Monthly Archives: February 2014

Which men’s dress shirts are really wrinkle-free and require no ironing?

I admit it: I hate ironing. I’m not that good at it, and it’s a time-consuming chore that I seem to keep procrastinating about. For this reason, I try to avoid buying clothing that requires ironing.

Since my husband wears dress shirts to work everyday, his attire could quickly add up to a lot of ironing if not carefully selected. Therefore, I try to make sure any new dress shirt he purchases or receives as a gift is a “no-iron” shirt. Many manufacturers label their shirts in this way, but “wrinkle-free” shirts are definitely not created equal. Based on my experience in the laundry room, here are the best wrinkle-free shirts, along with others that don’t live up to the “no-iron” promise.

Best wrinkle-free, non-iron dress shirts

  1. Croft and Barrow “non-iron” dress shirt: Look for the words “non-iron” in the shirt’s tag, along with 100 percent cotton construction. This shirt looks great out of the dryer. We currently own only one, but it has performed well. These typically retail for around $35.
  2. Stafford Performance Super Shirt: This has been the go-to dress shirt brand in our home for several years, and we own several. When they are on sale, you can get one for around $24. These are 55 percent cotton and 45 percent polyester. There are several varieties of Stafford dress shirts; look for “super shirt” on the label.
  3. Staff0rd Signature non-iron dress shirt: We recently took a chance on this product in the Stafford line, and it paid off. This shirt is 100 percent cotton, which some buyers may prefer over the construction of the super shirt. It feels a bit more substantial than the super shirt, but it doesn’t require ironing, either. You can get this one on sale for about $30.
  4. Van Heusen Lux Sateen shirt: There are a variety of Van Heusen shirts; this is the only one I can vouch for as living up to the “wrinkle-free” label. It is 55 percent cotton and 45 percent polyester. These range from $20 to $25 online.
  5. Arrow Premium Collection shirt: I had trouble finding a link to these online, but snatch one up if you find it in a store. This shirt has a nice weight to it and looks great coming out of the dryer. It is 100 percent cotton.

Shirts that don’t measure up

  1. Chaps classic fit shirt: We recently tried some Chaps dress shirts because they offered more patterns and colors than the brands listed above. While they say “wrinkle-free” in the label, these are not no iron-shirts. Technically, they can come out of the dryer with no wrinkles, but the fabric is not smooth and crisp enough to avoid ironing. These are 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester. On sale at Kohl’s, they cost about $27.
  2. Van Heusen poplin wrinkle-free shirt: It may have been better for the manufacturer to label this one “wrinkle-resistant. You will not want to wear it in public without ironing it first. I won’t buy this one again. These shirts are 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton. They retail for about $25.
  3. Arrow Classic Fit wrinkle-free shirt: With 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton, you would think this (like the Van Heusen shirt above) would come out of the dryer read to wear. Unfortunately, this one requires ironing, too. Also, it is a bit thinner than the Arrow premium shirt I recommended above. There are other Arrow shirts with “classic fit” in the name that have a different fabric blend; those I have not tried. This one was on clearance at Kohl’s for $18 in February 2014.

No dress shirt will ever look as good out of the dryer as one that you’ve had pressed professionally or that you’ve ironed yourself, but the options above are the best I’ve found to-date. I’ve also found that minimizing the amount of other laundry that is in the dryer with the dress shirts reduces wrinkles. For example, I no longer dryer heavier fabrics or a lot of other clothes with my dress shirts. Use caution, however, when using dryer sheets with small loads of dress shirts, as they can leave oily looking stains on the fabrics that are difficult to remove. I recently started using laundry balls as an alternative. You could also try using just 1/4 of a dryer sheet.

I’ve given you my opinions, but I would love to learn from you: what is your go-to make and model for wrinkle-free dress shirts, and which ones do you avoid? What laundry secrets have you discovered to minimize wrinkles in this type of clothing?

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Drug lockbox: a convenient way to keep medications out of children’s reach

My husband and I are licensed foster parents, and one of the safety requirements we must meet is that all of our prescription and over-the counter medications must be kept locked up at all times, along with all of our vitamins. So, we can’t keep medications in an unlocked kitchen cabinet, in a dresser drawer or even on a high shelf.  We tried keeping them in a locked linen closet, but this proved inconvenient, so I set out in search of a better solution.

Finding a medication lock box on the Internet sounds simple enough, but I struggled to find a solution that met our family’s criteria. I wanted something large enough to keep all our medications and vitamins in one place, but I didn’t want to spend more than $30 on it. I found locking personal safes, train cases for makeup and cash boxes, among other potential solutions. Then, I discovered the LockMed website.

LockMed offers several types of medication lockboxes, as well as locking bags suitable for securing your medication while traveling. I debated between the medium-sized drug box and the large one, which comes in two varieties: one with a combination lock and one with a key lock. At $24.99, the large Lockmed box was only $2 more than the medium one, so I chose the bigger size. Shipping was a bit steep at $8.50, pushing my purchase a bit over my $30 goal.

LockMed shipped my medication storage box quickly. It arrived promptly and was well-packaged. I was pleasantly surprised at how well-made it is. I felt like I took a risk ordering from a company I had never heard of, so I was relieved that the product was what I expected. It has a sturdy metal exterior that is easy to wipe clean, and a nice velvet interior to keep medications from sliding around.

Warning: As the LockMed website notes, this is not an indestructable box. Someone determined to access your medications could probably find a way to break into it or any similar box. I will be using the box with infants and toddlers and storing it out of their reach; so, it is a suitable solution for me.  If you are worried about medication theft by older children or adults, you may wish to consider other solutions and read LockMed’s tips for keeping your medications safe.

LockMed is not the only medication lockbox on the market. After my initial search, I discovered additional products online. Amazon offers a medication case for $24.95 with free shipping, but it is considerably smaller than the LockMed box. A larger box sold on Amazon costs more than the one I bought from LockMed and is still smaller than mine. Another website offers a small box for just $8, but charges $13 to ship it, making it a poor value. Sears sells a medication wall safe that may offer more security than any of these lockboxes, but it only holds seven bottles up to 4 inches tall, and it costs $60.

In the end, there may be no solution that keeps a determined thief from accessing your medications. For me, the LockMed box offers an affordable solution for a home with young children, since it will be stored out of their reach.

How do you keep your medications secure?

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Getting the most out of online product reviews

When you’re shopping for a particular item, online reviews can be a valuable tool in helping you select the best brand or model, even if you’re going to buy it in a local store instead of on the Web. However, not all reviews are created equal, and a product’s overall star rating may not tell the whole story. Consider these tips to help you weigh reviews appropriately.

Look for reviews from verified purchasers. Many websites allow anyone to post a review, whether they bought the product from that website or not. The danger with this is that there are some people who get paid to post positive or negative reviews on behalf of certain companies. By seeking out verified reviews, you can be sure the person praising or criticizing a product actually bought it. For example, on the Best Buy website, look for the “verified purchaser” graphic beside a review. You’ll see the term “Amazon verified purchase” on Amazon’s website. Photo and video store B&H uses a “verified buyer” graphic.

Sort the reviews by newest first. Some websites, like Amazon, feature at the top of a product page the reviews that have received the most “votes” for being helpful. In some cases, these reviews may be several years old. Look for a tool that allows you to sort reviews to show the newest ones first, and start reading there. Why? Product suppliers and manufacturing processes may change over time, so a product everyone loved a few years ago may be going downhill today.

Read more than one page of reviews. If this is a product you will be spending a considerable amount of money on, you want to make a wise decision. I recommend reading at least 25 reviews total from at least three websites to make sure you are gathering enough data on the product. This can be especially important if the sites you visit do not have verified reviews. If you have a limited amount of time, read mainly negative reviews to identify the potential downsides of the product.

Look for trends across websites. Even in the positive reviews, you may find some negative comments. If you see the same comment repeatedly, this can alert you to a potential flaw in the product. Assume what the reviewers are saying is true, and ask yourself if you can live with the flaw.

I’m convinced online reviews have saved me hundreds of dollars and many headaches by steering me away from products that looked great but weren’t. Which website do you find has the most helpful reviews?

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