10 Secret Laundry Tips

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Even if you have been doing laundry for years, there are always tips you can learn to make it easier, faster and more effective. You probably know not to wash that new red tee shirt with your favorite white jeans, but did you know that salt could brighten your clothes? Read on for some simple ways to take the drudgery out of laundry day.

Vinegar is Your Friend in the Laundry Room

Plain white vinegar is a great addition to your wash. Just add ½ cup for a small load, 1 cup to a large load, pouring the vinegar into the final rinse water. Distilled white vinegar helps keep your dark clothes from fading, softens fabrics, brightens whites, helps remove soap residue from your clothes and washing machine, and removes static cling.

Distilled white vinegar is also effective at removing underarm yellowing and odor on your shirts. Fill a mister bottle with vinegar, and spray it onto the underarm and neck area of the shirt before tossing into the washing machine.

Check for Stains Before Putting Wet Clothes in the Dryer

If you are concerned about a stained article of clothing, check it over when taking it out of the wash. If the stain remains, don’t put the clothing into the dryer. The stain will become much harder to remove if it’s set by the dryer’s heat. If your favorite shirt does run through the dryer with a stain, you can try soaking the shirt in a 50/50 mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes, then wash the shirt again.

Load Your Machine Properly

Don’t overstuff the washing machine just to cut down on how many loads of laundry you need to do. With no room to toss and turn, clothing doesn’t get as clean in a too-full machine, and the additional friction is hard on fabric fibers, wearing out your clothes and increasing fading.

Don’t Forget to Wash Your Bedding

People often neglect to wash their sheets, blankets, comforters and pillowcases on a regular basis. Linens collect body oils, dirt, hair product residue and sweat, as well as gathering dust mites. Your sheets and pillowcases should be washed weekly in hot water, and blankets, comforters or bedspreads should be washed at least once per month. If you use a dust ruffle and decorative shams, wash those at least twice per year. If your pets love to join you in bed, wash all your bedding more frequently.

Use Salt for Brighter Colors

If you live in an area with hard water, your clothes will tend to become dull over time. Minerals build up on the clothing fibers, making colors look dingy. Add a pinch of table salt to your laundry detergent, letting it dissolve in the washing machine water before adding your clothes. The salt will combat the hard water buildup, giving you brighter clothes.

Don’t Shrink Your New Skirt

If you are concerned about a favorite item of clothing shrinking in the wash, dry it on a low or medium heat, and remove from the dryer when it is still slightly damp. Hang it up to finish drying. It’s the last part of the drying cycle that tends to shrink your clothes the most, so removing items early will prevent the dreaded discovery that your new skirt is now small enough to fit your toddler daughter.

Pretreat Stains Right Away

The sooner you treat a stain, the likelier you are to remove it. You can find stain remover in convenient wipes and pen form, making it easy to carry in your car or purse. For an effective homemade stain remover, mix one part original blue Dawn dishwashing soap with two parts hydrogen peroxide, and apply to the stain. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes, then run through the regular wash cycle.

Speed Up the Drying Cycle

Toss a dry towel into the dryer with your wet clothes. As the laundry tumbles, the towel will absorb moisture from the clothes, speeding up the drying process and cutting down on the wear and tear on your clothing. You’ll be able to take your clothes out sooner, and the towel will be dry by then also.

Put the Detergent in First

Always add the laundry detergent to the machine first, let the water start to fill the machine for a few minutes, then add your clothing on top. Pouring liquid laundry detergent over your clothes can leave stains or spots, and powdered detergent can form clumps.

Baking Soda to the Rescue

If you have laundry that is really stinky, add ½ cup of baking soda to the rinse water. Baking soda is great for removing cigarette smoke, campfire smell, body odor or other unpleasant scents you don’t want on your clothes. Baking soda also helps brighten and soften clothing, and helps remove old stains.

Laundry might not ever be your favorite way to spend time, but it doesn’t need to be complete drudgery. Now if you could just get your kids to put away their clean, folded clothes, and put their dirty items in the hamper, laundry day wouldn’t be bad at all.

Last Updated: June 24, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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