It started innocently enough. It always does.
We (finally) took family pictures on a Sunday morning. We planned to get everyone up and dressed, take pictures, pick up some donuts on the way home, and then be done. So while a normal trip out of our house involves lots of prep, planning, and packing, I got to travel light this time. All I grabbed was my phone, a hairbrush, and my favorite red lipstick. I didn’t even need a purse!
Family photos went off without a hitch. We grabbed breakfast, and upon heading home, everyone immediately changed out of their picture clothes in favor of more comfortable Sunday wear, and we went on with the rest of our day.
Laundry day comes around, and I throw a load of delicates in the washer. A few sweaters, some nicer work clothes, underwear and of course, the clothes I’d worn for pictures on Sunday. They finish up, I pull out a few items that have to line dry and let the rest get to work in the dryer.
I thought I heard something clanging around in the dryer a few times, but I just assumed it was a button or some loose change in the metal drum. Didn’t give it a second thought, and went to bed while the clothes were drying.
The next day, to save myself having to pull out my ironing board, I decided to give those clothes a quick 20-minute touch up to get the wrinkles out before I put them away. Once again, I heard the clanging sound. This time I paid a little more attention to the sound but figured I’d deal with it when I pulled the clothes out.
And oh, did I deal with it.
I pulled the first few items out of the dryer without paying much attention. And then a cream-colored sweater caught my eye. COVERED in red spots. I started panicking. What could it be? How could I get it out? I set it off to the side and kept pulling out clothes. And that’s when I noticed it. The red spots all. over. everything. Multiple shirts. A pair of pants. And almost every single pair of underwear I own.
And then staring up at me from the inside of the empty dryer was the culprit: the bright red lipstick I’d worn for our family pictures, and then stuck in my pocket when we were finished. Or at least, the shell of it, because the lipstick itself had been melted into oblivion thanks to multiple trips through the dryer.
So I did the first thing I do in any crisis: text my mom.
“Am I totally screwed?”
We set out searching for ways I could try to save my clothes. Color catchers, stain remover, Goo Gone, send it all to the dry cleaner. The ideas were plentiful, and I got to work.
First things first, I decided that I wasn’t spending my time scrubbing lipstick stains out of my underwear. They’d get replaced soon enough anyway, and who’s going to see them other than my husband and me?
Stain remover lightened a few spots but was overall pretty ineffective. My panic intensified.
The Goo Gone proved to be the real hero of the (now very late) night. After a round of that with yet another round through the washing machine officially had the most expensive item of clothing in that load spot-free. The second round of Goo Gone had almost everything gone.
Except for the shirt that started it all.
That cream-colored cowl neck sweater. I had found it while visiting my mom a few years ago. It’s in heavy rotation in my fall and winter wardrobe. Perfect to dress up for work, or down for a weekend around the house. It was still covered in lipstick, inside and out. If I had to guess, the lipstick tube got wrapped up in that specific item of clothing as it melted away inside the dryer. And with multiple washes and stain treatments already in place, it just didn’t look like it was getting any better.
It sat on top of the dryer for several days before I tossed it out. I just wasn’t ready to accept what I already knew in my heart: that sweater was done for. I was so thankful I’d been able to save the rest of a load of laundry, but I just couldn’t get over this one sweater.
Moral of the story: Always check your pockets.
(Oh, and to add insult to injury, they discontinued that shade of red lipstick.)