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How To Clean Your Stinky, Mildew Towels

At some point most of us have used a towel, for whatever reason, and tossed it in to the dirty laundry and forgotten it was wet. A few days later and the smell will remind you! That smell is caused by mildew that sets in, and isn’t very easy to get rid of.  Washing your towels a few times on a normal setting may get rid of the odor, but if that isn’t enough to combat the mildew smell, I’ve found a way to get your towels back in shape and get that unpleasant smell out quickly. Here is how:

  • Place your smelly towels in the washing machine and fill with the hottest water possible. Add in 2 cups of white vinegar and let them soak for at least 30 mins. Do not add any other products (detergent, softener etc.). This will allow the vinegar to penetrate the material without interference.
  • Run a full cycle after your towels have soaked in the vinegar water. Leaving the towels in the washer repeat step 1, only this time use baking soda instead of vinegar. Run a full cycle once again.
  • Dry the towels on hottest setting possible until they are fully dry.

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

Choosing the Correct Water Temperature

Most people think the way to get the job done is to wash everything in a single load with cold water. That way, you get it all done at once, and there’s no color transfer between clothes, but that’s not always the case.  Washing everything together in cold will prevent color transfer, but unfortunately it won’t get everything clean.

When to wash in hot water

Hot wash works well on ground-in and hard-to-remove dirt on sturdy fabrics.

Generally speaking, you should wash white clothes in hot water. Washing colors in hot water is also recommended if the clothes are really dirty or greasy, and they’re made of sturdy, color-fast fabric. (Wash them separately, of course.)

Use it to clean seriously soiled sturdy garments (gardening or children’s clothing), and to regularly disinfect dish towels, washcloths, bath towels, bedding, and pillowcases.

Light and dark fabrics should be separated as hot water may cause these clothes to bleed.

Delicate and coarse or sturdy fabrics should be separated to prevent abrasion and protect clothes from wear and tear.

When to wash in warm water

Warm water (or permanent press wash setting) minimizes color fading and wrinkling. Wash light clothes, as well as regular and sturdy fabrics, towels, jeans, 100 percent man-made fibers, and blends of natural and man-made fibers. It’s also appropriate for moderately dirty clothes that don’t need the extra power of a hot water temperature wash.

When to wash in cold water

Washing clothes with cold water will protect most dark or bright-colored clothing from running and minimizes shrinkage. Use the cold wash cycle for lightly soiled fabrics and clothes with blood, wine or coffee stains, dark or bright colors that may run or fade, delicate fabrics including washable silk, Spandex swimsuits, and active wear; and delicate lingerie. It’s also okay for lightly soiled clothes.

There’s a misconception that washing clothes in cold water won’t get clothes clean. This is because detergent is formulated for, and fully activated in, warm water. Cooler water won’t fully activate detergent, which means you’ll need to use more to make up for the temperature difference to get your cold wash clothes clean. Thankfully there are several brands of detergent that are designed to work in all temperatures. Tide, Arm & Hammer, All, and Wisk are just a few that we recommend.

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

Laundry Tips & Tricks

 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.

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

Always Wash Before You Wear

With the gift giving season upon us we thought we would share this post again.  Surely some of those gifts will be new clothes.  Keep reading to find out why it’s so important to wash before you wear.

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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How to Wash Antique Linens

Some of us are fortunate enough to inherit a little piece of our family history. If we’re lucky, these items will be in good condition, but that’s not always the case. Some items may have dry rot, mouse nibbles and/or rust. You won’t be able to save these things if the fibers are already compromised. If you tug on two sides of a garment and it comes apart without much effort, your item has dry rot and has reached the end. Sometimes, you just have to let go, there’s no way to save it.

To start, here are a few items you should have on hand:
White Vinegar
Rust Remover
Restoration – (Oxyclean is similar, more widely available and slightly less expensive than Restoration, but it doesn’t work as well.)
Bleach pen
Laundry detergent (simple soap, nothing added)

***PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT GUARANTEE ANY METHOD THAT YOU CHOOSE TO TRY. IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE CONDITION OF THE GARMENT.***

“Restoration” and white vinegar are preferred products. Read the label and use common sense. You may only need to use “Restoration” for your initial laundering to remove storage dirt. You can also use “Restoration” in the washing machine with your laundry, too. It removes odors, age spots, storage stains, label stains and often, some rust. If it doesn’t remove the rust, try using “Whink Rust & Stain Remover.” Be aware that if rust has already eaten away the fibers that you may be left with a hole where the rust had been after cleaning with rust/stain remover.

Use “Restoration” first and, if stains remain after two or three sessions with it, put the dampened piece outside in bright sunshine for a day. This is often a magical solution. Horrible stains will usually disappear within an hour. This is the least invasive method. It is effective and it’s free – it also sanitizes. However, sunlight does bleach and weaken fibers over time. Sunlight is destructive so I am not suggesting that you constantly subject your fragile items to sunlight. This method, used once or twice on a piece that would otherwise need to be thrown away, can be very helpful. If the stains persist, you may need to resort to using bleach with laundry detergent. I like to have a bleach pen on hand because it allows me to pinpoint where I apply the bleach. After using bleach, always rinse with white vinegar, then rinse again with clear water.

Step 1. Use hot water with “Restoration” until the water turns clear. (approx. 4- 6 hours or overnight) If the water is not clear after overnight soak, repeat this step. Extremely filthy items may require several soakings.

Step 2. Drain and refill container with water; add white vinegar (a splash or a cup, depending on container size); swish around and soak for 10-20 minutes.

Step 3. Drain and refill with lots of clear water; swish around and soak for 15 minutes. Done!

If stains remain, repeat entire process.
If there is rust, use rust remover on wet fabric, then repeat from Step 2.

If stains remain, lay wet/damp item outdoors in sunshine.

If stains remain, soak with laundry detergent and small amount of bleach. Or use a bleach pen on small stains. It is better to soak longer using very little bleach.

IMPORTANT!
DO NOT mix chemical treatments. Pre-rinse items that may have bleach or detergent residue with vinegar to neutralize the bleach and then rinse twice in clear water before trying another treatment. DO NOT bleach anything after using Oxyclean or peroxide or any other chemical treatment. Your items may turn permanently blue, or worse Rinse really well before trying any other product.

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Washing Down Filled Comforters

Manufacturers usually offer cleaning suggestions for their down items. Most recommend cleaning down items infrequently — typically every three to five years, but life happens and sometimes that’s just not sanitary. Try following these steps to get the best results when washing and drying down comforters and pillows.

Washing

Step 1

Check the comforter or pillow for worn stitching or holes, and repair with small fine stitches to avoid losing any down stuffing during the laundering process.  Most comforters are too big for your home washer. Instead, use the large capacity front-loading washing machines at your local Laundromat…specifically Sapulpa Laundry.

Step 2

Before laundering a down comforter or pillow, check for stains. Color-safe bleach can be used on stains caused by water or food, but blood or urine are best treated with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle or Pure Green Kleen.  Pull the cover of the comforter or pillow away from the down while spot-treating stains to keep the cleaning product from damaging the down. Then launder.

Step 3

Put a sock stuffed with two tennis balls (secured with a knot) in the machine with the comforter or pillows. This addition will help keep the down from bunching and will agitate soil from the items being washed.

Step 4

Use a gentle or delicate-cycle setting and a minimal amount of mild laundry detergent. Choose lukewarm water; hot or cold water can be hard on the down. Use an extra rinse cycle to ensure all soap is rinsed from the down.

NOTE: Down bears a distinctive odor when wet. The odor will dissipate when the down dries.

Drying

Step 1

After the wash is complete, load your comforter or pillows into a dryer large enough to give the items plenty of room to fluff. Add a pair of clean tennis balls to help fluff the down and keep it evenly distributed.

Step 2

Run the dryer on air fluff or the lowest temperature possible. Stop the dryer periodically and break up any lumps that are forming in the comforter or pillow. Also ensure that the down is not getting too warm as extreme heat can scorch the down. Expect the drying process to take three to four hours.

Step 3

Make sure the down item is dry before taking it out of the dryer to avoid the formation of mildew. If the item is still slightly damp, hang it out on a clothesline or lay flat on a table with a fan blowing on it to get the down as dry as possible. Once you bring the comforter or pillow inside, leave the item out for another month to ensure all moisture has evaporated before storing.

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Removing Stubborn Creases

Do your clothes develop stubborn creases that seem impossible to iron out? Fortunately there are ways to get rid of unwanted, stubborn creases and it’s not too hard to do it.

We always start by washing the garment first. This should loosen it up a bit. After you wash, then begin the ironing.  Spray starch heavily on the crease, then move the iron slowly, continuing to press the iron into the crease. In most cases this should do the trick for getting out that stubborn crease.

If washing and ironing don’t work however, you do have a couple of options. You can remove the crease mark by rubbing a bar of soap along the line on the inside before pressing. Also you can pursue the vinegar method. Combine equal parts of vinegar and water and spray as you press out the crease. This will probably make your clothes smell a little funny so you’ll probably want to wash the garment again before wearing. (The extra wash should also help with getting that crease out).

Another tip you can try is taking a mixture of two parts hair conditioner and one part water and rubbing that on the crease. With both of the latter techniques you will want to test it in an inconspicuous part of the item or on a completely different item all together. Make sure it’s conducive to your garments before trying.

Creases don’t have to be the end-all-be-all to your clothes. You can beat those creases if you follow these simple pieces of advice.

 

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Creative Ways to Fold Towels

Whether you like the spa look of rolled towels, or just neat stacks, these ideas are sure to please.

On a Hook

One of the easiest ways to display towels is to place them on a hook like a locker room.  The nice thing about this option is that anyone can hang a towel on a hook, including children so you don’t have to worry about perfectly folded towels.

Stacked

Folded and stacked towels are a great option. You can fold towels in half or thirds for your stacks and place on an open shelf for easy access.

Rolled

Roll your towels and place on a shelf if you like a spa look.  This is a great space saver and looks very decorative.  It’s super easy to roll your towels, so this is a great option for saving space while looking great.

Layer

Layer your towels for easy use.  This option is pretty self explanatory.  Simply fold your towels neatly and layer on top of each other over towel rack.  I like to layer a bath towel, hand towel and wash cloth.

Group with a Ribbon

Group your towels with a ribbon for a chic look.  It’s also a great way of saying, “hands off” if you don’t want someone to use a particular set of towels.

Hang on Decorative Holders

Decorative holders are super great because they can be useful as well as decorative. You can even find towel holders that have a built in shelf.

Fold in Fun Shapes

Fold your towels into fun shapes like a resort.  You can find lots of towel folding tutorials on-line from pretty shapes like fans, baskets and animals.

Decorative Decor

Add a touch of decorative decor to your towels by embellishing with elements from your decor.  This bathroom has a nautical theme so the starfish is the perfect piece of decorative decor.  It’s easy to add the shell to a simple stack of towels.

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

Brassiere Washing

Although bras don’t necessarily fall in the “wash after every use” category, like underwear and socks, they do require more maintenance than you might be currently giving them.

“Rule of Three”

They should be washed every three wears rather than every three days. It’s a good idea to have one to wash, one to wear and one to store and swap out.

The reason you should have multiple bras to swap out is because the fibers in the elastics don’t have a chance to rebound and go back to where they were. In a matter of days, you’ll find the back of your bra hiking, because those elastics have already stretched.

Washing

Ideally, bras should be hand washed in warm water, using a delicate detergent. Gently rub until it’s clean, make sure it’s thoroughly rinsed and hang or lay flat to dry.

If you’re rushed for time, use your machine on the gentle/delicate cycle  and use a gentle detergent. Be sure to secure the hook and eye because a lot of time that hook and eye can snag the lace or fabric.

Thankfully, newer washing machines, which don’t have agitators, are much gentler on bras. But even so, placing your bra in a lingerie bag before putting it in the machine is best. Lingerie bags prevent warping of underwire bras, fraying and excessive stress on the elastic waist.

Drying

Never put your bra in the dryer. Heat can cause your bra to shrink and that will impact the fit and comfort. A well-made bra should last up to five years if it is hand-washed and air-dried.

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Decoding Laundry Symbols

As if life wasn’t confusing enough with emoji’s and acronyms – now we have to deal with squares, circles, triangles, lines and dots on the labels of our clothing! However, clothing-care symbols are a code worth knowing.

The American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM International, put out a standardized set of care symbols with the goal of creating a universally understood “laundry language”.

ASTM symbols follow a simple scheme and a set order: wash (tub shape), bleach (triangle), dry (square), iron (iron) and special care (circle). A circle by itself usually means dry cleaning or wet cleaning. A circle (special care) inside a square (drying) changes “dry” to “tumble dry.”

Adding lines, dots and other marks modify these base symbols and adds info. For example, a large X through a symbol offers a warning, where an empty symbol often means that any version of what the symbol represents is OK to use. A crossed-out triangle means do not bleach, where an empty triangle tells you that any bleach will do. Adding two parallel diagonal lines means to use only non-chlorine/oxygen bleach.

Clear as mud?  Don’t worry, I’ve included a chart to help you decipher what seem to be ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics:

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