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Cleaning Stuffed Animals

Did you know it’s perfectly safe to throw most stuffed animals in the washing machine? On gentle cycle using warm or cold water, a washing machine will get your stuffed animals clean without ruining them.

Most care labels instruct to hand wash, but after raising two kids and needing to deep clean their beloved friends, I tried machine washing.  Set the washing machine  to the delicate cycle, apply  some Spray N’ Wash, Mean Green, or your choice of stain remover if needed,  scrub a little, and wash. Afterwards hang them up to dry. I learned the hard way that throwing them in the dryer can melt the fake fur on some of them.  Poor Simba from the Lion King had a melted mane!

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING IF YOUR STUFFED ANIMALS CAN BE WASHED IN THE WASHING MACHINE:

  • The care label – if it can be hand washed, it can likely withstand the delicate cycle in the washing machine. Your washing machine may even have a hand wash cycle.
  • Material – Take notice of the care label and use your sense of touch as well as sight to thoroughly examine all parts of the stuffed animal to be washed. Polyester and acetate (a form of cotton) are fine to wash. The stuffed animals I washed have plastic pellets and were fine, but you wouldn’t want to machine wash something with foam balls such as Beanie Babies. Be cautious of delicate clothing items and things that are glued on, they may not survive!
  • Age – The older it is, the more fragile it will be.

 

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Remove Embarrassing Underarm Stains

Stains occur when the aluminum in your antiperspirant or deodorant combines with the salt in your sweat. The stains are notoriously difficult to get rid of with normal washing in the laundry machine. We recommend doing a pre-test on a small area before trying.

Method #1

You will need:

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush

Apply the ingredients directly to the shirt, use an old toothbrush to work them in for a minute, and then let the shirt sit for at least an hour before putting it in the washing machine.

Method #2

You will need:

  • OxiClean
  • Toothbrush

Fill up a sink with warm water and mix it with one scoop of OxiClean.  Place your shirt in the sink, making sure the yellow stains are completely submerged. For mild stains, just let the shirt sit for an hour. For more stubborn stains, rub a thick mixture of OxiClean and water on the stain, and let the shirt sit overnight before putting it in the diluted mixture.  After you’re done soaking the shirt, scrub the stain with the toothbrush, then rinse and launder as usual.

To prevent the stains in the first place, Degree deodorant says it helps to wear loose clothing, make sure your antiperspirant deodorant is dry before you get dressed and don’t use too much product.

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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.

Read More 6 Ways to Cut Down Energy Costs In The Summer

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.

Read More 6 Ways to Cut Down Energy Costs In The Summer

Laundry Myths – Debunked

Some laundry tips are nothing more than old wives’ tales and are simply a waste of time and money. Below are a few laundry myths debunked with some real information you can use that will make laundry easier. 

Hair Spray To Remove Ink

The idea of using hair spray to remove ink from laundry began in the 50s and was actually a valid tip back then. It was the alcohol in hair spray that worked on the ink stain. However, today’s hair sprays are different from those aerosols of the 50’s. Today, most hair sprays don’t even contain alcohol and can actually cause stains themselves or set the ink in.

Begin by wetting a cotton swab with isopropyl or rubbing alcohol ( test the fabric to be sure the alcohol does not damage or discolor the material). Start by working from the outside of the stain to the inside, dab the spot with the swab. Change to a new swab as ink is absorbed to keep from redistributing the ink.

If traces of the ink remain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours, then check the stain.

If it’s gone, wash as usual as directed on the label. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stain but it should come out.

Use More Detergent To Get Cleaner Clothes

More is not better when it comes to laundry detergent.  Most of us, at some time or another, are guilty of using too much detergent.  This creates excess suds that actually redeposit soil onto our clothing. 

We recommend using half as much detergent as recommended and see if you are pleased with the results. You can always add more but you can’t take it out. Most detergents these days are highly concentrated and don’t require as much as in the past.

Hot Water Kills All Laundry Germs

Unfortunately, using hot water alone for laundry does not kill all germs and bacteria. Washing clothing or linens of someone who is ill can spread the germs throughout the entire washer whether you use hot or cold water. Only a disinfectant like bleach, pine oil or a phenolic disinfectant (Lysol) will sanitize the laundry and the washer.

The Sock Monster

Most missing socks are not eaten by a monster in your washer or dryer or even trapped in the machine. (You would know if a sock got into the motor of either one pretty quickly.)

Most socks disappear between leaving the foot and the clothes hamper or the clothes hamper and the machine. Check behind your washer and dryer for a stash of socks that have fallen, or check the inside of pant legs for those secret clingers due to static.

Keep a basket or bin or mesh bag in the laundry room or near your clothes hamper for all those extra socks. Once a month go through and sort and match or just buy one kind of sock so they all match!

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Laundry Tips & Tricks Your Mom Never Taught You

Ok, so maybe your Mom did tell you about  these tips and tricks, but in case she didn’t, we’re here to help you out.  Sometimes there are just some laundry care tips that don’t fit into any particular category. You’ll be surprised after you read through these when they just might come in handy.

  • Before you wear a new garment, put a little dot of clear nail polish on the front and back threads of each button. Buttons will stay on longer when the threads are sealed.
  • Zippers won’t stick if you rub them with the edge of a bar of soap.
  • To remove a hem crease, sponge the line on the fabric with a clean white cloth dipped in distilled white vinegar and then press with a warm iron from the wrong side of the garment.
  • When washing clothes, add detergent to the washer first. Pouring detergent on clothing can leave streaks and even cause fabrics to fade.
  • Avoid getting perfume, aftershave or hair spray on leather because the alcohol may ruin the finish and color.
  • Wash nylon clothing every time after wearing. Nylon is very hard to clean once it becomes heavily soiled. Treat any oily stains immediately after they happen with warm or hot water to prevent them from becoming permanent..
  • NEVER use an acetone-based nail polish remover on garments to remove stains! The acetone will dissolve the fabric!
  • Knit garments should always be folded to store on a shelf or in a drawer. Hanging knits can cause them to stretch completely out of shape.
  • Turn all clothes inside out before washing to prevent fading and keep the right side looking like new.
  • If you don’t have a mesh laundry bag for washing your delicate fabrics, place them in a pillowcase and fasten the loose end with a plastic bag tie or shoelace before tossing it in the washer.
  • To reduce wrinkles, wet a hand towel with water, wring out the excess water and toss in the dryer with wrinkled items. Dry on high for about five minutes. Remove the clothes while still damp and hang to dry.
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How to Wash Hats Without Ruining the Shape

 

There comes a time when your favorite hat needs a good cleaning. But before you start, take time to look at the little tag on the inside to get an idea of the fiber content and the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Of course, your tag may be gone or unreadable so, we’ll cover instructions for safe cleaning of almost any type of baseball cap.

Newer baseball hats are often made of cotton twill, cotton polyester blends or jersey mesh. These fabrics are strong and durable and usually colorfast. New hats use a plastic form to shape the brim, not cardboard. These plastic forms can withstand a wash without becoming deformed.

To clean, pre-treat exceptionally dirty areas like sweatbands with a solvent-based spray or gel like Shout or Spray ‘n Wash or a bit of heavy duty laundry detergent like Persil or Tide. These detergents have enough enzymes to break apart body soil and oil grime. Wash the hat with the rest of similarly colored clothing on the delicate cycle using cool water. Do not use bleach. If you are very concerned with protecting the shape of the hat, you can use a specially designed hat form and toss it in the washer.

Allow the hat to dry in the form or over a large coffee can or other head-shaped container. Do not put baseball hats in the dryer because excessive heat and tumbling action can distort the hat’s shape.

If the hat has a cardboard or paper filled bill, you will have to do spot-cleaning only. Use a soft-bristled brush and scrub the stained areas with a heavy-duty detergent/water mixture. Do not over wet the area. Blot with a clean white cloth dipped in water. Allow to air dry. You may need to repeat the steps several times.

You’ve probably heard of washing hats in the dishwasher on the top rack. I wouldn’t recommend this because dishwasher detergents are harsh and often contain bleach that can ruin your hat. Also, the high temperatures aren’t good for the fabric and may cause the hat to shrink.

Cleaning Newer Wool Baseball Hats

Wool baseball hats should be hand washed using cool water and a mild detergent designated for wool. Be gentle and don’t scrub or twist the fibers. Rinse well in cool water and roll gently in a thick towel to absorb most of the moisture. Allow to air dry on a head-shaped object. If you dry your wool hat on your own head, it will dry to the precise shape of your head and cause it to be too tight.

Cleaning Older or Commemorative Baseball Hats

Commemorative hats should always be stored in a covered case to prevent dust and grease from accumulating on the hap. These should only need a light dusting or brushing to keep them at their best. Always store away from direct light and intense heat.

If a deeper cleaning is needed, first do a colorfastness test. Using a white cloth with a bit of mild detergent, gently rub an inconspicuous area of the cap.

If there is color transfer, do not proceed. If it is colorfast, continue using the cloth to clean the entire hat. Do not immerse the hat in water. The bill may be shaped using cardboard that will dissolve. Rinse your cloth in clean water to “rinse” the hat. Air dry on a head-shaped container.

If you have an autograph that you want to preserve, keep the hat in a dark, air conditioned space to prevent fading and mold or mildew from forming. If you want to wear the autographed hat, protect the signature by covering the signed area with a white, pressing cloth and iron the area on high heat.  This will help set the ink.

 

 

Read More 6 Ways to Cut Down Energy Costs In The Summer

Removing Diesel/Gas Stains and Odors

Have you ever been pumping gas and all of a sudden the tank is full and Ooops! the gas splashes out and right on to your clothes? So how do you get that awful odor out? It’s important to know that diesel/gas stains make all fabrics more flammable than normal so it is very important to handle the items carefully.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Gas and diesel stained clothes and rags should not be washed with other clothing. If after washing you can still smell fuel odor, do not place the garments in a clothes dryer. The excessive heat can cause the fabric to burst into flames.

Since gasoline and diesel are petroleum oil-based stains, they need to be pretreated using a solvent based stain removal product, like Shout or Spray ‘n Wash. If you don’t have a solvent-based pre-treater, apply a bit of enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergent, like Tide or Persil to the stain and work it in by gently rubbing with a soft bristle brush. Allow the stain remover to work for at least fifteen minutes before washing.

After pretreatment, wash the garment as usual in the hottest water appropriate for the fabric. Inspect the garment for stains and sniff for odors before drying and repeat treatment if necessary.

If there is still any lingering fuel odors, soak the stained clothes overnight in enough water to completely submerge the fabric with 1 cup baking soda added. Then rewash and rinse as usual.

For exceptionally heavy odors, fill the washer, deep sink or plastic tub with warm water and add 1 cup household ammonia. Shut the lid or cover the solution if possible. Allow the garments to soak for several hours or overnight. Drain the washer and wash as usual.

DO NOT USE ANY CHLORINE BLEACH during the soaking or washing because dangerous fumes can form.

Allowing the clothes to air dry outside will help remove odors as well. Again, if any trace of odor remains, air dry on an indoor rack or outside on a clothesline. Do not put these items in an electric or gas dryer.

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