Our Priceless ($200) Load Of Laundry


The culprit.

A couple of months ago, Mr PoP was getting ready to leave on a work trip and I wanted to have his work clothes clean and ready to go. So I picked up all of the work clothes that we had worn so far that week (3 outfits each), and loaded them into the washer. But in my rush, I managed to miss the presence of a pen in one of Mr. PoP’s pockets.

Mind you, Mr. PoP doesn’t use just any pens. He likes using the Sharpie pens which are, of course, chock full of indelible ink.

The pen was only discovered when it began clattering around the dryer, so I pulled it out (cap intact) and hoped for the best with the clothes. Surely there was a chance I would get lucky and the ink hadn’t gotten out?


Sadly, Murphy’s Law Prevailed


Losses for Mr PoP

  • 3 pair pants (2 new from the holidays khakis, and one older pair that I was happy to see go)
  • 3 oxford style shirts (2 were new from the holidays, a tragic loss)

Losses for Mrs PoP

  • 1 beloved 10-year-old khaki skirt
  • 3 office shirts/blouses


A Mini-Crisis

For us, this is a pretty big deal. Mr. PoP runs his wardrobe much like a just-in-time manufacturing line where he typically has enough nice office clothes to last him about one week. It’s a pretty delicate supply chain, and any disruption can throw the whole thing off largely because Mr PoP hates getting new clothes.

To say he hates shopping is really minimizing it. It takes an inordinate amount of cajoling and promises of brownies to get Mr. PoP to even try on clothes that I’ve purchased for him – even after he says he needs new clothes and knows it’s coming. (I love him, but when it comes to clothes shopping he’s more apt to act like he’s 3 rather than 30.)

A large part of his hatred of shopping comes from the fact that Mr. PoP takes a very engineering attitude to clothing. There are sizes and model numbers on clothes and he wants to get the exact same size, style, and color (oh yeah – the color blind aspect doesn’t make shopping any easier either!) to replace his old clothes. But those aren’t always in stock, much less in existence if the style has been changed.


So when I pulled the pen out of the laundry, I wondered – how expensive is this mistake going to be in terms of time and money?


Two Months Later, Mostly Whole Again

With one exception, ~$200 has replaced most of the clothing that we lost that day.

  • $65 for 3 pair of pants for Mr. PoP
  • $95 for 5 oxford shirts for Mr. PoP
  • $35 for 3 sundresses for Mrs PoP that replaced the blouses and are great for biking to work

The only remaining item that’s still a loss is my 10-year-old khaki skirt. “Good riddance,” some fashionistas might say, “It was 10 years old!” I know! And I wore it about once a week for the last decade. That’s ~500 times! It was just so comfortable, and so “me” that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to actually replace it. [Scratch that – I’m saving it for the day when my non-existent sewing skills get good enough that I will be able to deconstruct the skirt panels, make a pattern, and reconstruct me a new skirt that looks and feels exactly the same as the old one…]


A Couple of Take Homes


My Awesome Orange Sign.

The simplest take home message on this is that an ounce of prevention could have spared us from this tragedy. I need to check all pockets before the wash every time, simple as that. So to help, I put up a bright orange sign on the dryer reminding me to do so. (We like orange paper for honey-do lists and finding rental tenants, too!)

But the more interesting take home is that nearly 4 years into our marriage we’re finally starting to get better at clothes shopping as a team for Mr. PoP. He’s seeing that size and styles aren’t consistent, even within the same brand. So his dream of “shop by number” isn’t the reality. [I think this hit home when he realized he had basically the same shirt in different colors in his hand to buy, but had 3 different sizes.]

And I’m getting better about picking my battles. It’s been such a challenge to get Mr. PoP into a store (or even to get him to try on clothes that I bring home) that I used to pile it on. “Since you’re already trying on all those shirts, try on these 6 pairs of pants too! How about another store or checking out the suit department since you keep saying you should get a new suit one of these days?” This go around, I was better about that, and it was actually Mr. PoP who suggested we try one more store for shirts before heading home.


Not the cheapest lessons we’ve ever learned, but probably long overdue in the grand scheme of things.


Have you learned any expensive lessons lately?

65 comments to Our Priceless ($200) Load Of Laundry

  • I have washed Greg’s wallet too many times to count. It never ruins his clothing…but it’s a huge pain!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Club Thrifty May Budget Review: Epic FailMy Profile

  • That ink might come out of the skirt if you wash it enough. Don’t dry it in the dryer while you’re doing it. Sharpie isn’t completely indelible– we have to relabel DC1’s clothing from time to time because permanent ink isn’t the same as laundry markers.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Do some people *want* to be miserable?: A deliberately controversial postMy Profile

    • Good to know. It’s in tiny splotches all over the skirt, so maybe if I just wash it every week it’ll come out some time. If you saved my skirt, you have my never ending gratitude.

      • Walt

        Try Shout gel. It’s magic or something.

        It seems like it will get anything out. I’ve definitely gotten Sharpie out with it.

        Sometimes it takes a half dozen washes but it ultimately comes out. Just don’t put your stuff in the dryer until you’re satisfied with the stain removal.

        • I’ll try some! So far I just keep washing the skirt per some of the other commenter’s suggestions but so far not a whole lot of progress on it.

    • CincyCat

      I was going to suggest the same thing. Alternately, you could dye the entire skirt a new color fairly inexpensively, which would preserve the “comfy-ness” of it, while disguising the stains.

  • I’ve washed a pack of gum once… that was a giant pain but we were able to get most of it out thankfully! I always check my pockets when I put clothes in the hamper now.
    Lance @ Money Life and More recently posted..Resist the Urge to Upgrade Furnishings in Your New HomeMy Profile

  • Meg

    Your husband and mine must be cut from the same cloth. All his pants have to be the same size and brand, ditto the dress shirts or else he gets cranky. But as long as Lands’ End and Brooks Brothers don’t discontinue anything, we’ll be OK. I make things easy by buying everything online. Most stores will let you return online purchases to their brick and mortar outposts, so I don’t need to worry about return shipping.
    Meg recently posted..I Have Discovered the BroilerMy Profile

    • Oh, I tried to get Mr. PoP into brooks brothers since I had heard their product cycle was long and their clothes just as long lasting, but to no avail. The shirts just don’t fit him!

      • Meg

        We bought a bunch when CodeMonkey was working in investment banking and needed clothes NOW. As they die, we’re going to get customs made, because my husband has an 18.5″ neck and 32″ sleeves. That size doesn’t exist, but even worse, he is nowhere near as hefty as most men with necks that large, so there’s great billowing clouds of extra fabric around his torso. Shit shopping is almost comical.
        Meg recently posted..I Have Discovered the BroilerMy Profile

  • W always leaves stuff in his pockets! It’s very annoying. The other day he got blue ink all over my shirts. Luckily they all washed out.
    Michelle recently posted..How I’m Getting Rid of My Student loans FAST – $200 GiveawayMy Profile

  • Aww man, that stinks. I washed a load of darks that had an orange polo mixed in there, and the shirt ended up ruining my brown Banana Republic skirt. I’m going to try to salvage it by dying it black or gray.
    Tina @My Shiny Pennies recently posted..Marrying a Financial Equal (or Not)My Profile

    • Ooh, that sounds like a shame. Let me know how dyeing it goes! I’m thinking of trying to dye a couple of shirts that have started to fade a little but I’m worried about it ruining my washer or not turning out even.

      • trudy

        I dye things with Rit liquid dye. It works well with a couple of conditions. You really need to get the garment wet before you put it in the washing machine with the dye, as they say, otherwise it will come out uneven. And some fabrics are treated to resist dying. I have only used it on mostly cotton.

        They sell it on their website if you can’t find the colors you want in stores. Also somewhere on the web is a chart of how to get colors they don’t have by mixing their colors.

        • trudy

          I do run the washer through a couple of empty cycles afterwards, and wipe down anything that misses. Sometimes there has been a little discoloration in the washer, but it does not seem to come off on anything and eventually goes away.

          • Thanks for the tips, trudy! I’m thinking about a denim skirt that used to be much darker but has faded a bit. Have you done denim?

  • OH NO I hate when stuff like that happens!! The most that I usually forget is kleenex in my pockets which is a pain but not the end of the world. It’s also hard to lose your favorite clothing item. :(
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Giving Up Habits to Save MoneyMy Profile

  • I empathize with the khaki shirt loss – I ruined one of my favorite dresses the same way and you would have thought I lost a friend. Definitely a learning lesson to empty out pockets, since now I make it a point to turn pockets inside out before putting anything in the wash.
    anna recently posted..Space Cadet MomentsMy Profile

  • I had the same thing happen to me about fiv years ago omly it was a liquid ink pen and a whole laundry load of brand new, never warn scrubs. I had just spent liie 160 on them the same day.

  • Oh no that’s horrible! I hate when clothes get ruined. I can’t always run my clothes through the dryer – my boyfriend and I are on the taller side and things are always shrinking on us, and we cannot stand to have long-sleeves that don’t reach our wrists. It’s such a hassle! My mom has always checked our pockets for stuff, but I think it’s mostly men’s clothes you need to watch out for. I’ll have to keep this in mind for when we start doing our laundry together…
    On a side note, I loved the bribing with brownies bit. Brownies are definitely a powerful tool.
    E.M. recently posted..Saving Your Money: Why It’s ImportantMy Profile

  • ouch! I used to do public laundry and the occasional missing item (even underwear!) made it expensive some days. Sorry about the khaki shirt, it is always hard to lose loved items.
    Pauline recently posted..Creating a worry-free financial lifeMy Profile

  • Stolen underwear? That’s a weird one!

  • I made a similar mistake many years ago…I was at home, helping with the family laundry. I left a tube of cherry chapstick in the pocket of a white skirt. When I took the wash out of the machine, my skirt…as well as my dad’s white dress shirts…had these cute pink polka dots everywhere. Whoops!

    More recently, I accidentally drove through the EZPass lane on the toll road four times (two round trips) before realizing I had left the toll road transponder in my husband’s car. I’m expecting to receive some hefty fines from the NJ Turnpike Authority. That will be a budget buster!
    JW_Umbrella Treasury recently posted..Festive, Frugal, No-Fuss PartyMy Profile

    • Chasa

      If you know what tolls you went through you can generally go online and pay within 2 weeks of the violation with no penalties. Also, I know that at least IL has some “forgiveness” – you can go through three tolls without paying in some length of time (maybe a year?) without getting fined. You should look into it! Better than waiting for a wallop later.

    • haha, the pink polka dots could have been cute if they were uniformly distributed =)

      I’m with Chasa on the toll penalty. FL has some sort of forgiveness program where if you cop to it quickly you get reduced fines. I’d call up the turnpike authority and see what you can find out!

  • Oh my goodness. I so feel your pain. We take Murphy’s Law one step further in this household by always, always, always managing to do this with something red.

    My daughters generally do the happy dance when they see every single piece of light-ish colored clothing come out Disney Princess pink. Me, not so much.

    They don’t call me Mr. Laundry for nothing, oh wait, yes they do.
    Christian recently posted..What Is Brain Entrainment?My Profile

    • haha, nice. If you run the clothes through the dryer extra long, your shirts might even shrink enough to be cute little pink dresses for your girls!

  • Chasa

    I’ve been following PF blogs for a while, and am continually amazed at the budgets people are able to keep for themselves. $35 for three sundresses?! That is absolutely amazing. I literally don’t know where I would find $12 (with taxes) sundresses. That kind of behavior is how you double (it was a bit more than double, right?) your net worth in a year. It’s too bad that you made that laundry mistake, but replacing all that clothing for $200 is just an example of how committed you are to frugal living. And that wasn’t even the point of the post! I’ve found it difficult to find and hang out with frugal people in real life. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s where I live, but thank you for giving a window into how people can and should live.

    • Haha, definitely not the point of the post, but we do manage to find some good clothes deals – and I think these were some particularly good ones.
      The sundresses came from TJMaxx (or was it Ross?) and the clearance rack at Target, the pants happened to be a buy 1 get 2 free sale, and the shirts were all 40-50% off sales with some coupons stacked on them.

    • The funny thing is, I don’t even think about this as anything special – it’s just kindof a habit we’ve gotten into. When Mr. PoP needs clothes, we really aim to get them around major holidays for the sales (Father’s day is a great one for men’s clothing!), and I’ll usually just walk past the clearance sections and pick stuff up on the cheap throughout the year. Since I knew I wanted sundresses, I went explicitly to TJMaxx (or seriously – was it Ross?) since I knew my MIL had a lot of luck getting dresses there before and they carry so many different styles it was worth a shot.

  • I’m constantly washing things that shouldn’t be washed. I’m lucky enough to not have washed anything that has ruined my clothes, but lets just say I have a habit of handing cashiers $20 bills that smell like a fresh spring morning.
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..Taking Profits In A Bull MarketMy Profile

  • Ivy

    I haven’t had problems with laundry, but as mistakes go I drive now and then with the hand brake on, and I’ve been known not to notice the “check engine” light for some time. No short term issues, but who knows what will hit us eventually as a result of this – will surely be more than $200:-(

  • Oh no! This is so sad. I thought you might have washed an iphone, but poor Mr. Pop and his hatred of shopping! Poor you for putting up with him. 😉 (Kidding Mr. P!)
    Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted..Does Hanging Clothes On The Line Really Save You Money?My Profile

    • Ooh, an iPhone would have been an expensive mistake, too! Though buying a replacement would have been easier than clothes shopping for Mr. PoP =)

  • I’ve destroyed new clothes at work more times then I care to remember. I work in a lab and all the bio stuff needs to be bleached before flushing it down the sink with water. I should be wearing a lab coat, but sometimes I don’t and every time I don’t I get a couple of drops of bleach that make their way out of the sink and right onto the front of my new shirt or jeans. It’s so frustrating! You would think I’ve learned my lesson after years of doing this, but every once in a while it’ll happen again. Come to think of it maybe it just happens when I wear new clothes to work.
    Mr. Bonner recently posted..Dollar value averagingMy Profile

    • Oh bleach. I’ve learned I need to change before I use bleach spray to clean up around the house otherwise I’ll end up with little tiny specks of bleach spots all over my clothes!

      Also – a job with a lab coat sounds awesome. What do you do?

  • That too bad losing those clothes, especially the one you’ve treasured for how many years.
    KC @ genxfinance recently posted..Crowdfunding WebsitesMy Profile

  • I feel exactly the same way as Mr. Pop about buying clothing! It’s fine if they want to change the fancy stuff every few months, but the work staples should remain the same. I would just put my work pants and work shirts on auto order to get me one pair every 6-12 months or something. It would make the retailer a steady stream of income, and I’d never run out of work clothes!

    • We had a brilliant idea to do that with shoes and integrate it into runkeeper (imagine being shipped a fresh pair of running shoes after every 500 miles you clock), but the shoe models seem to change too often, too!

  • I love the orange sign. I need to set reminders like that for myself all over the place. Much more effective than trying to keep everything on schedule in that jumbled brain of mine.
    Matt Becker recently posted..The Simple, Effective Approach to Investing (Part 4): Implementing Your Investment PlanMy Profile

  • Sounds like my son who seems to always have pens and markers in his pocket. I have left cash in my pockets a few times but luckily the bills just get washed. That sign will surely be a reminder.

  • Karen

    I have ruined my favorite shorts by ironing them (which I’d ironed before). Can you dye the skirt? I’m sure that you prefer it khaki but maybe dk blue or black would be good? Or try oxy clean?

    • ooh, how did ironing the shorts ruin them? What kind of fabric were they?

      Does oxy clean really work? I always thought it was kindof a scam product.

      • Karen

        They’re kind if nylon-y. Yes, I’ve kept them with delusions of place a patch there or something…LOL

        Oxy Clean has worked on somethings, actually.

      • Oxyclean is great for cleaning sometimes and sometimes not. You can’t use it too often, as it can be rough on clothes. See if you have a friend with it so you can just borrow some.

        I’d keep washing that skirt. There are various alcohol-based cleaners that will take out sharpie, but I’d worry about those bleach our your skirt too. You could try using isopropanol on an inconspicuous part of the skirt first. If it doesn’t damage the fabric, you could try that on the sharpie spots. But, honestly, I’d just throw the skirt in to every applicable load possible and hope that repeated washings helps. Also, hang the skirt out to dry in the sun instead of doing the dryer.
        Leah recently posted..Life is goodMy Profile

  • How many chapsticks have I ruined and how many lipsticks ruined EVERYTHING ELSE when put in the washer and dryer… (cringe) I apparently don’t learn!
    Shannyn @frugalbeautiful.com recently posted..Why You Should Start Saving For Your Wedding On The First DateMy Profile

  • DOn’t even get me started on laundy! I can’t count how many notebooks and pens I’ve washed (seriously, it’s not my job to check his pockets!) Luckily these are just ballpoint pens – the only fallout has been ink stains on my old bathrobe. T also used to get really greasy and dusty at work and some of that has rubbed off on the odd garment of mine during the wash cycle.
    eemusings recently posted..First impressions of CambodiaMy Profile

  • […] Our Priceless Load of Laundry at Planting Our Pennies  I’m sure everyone has ruined a load or two of laundry.  My tally is up in the double digits.  My favorite bit is when she says this: […]

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  • I’ve lost a few cellphones to my laundry. I could probably use a sign like that on my washer to make sure I double check.
    David @my2centopinion recently posted..My Ally AccountMy Profile

  • […] tend to have few possessions, and really hate to go shopping. But, I will say that when I buy something I have a tendency to spend a good deal of money on it. […]

  • L

    It has been a while! How is your skirt? If you do end up trying to make another one, try this:

    I have not tried this method, but it looks like it would work!

    Also, I have dyed a (large, cotton) skirt with RIT dye. I was worried about ruining my mother’s washing machine, so I used a plastic tub out in the backyard.

    • The skirt is currently folded in the bottom of my drawer awaiting next steps… we’ve been pretty preoccupied with other DIY projects and this one definitely fell by the wayside. But thanks for the tips!