Texas Living

Master This Laundry List

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 8.28.17

Laundry may always be a chore; but there are plenty of ways to make the chore simpler, snappier, and, well, snugglier.

Work your way up to all four levels of mastering laundry and you’ll find it’s a breeze. 

Level One: Sorting It Out

This may be news to the collegiate-age launderers out there, but there’s more than one way to sort laundry. Of course, there’s always the option of not sorting at all. But here are a few methods to consider: 

  • Sort by color (darks, whites, lights).
  • Sort by fabric weight (heavy cottons, thin cottons, denim, and delicates).
  • Sort by stains (make a pile of pieces that need special attention).
  • Separate towels and sheets.
  • Or just wash it all in cold water to avoid sorting! 

Level Two: Love Your Machine 

Not all machines are created equal, just as not all launderers know which is the right detergent and how to catch stubborn lint. Here are a few standbys for washer-and-dryer owners to be aware of:

  • Check the instructions. New, high-efficiency washers work differently than older models and require less detergent. The instructions will tell you all the ins and outs of caring for your machine and your clothing.
  • Check for mildew. Popular front loaders may have mildew issues on the rubber seal around the door that require cleaning periodically.
  • Find the right detergent. Some washing machines are particular about what type of detergent you use. Find one that makes you both happy! 
  • Vacuum up stubborn lint. Clogged lint screens decrease the efficiency of your dryer and can even pose a fire hazard, so make sure you’re cleaning the lint trap every time you remove a load. For particularly stubborn lint built up below the screen, you can use the thin nozzle on your vacuum cleaner to suck it up. That’s a tip straight from the U.S. Department of Energy — genius!

Level Three: Tricks of the Trade 

Anyone can press “start” on their machine, but are you getting your clothes to their softest, shapeliest, shock-free selves when you wash them? Here’s how:

  • Always read the label. When the manufacturer says to wash an item in cold water, there’s always a reason. And noticing the “dry clean only” and “lay flat to dry” tags will save you from shrinking or stretching your favorite new top. There’s nothing worse than pulling out a sweater and realizing it would fit better on an American Girl doll. 
  • Save your socks from a lifetime of loneliness. Pin pairs of socks together before washing and drying. Never again lose your mind trying to match them.
  • Fold clothes immediately. Save ironing time by hanging and folding clothes right as they come out of the dryer. Having hangers handy makes the task more likely to get done.
  • Skip liquid softener on towels. The fibers become coated with liquid softener in the wash and can lose their softness. Try dryer sheets instead.
  • Add vinegar. Pour in 1 cup of household vinegar during the rinse cycle for softer, snugglier clothes.
  • Crumple up aluminum foil. Throw 3-inch-wide balls of aluminum foil into your dryer to reduce static cling. The metal attracts the electrons in clothing that help create electric charge (and shock you when you try to take out your clothes!). Science! 

Level Four: Master Stain Removal

This is the final test: getting out stubborn stains that for lesser launderers would mean simply throwing away the beloved, ruined piece of clothing. Try these tips:

  • Keep Clorox’s guide on hand. It covers solutions for the most common stain emergencies
  • Use white bread to remove lipstick. How wacky is that? If you cut off the crusts and roll white bread into a ball, then pressing it over a lipstick stain, the stain will transfer onto the bread.
  • Or, spray hairspray. Then pull the stain up with tape. Chalk and baby powder can also help remove oil-based lipsticks.
  • Bleach away grass stains. Mix 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of bleach and 3/4 cups of water. Massage the mixture directly into the stained area and let it sit for 30–60 minutes, then rinse the garment thoroughly before washing it as normal.

Go forth and launder! Meanwhile, you can find out how to safely store your clothes here

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