Liquid Softener vs. Dryer Sheets

Are you perplexed as to which fabric softener you should use? Both fabric softeners and dryer sheets indeed make your clothes feel softer and smell better, and they do reduce wrinkles too — especially if you line dry your clothes. However, there are a number of misconceptions about these 2 popular laundry aids.  Below are a few of the more popular myths.

Myth #1:  fabric softeners and dryer sheets shouldn’t be used with microfiber towels. This is true.

Liquid fabric softeners as well as dryer sheets will significantly damage the fibers in microfiber. Microfiber towels should not be subjected to heat at all. Not only are dryer sheets a problem, but the heat itself can wreak havoc on your microfiber towels. If you must dry them quickly, then choose a low or no-heat option.

Myth #2:  Fabric softener and dryer sheets shouldn’t be used with athletic sportswear, spandex & nylon garments. This is true.

Fabric softener can reduce the ability of certain fabrics to manage moisture and breathe — including sportswear, swimsuits, undergarments, and athletic gear with wicking properties intended to keep you dry and cool.The waxy softening agents in fabric softeners interfere with the garment’s ability to wick away moisture to keep you cool & dry, so you should avoid using softeners with most sportswear.

Myth #3: Fabric softeners won’t stain your clothes. This is false.

Most fabric softeners state right on the bottle that you shouldn’t pour fabric softener directly on your clothes.When liquid fabric softener is used on certain fabrics (or fabric blends), oily looking spots or discoloration can result. A fabric softener stain looks blue-gray and greasy.

Both fabric softeners and dryer sheets help eliminate static and wrinkles while making clothes feel softer and smell better. Keep in mind that if you are not using a dispenser or a softener ball, make sure to add liquid softener during the final rinse when the tub is full of water to avoid staining.

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Detergent Overload

Most people use far more detergent than they actually need to. Liquid, pods, powders – It’s no wonder there’s so much confusion about how to use laundry detergent correctly!  Knowing how much detergent to use can extend the life of your clothes and help conserve money by saving on the expense of detergent.

There are several factors to consider when it comes to using laundry detergent properly. First, determine what kind of detergent is best for you. Liquid detergents are easy to pour and work great for spot-cleaning grease stains and ground-in dirt. While powder detergents are good for consistent cleaning overall, too much powder can leave a milky residue on your clothes if not measured properly.  The popular pod takes the guesswork out of measuring out your detergent.  Be sure to never use regular detergent in high-efficiency (HE) washers. This will create far too many suds and can damage the washer’s mechanics over time.

Second, consider load size. Most detergent measuring caps or instructions should state the ideal amount of detergent to use for certain load sizes. Here’s a quick way to determine the load size: if the machine’s drum looks one-quarter full once all the clothes are inside, then that’s a small load. If it looks about half-full, it’s a medium load, and if it’s close to full, it’s a full load. Do not overload your washer—cramming in too many clothes won’t allow the detergent to distribute evenly, which can cause wrinkled, less-than-clean clothes.

Finally, be careful when measuring out your laundry detergent. Using too much detergent won’t make your clothes cleaner—in fact, it will leave a residue on your clothes that can make them break down that much faster and too many suds will not allow an adequate amount of water to fill the machine.  This is due to a water level sensor. Also, detergents today tend to be much more concentrated than they were in the past, so be sure to carefully check the recommended amounts on the detergent packaging and double-check the cap’s measuring lines before you pour.

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Always Wash New Clothes

There are three good reasons to wash new clothes, especially those that are worn in direct contact with your skin, before you wear them.

  • One is to wash out extra dye that can be transferred to your skin or other garments. Most fabric made from synthetic fibers (polyester, acrylic) are colored with azo-aniline dyes. These dyes can cause severe skin reactions for those who are allergic to them. If the allergy is severe, the rash will be similar to poison ivy. But even less severe reactions can cause dry, itchy inflamed patches of skin.
  • It is possible to transfer lice, scabies, bacteria and fungus from person to person when clothes are tried on. Dressing rooms can become breeding grounds for everything from viruses to athlete’s foot.
  • And, most importantly, to remove the chemical finishes that manufacturers put on clothes to enhance color or texture. The finishes won’t bother everyone, but if you have sensitive skin you can develop a rash especially in constant contact areas like armpits, collars, cuffs and trouser waists and thighs.

Urea formaldehyde is often the chemical used to prevent mildew on clothes that have to be shipped long distances in hot, humid containers from overseas to the United States. It has a very strong odor that will remain in the fabric until the garment is washed. One washing will not remove formaldehyde completely but you will reduce the build up significantly and it will continue to be removed with each wash.

It is especially important that children’s clothing, especially clothes for babies, be washed before they are worn. Babies are particularly sensitive to chemicals and skin rashes can occur. Select a detergent that is fragrance free and dye free as these can also cause skin reactions. Washing the clothes for children will also make them softer and more comfortable for them to wear.

Washing new sheets/blankets and towels is also important to remove chemicals since these come in direct contact with skin. Washing will also improve the absorbency of the fabric by removing surface fiber coatings.

If you have a tag on the garment that reads “wash separately before wearing”, beware of dye transfer and color bleeding. Washing will help remove the excess dye but check the rinse water. If color remains in the water, it make take several wash cycles to get rid of the excess dye so continue to wash separately or with similar colors.

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Prevent Colors from Fading

 

The best way to keep colors from fading is to wash your clothes as little and as gently as possible. Water, the friction from agitation, detergent, and drying all contribute to pulling out the bright colors from your clothing. Hand-washing and line-drying aren’t practical, so you need to learn how to wash clothes in the machine to minimize color fading.

Wash Dark Colors Together

Anyone who has ever washed one red sock with an entire load of whites knows the pain that can happen when colors fade away. To prevent dark colors from fading, keep like colors together.

Turn Clothes Inside Out

Some of the wear and tear that happens on your garments can be prevented by turning them inside out before washing and drying. Washing and drying clothing is rough on the outside of your clothing. Turning garments inside out reduces pilling, which dulls the look of the fabric. It’s even more important to turn clothing inside out when you hang clothes outside to dry. While the sun is an excellent and efficient drying tool, it will take the colors right out of your clothing.

Read the Care Label

It takes only a few seconds, but reading the care labels may save a lot of heartaches when your clothes come out of the wash. Check for instructions, which might say to wash only in cold water, or with like colors. Don’t forget to check for drying instructions as well. The label may indicate that the clothing needs to be dried on low, or drip-dried.

Don’t Stuff the Washer (and Dryer!)

Stuffing the washer to capacity is tempting, but it comes with several negatives. It makes the machine work harder, and it is tougher on your clothes. The detergent and rinse water aren’t distributed properly, and clothing doesn’t come out as clean when it is packed into a washing machine. Similarly, clothing takes a lot longer to dry when a dryer is stuffed. Let the items move freely by leaving a bit of room.

Wash in Cold

One of the best pieces of laundry advice is to wash colors in cold. Detergents have come a long way in recent years, and most perform just as well in cold water as they do in hot or warm water.

Don’t Over-dry

It’s easy to let clothing over-dry. While this is bad for all laundry, it is particularly bad for bright and dark colors. Over-drying will cause your colors to fade. Clothes should be slightly damp when they are pulled from the dryer. Since drying adds heat and friction to the equation, it’s even better to line-dry clothes to retain colors. Again – just remember to turn colored items inside out to prevent fading from the sun.

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