In my pre-laundry professional life, I worked as an editor for German Elle and US Editor at Large for Harper’s Bazaar Germany, which means I was in constant touch with the most precious garments and developed an interest in how to treat, package and care for them. When I moved from Germany to New York, I was confronted with the not so pretty reality of New York laundromats and toyed around with the idea of opening a place that fit my needs for a clean, efficient space that also provided specialty garment care for my favorite clothes in a beautiful setting.
Theresa: I trained as a product designer at Central St. Martin’s in London and subsequently worked as an eyewear designer before joining my sister in NYC. I’ve always had a hands on approach to my practice which was an asset when it came to building and furnishing Celsious’ flagship location.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you see people make when washing their clothes?
Theresa: One of the most common mistakes is not pre-treating laundry. Specifically with more severe stains, they should be treated immediately. Many stains become much harder to remove after they have set and getting them out will require much harsher treatment, which will ultimately shorten your garment’s life cycle.
Some other laundry “sins” we see being committed often include, under-loading the washer (high efficiency front-loading washers like ours actually perform best when loaded all the way to the top of the drum to create optimal friction between the clothes and the drum of the machine), overloading the dryer (you should always only load half way full to optimize airflow between individual pieces of laundry) and overloading on detergent (if you do have an high efficiency machine, the main washing action is achieved by the machine’s spin cycle, water temperature and above-mentioned friction, not so much soapy suds).
Do you have a specific type of soap you suggest for clients to use and why? What is harmful about regular detergent?
Corinna: The general rule of thumb for detergents is: the fewer ingredients, the better! Our house laundry detergent by The Simply Co. only has three ingredients: wash soda, baking soda and vegan organic castile soap. Some other products we love and carry are by German cleaning expert Sonett. All Sonett products are completely free of petrochemicals, GMOs, enzymes and instead use oils and essential oils from organic farming only.
Conventional detergents leave residue on your clothing, which you might be wearing directly on your skin. Our skin is our largest organ, its pores absorb substances that come into contact with them. Substances in the detergent will also affect your respiratory tract (by breathing them in) and enter the bloodstream by way of your skin and thus affect all organs of your body.
Conventional detergents also often contain a lot of harmful ingredients: SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), a washing substance that irritates mucous membranes and often contains the by-product 1-4 Dioxane, which is suspected of causing cancer and has adverse effects on your lungs, liver and central nervous system.
Highly toxic formaldehyde, which has been banned from many nail polishes, also causes cancer and may lead to diseases of the central nervous system. DEA (diethanolamine), which can restrict reproductive health in men. Synthetic colors, fragrances and preservatives that may trigger (skin) allergies, etc. This list could go on and on… The most enraging fact is that laundry care product manufacturers do not need to list all laundry detergent ingredients on the packaging. So even if you don’t find these exact ingredients we’ve listed above on your laundry soap box, it does’t necessarily mean it is safe!
Why do you suggest not to use dryer sheets and instead use dryer balls?
Theresa: We suggest using our alternative, dryer balls, for three reasons:
1) Dryer sheets are wasteful. You use them once and then discard them. Since they are not biodegradable, they end up in the landfill.
2) For above reason, they are also expensive. Our wool dryer balls are $15 for 3 and they last virtually a lifetime.
3) Most dryer sheets contain toxic ingredients. They are coated with a film of wax, that, under the guise of “fragrance” oftentimes contains carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting substances that detergent manufacturers do not have to declare. If you like dryer sheets for the scent, try dabbing wool dry balls by Woolzies with some organic essential oils.
4) As a bonus, the dryer balls will prevent static cling, soften your laundry and even speed up your dry by bouncing around in the dryer and allowing for optimal air flow.
Why have you chosen not to offer it as a service at Celsious?
Corinna: First and foremost, there is one common misconception we need to address: Dry-cleaning is NOT dry! It happens in an industrial washer, in which your clothes are “washed” with everyone else’s dry cleaning in a chemical solvent! Apart from the fact that your laundry is in there with everyone else’s (yuck!), dry cleaning is harmful on two levels: 1. to your health and 2. to the environment.
One of the most commonly used solvents, perchlorethylene or tetrachloroethylene, commonly referred to as perc, is a chlorinated hydrocarbon that is absorbed through the respiratory tract, through the skin and detected in the blood. It irritates eyes and respiratory system and is suspected of being carcinogenic. As the solvent leaves a film on clothing, it is detrimental not only to workers in the cleaning industry, but also the wearer of clothing. And perc is an environmental toxin that can contaminate ground water if not disposed of professionally in toxic waste bins.
Are clothes that say “dry clean only” really “dry clean only”?
Theresa: No, not necessarily! Many of the items that are labelled “Dry Clean Only” can actually be washed with water – you just need to use the correct water temperature, spin, time and detergent. At Celsious, we have specialty programs for delicate items like lingerie, wool/cashmere and down comforters. If you don’t live in proximity to Celsious, opt for hand wash with cold water and a delicate/wool detergent for any of the above listed items. Make sure to air-dry them flat them instead of tumbling or hanging. As for more intricate items, i.e. your leather jacket and/or silky embellished evening gown, we hope to bring even more specialized garment care, using water, not perc, to NYC soon.