Patric Richardson doesn’t let the stains of life bring him down. In fact, it thrives in more messy times. MOA boutique owner Mona Williams – and a long-time member of the city’s fashion mafia – is also known as the Laundry Evangelist. And thanks to a new show on Discovery + and her first book, her message about the influence of laundry on your life is about to unfold.
First of all, the show. The laundry guy takes Richardson to private homes (most of which are here in the Twin Cities), where he’s tasked with solving textile accidents and disasters. In one episode, he removes decades-old oil stains from a heirloom quilt; in another, he removes a mysterious sticky substance from the vinyl sleeves of a college letter jacket using an unusual method. Through it all, her effusive and empathetic nature shines brightly – making the fabric care stories feel like so much more. And the book, The Love of Laundry: Finding Joy in a Common Chore, is part of the memoir and how-to guide, with Richardson’s signature humor running through every page.
Before his spring debut, which was just a day apart, we spoke to Richardson to learn more about the intersection of life, love, and laundry.
How did you learn to take care of clothes?
I love the clothes. I chose clothes when I was three years old. And I come from a family that loves clothes: my grandma was one of the nicest dressed people ever, and my mom – I described her in the book as “Jackie Kennedy with a streak.” from South”. We lived in a very small town in eastern Kentucky, which for a while did not have a dry cleaner. So we had to figure out how to take care of things, otherwise we couldn’t wear them – and neither of us were people who wouldn’t wear something. They started this love story.
You brought that passion and skill to Mona Williams, where you run sold-out Laundry Camp classes. What piqued people’s interest?
I had a laundry area in the store so people could buy items to take care of their designer pieces. People started to get interested in the products right away, but after about a year they wanted to learn more about laundry. We started doing these laundry camps once a week, and they were always full, so I kept doing them, and they kept growing, until I did eight a week.
How? ‘Or’ What The laundry guy come?
Someone from the production company came to Laundry Camp, and they got the idea that it could be a show. We shot a pilot last summer, and the show went from there. I can’t say I’m proud of it because I don’t want to take credit for it. The real people who are the stars are the people with the things I care about. When you see it, you are going to fall in love with these people.
On the show, you teach people how to clean up sentimental items. How does it feel to approach something with such an emotional connection?
The truth is, a wedding dress is still just a dress. A baby coat is always a coat. We put such strong emotional bonds in them that we are paralyzed with fear of doing anything about them. I want to give them respect, but at the end of the day it’s a dress and a coat. If you treat them like a dress and a coat, you back off. There’s some detective work involved, trying to piece together what a stain is, what fabric is. And then you take care of it. It’s amazing how much you care for, and if you think it’s ruined, you might think it’s never going to be as good as it was. And then, when you see it as it is, all the emotion comes back.
Cleaning and organization rooms, such as Storage with Marie Kondo and Get organized with The Home Edit, have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Why do you think it is?
We want to take care of those we love and of ourselves. With these shows, a big part is taking back control of your home. I think The laundry guy fits into that – like, I can do this, I can do the laundry, I can take control and I can enjoy it. I think this is the most important thing; it’s telling you that you can take care of your business, your home, and the whole experience of life. That’s what people want: they want to benefit from the process.
How do the book and the show connect and differ?
The book is about those women in my life who are and were important in my life – my grandmother, my mother, our neighbor, my stepmother – and what I learned from them. And it’s all tied to a laundry book. When you read the book you will learn how to do your laundry, but you will also learn about these women who got me started on this path and how they taught me to love and take care of beautiful things. They gave me the solid foundation that led to the show. They gave me the idea for you to do laundry for the people you love and take care of things, and now I can pass that on to other people.
Do you have any laundry tips you’d like people to know about?
Always wash hot and always use the express cycle – express is long enough to clean your clothes and lukewarm is hot enough to activate your detergent. And don’t be afraid to wear clothes more than once. It drives me crazy that people think they have to wash something every time they wear it, when sometimes it’s enough to steam it. Then the clothes wear out faster – and it’s bad for the environment, bad for your wallet, and no one wins.
The last thing is: don’t panic; wear your clothes. It breaks my heart that people have their favorite thing and not wear it. How overwhelming is that? I wear my tuxedo jacket over a concert t-shirt and jeans, because if something goes wrong I wash it, that’s okay. Once you learn a little more about laundry, you won’t have to be afraid to wear your favorite garment anymore. You’re never going to ruin it unless you set it on fire. And, you know, even then we’ll talk.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.