I recently discovered that I’ve been washing my LDS temple garments incorrectly for years. They are special to me, and I want them to look pristinely white for as long as possible. But I didn’t know how to wash and dry them properly. I thought I knew. But I didn’t.
For those of you who are not members of our faith, LDS temple garments are sacred clothing we wear as undergarments. Why are they sacred to us? Because they symbolize holy covenants we make with God in our temples. Many religions worldwide use sacred garments in their worship services. Here is a video, produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that shows this beautifully:
You can see why my temple garments are important to me and why I’d like to keep them pure and white. So what was I doing wrong when I washed them? Everything. Let me explain. Here’s where I need to slip into Mormon terminology.
First, I am specifically talking about the various fabrics available for LDS garments, not the garment itself. I am in no way criticizing the actual garment. After purchasing various garment fabrics and not being happy with them long term, I finally consulted with LDS Distribution Center workers. Since proper care instructions are not listed on the garment packaging, members are left to guess, which is what I’d been doing. Care instructions are available online, but I hadn’t thought to search for them.
From the ladies I spoke with, I learned that the fabric used is dyed white. So it’s a color fabric, which means if you’re going to use bleach on any temple garment fabric, it MUST be COLOR-SAFE bleach. No substitutes. You will get yellowed garments after multiple washings with regular bleach. If you don’t want to add color-safe bleach, the ladies recommended that you add either 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide OR 1/4 cup white vinegar (not both) to help ensure brightness and a fresh smell.
Also, the water temperature should be COLD or WARM, depending on the fabric–but not HOT. Guess which setting I’d been using? Yep, the hot. I guess I felt like they’d be extra clean if I did that. Instead, over time the white color had dulled because I hadn’t used the right temperature.
I then asked the ladies which of all the garment fabrics feels the most cool during the summer heat. Without hesitation, they recommended Dri Lux, because of its ability to wick away moisture. I was surprised because I’d been wearing Dri Lux for about a year and a half and didn’t like it. I was always hot, sweaty, and somewhat stinky in my garment tops especially. I know, TMI, but I’m trying to help others to avoid similar problems. So what was I doing wrong? Two things: First, you cannot use any fabric softener on Dri Lux fabric. This means no fabric softener in the rinse water or in dryer sheets. Unfortunately, I’d been tossing in the dryer sheets every load. Why no fabric softener? Because it will make the fabric ineffective at wicking away moisture. Second, even with proper care, the fabric’s wicking feature is only effective for about 12 to 18 months. Since I’d had mine for about 18 months, and with my fabric softener faux pas, my garments were long past their prime.
And now that you know how to wash your garments correctly, let me share a little humor. Many years ago, a former coworker/friend of mine at LDS Church headquarters was editing manuals and other instructional materials when he was assigned to review text about the temple garments. It included lots of instructions about the fabrics, styles, and tops. However, this friend couldn’t believe it when he saw this heading: “How to Select a Man’s Bottom.” And who says an editor’s job isn’t funny? Even years later, the incident makes me laugh.
I hope no Church member will think that I am speaking inappropriately about our sacred temple garments. That is certainly not my intent here. Temple garments are to be treated with respect. I wear them at all times. I just like to have them fit correctly and stay as clean and white as possible.
**Please note: This information has not been reviewed by the LDS Church for accuracy. The advice written here is based on my own experiences and information gleaned from staff at a local LDS Distribution Center. I include links to care instructions provided by the LDS Church.
**This article was initially written in 2015 for my previous blog, My Random Sampler. I have removed it from that site and saved it here. It was by far my most popular post, so I feel it’s worth sharing again. It’s now July 5, 2017, and I just received notice that garment fabrics and styles will be changing October 2017. Here’s a link for the information available so far. I will update this article when I know more. Thanks!