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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

30 Things About Me

By Dr. Laundry January 27, 2012

We all know I enjoy sharing my knowledge about spills, stains, and cleaning with you all, to help keep your laundry looking its best. Recently, I noticed that many people are sharing more about themselves on Twitter using #30ThingsAboutMe, and thought this would be a great opportunity to share more with my favorite readers.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to give my readers a better idea of who I am, beyond my role as a laundry expert –and to learn a little more about each of you behind the computer! Take a look at my list of 30 “fun facts” that may surprise you (yes, meeting your husband on a train can happen in real life, not just romantic comedies) and some that may not (I often volunteer to do my friends’ laundry for them).

I had a lot of fun making my list – it brings back great memories and reminds me that there’s always something interesting to learn about everyone. Without further ado, here it goes…

30 Things About Mary Gagliardi a.k.a. Dr. Laundry:


  1. I have hiked to the top of Half Dome – twice.  Ascending the cables to the summit is heart stopping, and the view is absolutely amazing.

  2. Curled up by the fire with a good book is my favorite way to spend a rainy day.

  3. There are lots of great books out there, and no matter how many new ones I read, one remains my favorite year after year: Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.

  4. I met my husband while traveling on an Amtrak train from Boston to NYC.  He was on his way to Connecticut—just enough time for us to sit next to each other and begin a conversation that we are still having.  We’ve been married for almost 20 years now!

  5. I’m a native to the San Francisco Bay Area.

  6. My first job was at the Sonoma County Fair selling pan-fried chicken.  The fair still happens every summer and is worth checking out.  Horse racing, exhibit halls (I still have my blue ribbon for a blouse I sewed), 4H livestock auctions, a midway carnival—they’ve got it all (Except for the pan fried chicken booth. I haven’t seen that in years).

  7. I learned how to drive in a 1972 Cadillac Coupe DeVille (blue with a white top) and so yes, I can parallel park any car anywhere.

  8. I love to go fishing.  I caught my first fish, a rainbow trout, in the South Fork of the Eel River using a gold 501 Super-Duper lure when I was 6 years old.  And there’s nothing better than freshly caught fish rolled in Bisquik and fried in bacon fryings—what an indulgence.

  9. I can drive a boat.  A small 8 horsepower boat for fishing on Lake George in the Eastern Sierra, and I promise not to get too close to any of the people floating around in tubes (and no apologies for catching more fish than they do!).


10.  We are a one car family that uses our bicycles to get to as many places as we can that we would otherwise travel to by car, including car-free vacations by train.  Good for the environment and great exercise!

11.  In college I was president of my sorority, which was a new chapter colonized by Alpha Chi Omega on the UC Davis campus.  Not only does this mean that I can (still) run down a flight of stairs while singing, smiling, and clapping, all without falling–my mother (also an Alpha Chi Omega) is my sister, too!

12.  I love roller coasters.  The Big Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the gold standard—a wooden roller coaster that’s over 100 years old, and if you get lucky and get to ride in the first car, it’s such a thrill.

13.  My kids attend public school, which means I am a very busy PTA volunteer.  My newest assignment is to help implement taking all of next year’s 6th graders to Yosemite for 3 days of science fieldwork with Naturebridge.

14.  My favorite textile fiber is…wool (I’ve forgiven it for not being bleachable).  What’s not to like about a fiber that’s exothermic (gives off heat) when it absorbs water?  That’s why your wool hiking socks seem warmer when they first get wet—they actually are!

15.  One textile fiber I wish everyone knew is bleachable is…polyester.  Why so many people think this hydrophobic (water hating) fiber that typically has its colorant locked into the liquid polymer before the fiber is even extruded would be damaged by a bleach and water solution just makes me shake my head.

16.  Strapping a pack weighing 35 pounds onto my back and hiking for several miles into the wilderness is my idea of a great time.  I’m really just rediscovering backpacking now that my kids are old enough to go, too.  And what a great excuse to use an overnight pre-soak with Clorox2® to get all their hiking clothes clean again when we get home!

17.  I’ve backpacked around France, Italy, and Switzerland (getting between countries by train, of course)—while 5 months pregnant.  Maybe that explains why my daughter likes to backpack, too.

18.  I’m an obsessive sorter.  Not only do I sort lights, darks, and whites, I also sort out items for separate red loads.  That the soccer uniforms for our league are red helps make it easy to add other items to make a full load, which also means fewer opportunities for dye transfer!

19.  Skiing is my favorite winter sport, and nothing is more spectacular than the view of Lake Tahoe from the chair lift with glistening fresh powder below.  Of course I like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, too—any excuse to get out in the snow!

20.  When my family goes to Tahoe, we always try to stay at the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge.  We like the massive fire place in the great hall, and since the meals are served family style, we always meet new people—and I often get to share laundry tips!

21.  I have a dog—a wonderful yellow lab-mix named Bella whom we adopted 4 years ago from the Humane Society.  She’s ten now, and slowing down a little, but she is such a good companion the way she follows me around the house, always trying to flop down near my feet.  And for her it’s nothing but the best—I only bleach her doggy blankets and bedding with Clorox® Regular-Bleach!

22.  My favorite food that I am learning to prepare at home is paella—after tasting some at a local street food festival, I wanted to give it a try.  It helps that in the Bay Area you don’t have to go too far to find just about any spice used in any type of ethnic food.  The best place to find the supplies for authentic paella is The Spanish Table in Berkeley.  And my favorite way to get out paella stains (think saffron and paprika) is by pre-treating with a little liquid Clorox2®.

23.  I remodeled my kitchen (OK, my husband helped, too).  To do this, I started with a kitchen design class and a remodeling class from the Berkeley Building Education Center, and using what I learned, actually pulled off a huge remodel.  From tear down to painting, I did (almost) everything, including obtaining permits; designing the layout, door and windows, cabinets, countertop layout, and electrical plan; installing the framing, duct work, hardwood floor, and tile backsplash; and painting the walls and cabinets.  We were lucky to have contractor friends help out along the way, and one of these days we’ll have to finish the few loose ends that most home improvement projects have…

24.  Every year I like to learn to do at least one new thing—last year it was how to build dry-laid rock retaining walls.  This year, maybe it will be how to finish one home improvement project before starting a new one!

25.  I like to wash my friends’ laundry—actually what I really like to do is experiment with it.  When I noticed how dirty one friend’s son’s baseball pants would get after just one game (Frankie likes to slide), I asked her if she’d let me see if I could keep them clean all season long.  She was more than happy to hand that one off, and this soccer mom learned just how hard it is to keep the knees on baseball pants white.  Thankfully I had a lot of dry Clorox2® on hand for overnight pre-soaking!

26.  I’m in a small group with 8 amazing women from my church, First Covenant.  We meet every other week to laugh together, encourage one another and build each other up, and be grateful for the connection we have.

27.  I still get a paper copy of the newspaper, every day.  Sure, the e-versions are convenient, but I don’t want to give up the coffee and paper routine I enjoy so much every morning—not to mention filling in the crossword puzzle with a pen!

28.  My favorite kitchen accessory that I can’t live without is a milk frother.  Yes, we are saving for college one homemade latte at a time!

29.  My family motto:  If you’re not getting dirty, you’re not having fun.

30.  My pet peeve:  people who say “well, it’s OK for you to let your kids get dirty because you can get their clothes clean” just because I work for Clorox.  Hey—I buy my cleaning products at the grocery store just like everybody else.  Washing whites with Clorox® Regular-Bleach in hot water isn’t a trade secret, and anyone can have socks as white as mine!

So, do we have any of these #30ThingsAboutMe in common? Let’s get to know each other better in 2012! Help me continue the conversation, and get to know you by sharing one of your own facts from your #30ThingsAboutMe list below. What’s your story?