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How to Clean a Mattress

Dust, mold, mildew, body sweat, fungal spores, allergens – all make mattresses the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and dust mites.  If you’re as grossed out as I am by this, keep reading and learn how to clean your mattress for a better, cleaner sleep.

Vacuum It

Vacuum your mattress every month or so or as often as every time you change the sheets, if you or family members have severe allergies. Run the vacuum very slowly over the mattress, so it has time to inhale the dust and dust mites. Break out the crevice tool for the edges and crevices.

Treat Stains

Treat any stain immediately. The longer liquids sit in a mattress, the likelier you are to foster mold and mildew growth.

This may sound crazy, but use foaming shaving cream for mattress cleaning, in part because of its thickness. Liquids will soak right through a mattress, not allowing adequate time to dissolve the stain. Foaming shaving cream contains denatured alcohol, which is a stain remover, and it’s thick, so it sits on the surface to work on the stain. Wait 10 to 15 minutes, wipe with a damp cloth, and rinse with a 50/50 vinegar/water solution. Repeat if necessary.

Other helpful solutions for common mattress stains:

  • Blood: A 50/50 hydrogen peroxide/water solution.
  • Urine, fecal matter, or vomit: An enzyme cleaner, such as Bac-Out by BioClean, or Nature’s Miracle, available at pet stores.

Freshen Fast

Use a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda to remove smells.  Place in a colander and just shake the mixture on to the mattress, let it sit for a few hours or longer, then vacuum. The cornstarch will absorb body oils, while the baking soda will work on smelly odors.

Sheet Strategy
Don’t put new sheets on until evening. This will allow the mattress to air all day discouraging dust mites and bacterial growth.

Pad It
Remember, mattress pads aren’t just for comfort. They keep your mattress cleaner, too.  Wash monthly in hot water, and machine dry thoroughly, unless the tag instructs otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Wash and Dry Down-Filled Items

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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How To Clean 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.

 

 

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

How to Care for Bed Sheets

If you haven’t noticed, bed sheets are expensive.  If you buy quality, you’d like for them to hold up – not fray, get those pesky little fiber balls that form, also known as “pilling”, or simply to prevent them from fading. This blog may seem pointless to some, but learning how to care for your bed sheets will help you keep them longer and save a little money.

First of all, know your sheets’ fiber content. Look at the care label or packaging to identify the fabric content of your sheets. The most likely fabric choices are cotton, Egyptian cotton, or a cotton-polyester blend, although sheets can also be made of bamboo, linen, or silk. Be sure to review the manufacturer’s care recommendations before washing. Keep in mind that cotton-polyester blends will generally come out of the dryer less wrinkled than all-cotton sheets. Bamboo, linen, and silk sheets need special care.

Wash sheets separately from towels or other clothing. This gives the sheets more room to circulate in the water, which means they’ll get cleaner. Washing sheets alone also prevents damage caused by zippers and other fasteners, and it reduces the amount of pilling that can happen over time.

Always pre-treat stains before laundering sheets. Avoid using bleach on bed linens as it can damage the fabric. If you need to brighten white sheets, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the wash water instead of bleach. Use a mild detergent for cotton and cotton-polyester-blend sheets. Special fabrics such as linen and silk may require a special detergent.

Use a gentle wash cycle and cool or lukewarm water. Simple tip – shaking the sheets out before placing them in the dryer can help reduce wrinkles. Use a low heat setting to minimize damage from high temperatures.

Wash your sheets weekly (more often for humid climates) to extend the life of your bed linens. During the time spent on the bed, dirt, dust, skin cells, body oils and fluids accumulate on sheets. The longer these particles accumulate on the sheets, the more stress is put on the sheet fibers. In addition, skin cells and body oils and fluids can attract microscopic mites. A good tip to reduce the washing frequency, is to bathe before bedtime so you’ll take less dirt into bed with you. Keeping sweat, oils, and dirt out of the bed will keep the sheets clean longer.

 

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The Best Way To Clean Pillows

Oversized, bulky and awkward – sometimes it’s hard to know how to wash your pillows.  Just remember with all of the germs, kids, pets, and guests it’s important to remember to wash them.The best way, plain and simple; machine wash your pillows. Most down and synthetic pillows can be machine washed and dried on low heat, but check the label to be sure.

You’ll want to wash and dry at least two pillows at a time to keep your machine balanced, but take care not to stuff too many in at once. Pillows need plenty of water to get thoroughly clean, and plenty of space to get thoroughly dry. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll have clean, fluffy pillows.

NOTE: Foam pillows should not be washed! Sprinkling them with cornstarch, letting them sit for an hour or longer, then vacuuming thoroughly instead.

Detergent / Water Temperature

Make sure you use something that’s fragrance-free and will rinse clean.  Homemade laundry soap is always a good choice: 2 cups soap flakes and 1 cup each baking soda, washing soda, and borax. Water needs to be 140 degrees or higher to kill dust mites, so make sure your water heater isn’t set too low. It’s good to consider an extra spin cycle to squeeze out as much dampness as possible.

Drying

Make sure you dry pillows completely, even a little dampness could reintroduce the very mildew, bacteria, and dust mites you’re trying to avoid. Dry on low, checking them every 20 to 30 minutes to ensure even drying. For extra fluff, dry with dryer balls or a tennis ball in a sock.

Freshening Between Drying

Put your pillows in the dryer on “air fluff” every few months, to get rid of much of the dust.  If you can handle a little bit of the smell until it dissipates, you can include a vinegar-dampened washcloth, since vinegar is so good at killing mold and mildew.

Pillow Protectors

Removable pillow protectors buy you more time between full-on pillow cleaning.  Simply remove and machine-wash protectors in hot water once a month.

 

 

 

 

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

Quick and Easy Way to Fold a Fitted Sheet

Have you ever heard the joke “If you can fold a fitted sheet, you must be a witch”?  If you’re like me, folding fitted sheets is not your favorite thing to do. I would always start out optimistic, but after a couple of attempts, I was left aggravated and looking at a wrinkled, rolled up mess. BUT!  I found a video tutorial, and after a little practice, I can fold a fitted sheet and be proud to open my linen closet! They no longer look like this…..

Here are the steps and video to follow:

Step 1: Place hands in the corners of the length side of the fitted sheet

Step 2: Fold sheet in half horizontally, tucking the fitted top corners into the fitted bottom corners

Step 3: Fold the sheet lengthwise so all four fitted corners are on top of one another

Step 4: Grab the last corner and tuck into the pocket you’ve created

Step 5: Fold the sheet in half again, and fold over the smooth end to finish

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

Brighter Cleaner Laundry

Why buy expensive or dangerous cleaning products, bleaches or de-greasers when all you need is probably already in your pantry!

Did you know baking soda can work magic — including getting cleaner and brighter  whites at a fraction of the cost.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…..

1) Put one cup of baking soda in your wash.

2) Then add your detergent

3) Run your wash on the normal setting and……Voila!  Brighter, cleaner whites!

Try this DIY homemade laundry detergent recipe. This is a project that will save you money and help you rid your home of toxic chemical cleaners and make your clothes brighter and cleaner in the process.

Ingredients

  • 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) shaved bar soap (a homemade laundry bar, Ivory, or Zote)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup baking soda

Directions

Thoroughly mix all ingredients together. Use 1 Tbsp per small load (or 2-3 Tbsp for large or heavily soiled loads) then add  to your laundry.  Store remaining in a sealed container.

Keeping your colors brighter is a challenge at times. Colors fade when the chemical bonds between the dye and the fabric break down, so the best way to keep your colors bright is to wash clothes in a way that either prevents dyes from dissolving, protects the fibers in the fabric — or both. Follow these tips, and your colors will look as good as new!

  • Turn clothes inside out— According to experts, the tumbling action of the wash cycle and the dryer can cause fabric fibers to break as clothes collide into each other and against the walls of the machine. Turning clothes inside out before you wash them will keep the worst of the fraying on the inside.
  • Soak clothes in salt water— Salt is inexpensive, environmentally friendly and great for keeping your colors bright. Before you wash that colorful new top, soak it overnight in salt water. Simply fill your washer with cold water, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt, and then add your clothes. In the morning, just add detergent and run the washer as you normally would. You can add additional clothes at this point, too — just be sure not to overfill the washer.
  • Wash in cold water— Washing in cold water instead of hot not only helps keep your colors bright, it also conserves energy and saves you money. For best results, use a detergent formulated for bright clothes and cold-water washing.

 

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Removing Ink Stains

Most of us have had an ink stain at some point or another, or a leaking pen ruin a favorite shirt or pants.  Before you toss those clothes in the rag bag, check out some of these simple at-home tips to deal with ink stain removal.

Hair Spray

Squirt the stain with hair spray and the pen marks should come right off.

Rubbing Alcohol

Try soaking the spot in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes to remove the ink, before putting the garment in the wash.

Vinegar

Treat an ink stain on a shirt by first wetting it with some white vinegar, then rub in a paste of 2 parts vinegar to 3 parts cornstarch. Let the paste thoroughly dry before washing the item.

Milk

Believe it or not, a Readers Digest article says to remove ink stains from colored clothes, an overnight milk bath will often do the trick. Just soak the soiled garment in milk overnight and launder as usual the next day.

Salt

Pour salt on an ink stain that’s still wet, gently dab with a wet paper towel, and then remove and brush off the salt. Repeat until the stain has completely lifted.

Sand Paper

Yes, you read that right.  The same Readers Digest article said to use a little fine-grit sandpaper and a gentle touch for removing or at least minimizing an ink stain or small scuff mark on suede clothing or shoes. Afterward, bring up the nap with a toothbrush or nailbrush. You might avoid an expensive trip to the dry cleaner.

Cream of Tartar

Make a paste by mixing 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cover the ink stain with the paste for 3 to 4 hours, then brush off the paste and wash the shirt.

Reminder: be sure that you have gotten all the ink out before you dry the washed garment in a dryer, because the heat of a dryer will set the stain.

 

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Always Wash New Garments

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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Removing Yellow 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.  According to  We recommend doing a pre-test on a small area before trying.

Here’s what you 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.

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.

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