Properly Wash Your Clothes

Start by sorting your clothes according to colors or whites and by using the garments care labels. Some garments may say hand wash or delicate cycle etc. Washing symbols can be difficult to decipher but you can usually find the correct wash temperature by looking at the garments label (check out our blog “Understanding Laundry Language”). The machine wash symbol often looks like a tub of water, if there’s a cross through it, it can’t be machine washed.

 (Do not machine wash)

If you’re using a Tide Pod, or one of the other “pod” detergents, toss it into the drum first. The detergent will properly dissolve during the wash cycle. For small and medium loads use only one pod, for large loads use two pods. When using liquid detergent pour it into the dosing cap. Fill until line 1 for medium loads, line 3 for large loads, and line 5 for HE full loads. For powder detergent, fill the drum until line 1 for medium loads, line 3 for large loads, and line 5 for HE full loads.

Fill the machine with your clothes. Don’t overload the drum – 3/4 full is about right.

Choose a water temperature that’s right for your laundry load. Select a wash cycle.  Start the machine.

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The Importance of Washing 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 washings to get rid of the excess dye so continue to wash separately or with similar colors.

 

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As the primary laundry caretaker in our home I understand the frustration of having to turn clothes right side out while folding them. However, there are particularly good reasons for washing them wrong side out.

1) When you turn the garments wrong side out all the wear & tear of washing is done on the inner side & does not affect the outside (right side) of the garments. If fading occurs, it’s also on the inner side, therefore, leaving the right side looking new.

2) All the buttons, rivets, sequins etc. on the right side of the garment don’t undergo the friction during washing.

3) Turning wrong side out also helps when targeting tough spots on collars and cuffs. These areas get a better scrub during the washing process resulting in better cleaning of these areas.

4) Color fast fabrics can cross stain during washing. Turning the garments wrong side out can help to avoided or minimize this from happening.

5) As the garments rub against each other during washing it creates friction. Friction results in fuzziness and pilling (those pesky lint balls that form on fabric) – washing them wrong side out prevents this from happening.

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Understanding Laundry Language

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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Fabric Softener Myths

Are you perplexed as to which fabric softener you should use? Both fabric softeners and dryer sheets do 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 wear 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.

Myth #4: Fabric softener is always necessary

This is false.

Fabric softener is sometimes necessary but not always. It does make your clothes, bedding and towels soft and fluffy, but adding softener can become problematic for certain items such as towels. The softer the product, the less it will absorb. The more fabric softener you use on your towels, the less absorbent they’ll become.

 

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Removing Smoke Odor On Clothes

We all know that smell. The one that lingers after a night out, dinner around a camp fire or an evening spent at a concert. That lingering odor that follows you home. How do you get that annoying smoke odor out of your clothes?

WITHOUT WASHING:

Air it Out

The first thing a smoky garment needs is some fresh air.  Hang the garments in a well ventilated area…even better hang outside.  It’s amazing what a little sun and fresh air can do.

Odor Eliminating Spray or Essential Oils

If the smoke smell remains, keep the garments hanging and use an odor eliminating such as Febreze all over the front and back.  You can make your own odor eliminating spray by combining equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.  Add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil such as lemon or mint oil.

Baking Soda

Place garment in an extra large plastic zipper bag with plenty of room for the garment to move around.  If you don’t have a large enough zipper bag – use a plastic shopping bag or garbage bag. Add ½ cup of baking soda, seal or tie the bag securely, give it a quick shake and let the entire thing sit overnight.  That will give the baking soda time to absorb the odor.  Once it’s done sitting, take the bag outside, open and shake off excess baking soda. Tumble garment in low or no heat drying cycle to help.

IN THE WASHING MACHINE:

Vinegar Pre-Soak

Before washing, give your garment a nice, long, soak.  Add 1 cup vinegar to a sink or tub, then fill with warm water. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a fresh scent.  Soak garment for 30-60 minutes, then wash as directed.

Scent Booster

I’ve tried  Downy Unstopables and love what they do.  Just add a scoop to a load of smoky-smelling clothes and let them go to work.

Lemon Juice

Fresh lemon juice can do wonders for all kinds of cleaning purposes, especially in the laundry room.  Whiten whites and remove all sorts of odors, such as smoke, just by adding ½ a cup of lemon juice to the wash.

Vodka

Alcohol is a powerful odor remover and safe on most washable fabrics.  Pour ½ cup of cheap vodka (or rubbing alcohol) into the wash to eliminate tough odors.

 

 

 

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When Times Are Tough…Cut Cost…Make Your Own Detergent

What you will need:

3/4 Cup Dawn dish liquid (blue)

3/4 Cup washing soda

3/4 Cup Borax powder

Hot water

One Gallon container

Measure out the washing soda and pour into the gallon container.  Then,  the Borax.  Get about 3 Cups of hot  tap water and add to the washing soda and Borax mixture.   Be sure to screw the lid on tight and shake.  Pour more water into the container until almost full and add the blue Dawn dish liquid.  Finish filling container with water.  Secure the lid again. Roll the container to mix – DON’T SHAKE! The soap will bubble if you disturb it too much.  Use 1/4 Cup in your laundry like any other detergent.

https://clark.com/family-lifestyle/diy-laundry-detergent-save-money/

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The Importance of Sorting Clothes

Interestingly enough, you’ll find several different opinions when it comes to sorting your laundry.  Our method is certainly not the only way.  If you have a method that works for you, then by all means keep doing it!  But if you’re getting worn out, torn or discolored clothes, then this article is for you.

What’s the reason to sort clothes in the first place? Do you really need to sort clothes at all?  In our opinion, you do.  Sorting clothes allows you to use different wash cycles (delicate, normal, permanent press) and also allows for washing in different temperatures.

Most importantly, sorting clothes decreases the chances that a garment is going to bleed onto another when you control the cycle type and water temperature.

Sorting Clothes by Color

There are several distinct piles in which to sort clothes: whites, darks, lights, jeans, and delicates.

∙Whites:  T-shirts, underwear, socks and other similar items fall into this category.  This pile is for white sturdy cottons that can withstand normal agitation in the washer on a warm or hot wash cycle.

∙Darks: Grays, blacks, navies, reds, dark purples and similar colors are sorted into this load.

∙Lights: More pastel-type colors such as pinks, lavenders, light blues, lights greens and yellows are placed in this pile of laundry.

∙Jeans: All items with denim material are washed together in this load.

∙Delicates: This category includes several types of clothing – lingerie, washable silks, and any clothing you’d like to keep from the harsh agitation of the washer.

Sorting Clothes by Fabric Weight

Please note that color is not the only consideration when sorting clothes. The weight of the garment should be considered as well.

For example, if you have several pairs of heavy cotton pants, or denim, then you don’t want to wash those with thin t-shirts.  Washing light- weight clothes with heavy material can possibly tear or rip those garments.

If they are placed in the dryer together, they obviously won’t dry at the same rate since one fabric is much heavier than the other.

It’s best just to separate these types of garments from the start and wash them in two separate loads.

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Microfiber 101

Washing and drying microfiber towels properly ensures towels will last longer, stay softer, and produce better results when trying to clean your windows, appliances, drying off your vehicle after washing, or using them for waxing your vehicle.

Step 1: Separate Your Towels

Before washing your microfiber, separate your towels into specific groups such as windows, appliances, vehicles, wheels, etc. Washing your towels in separate groups reduces the chance of cross-contamination during the washing process. If you wash your waxing towels and your window cleaning towels in the same load, wax residue can become embedded in the window towels and can cause streaks when cleaning glass, or appliances such as stainless steel.

Step 2: Use Proper Microfiber Wash

Choosing the correct microfiber wash solution is important to maintaining the condition of your microfiber. Using generic laundry detergent can reduce the life and performance of microfiber towels. We recommend only using a microfiber specific washing solution, such as Chemical Guys Microfiber Wash, to achieve the best results when washing your towels and microfiber goods. Microfiber Wash is designed to safely remove dirt and contamination from your microfiber without harming the material. Using generic laundry detergent can make microfiber feel stiff and rough. DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER! Fabric softener clogs the fiber material and reduces microfiber performance. Fabric softener blocks liquids from being absorbed by the microfiber material.

Step 3: Use the Correct Wash Settings

Place your microfiber towels in the washing machine. Select “Hot” for the water temperature. Washing microfiber with hot water opens the fibers to release dirt and contamination. Add 1 oz. to 4 oz. (depending on load size) of Microfiber Wash to the machine. Press start and allow the machine to do the work.

Step 4: Drying the Microfiber

Now that the towels are washed, it’s time to dry. Machine drying is recommended to ensure the towels are clean, fluffy, and ready to detail. Place all your microfiber goods in the dryer, and set the temperature to “low”. Do not dry microfiber goods on high heat. Using high heat on microfiber can fry the polyester in the microfiber, causing the towel to feel stiff and hard. Towels that are dried on high heat can lead to scratches and swirls when used on cars, appliances or windows.

Step 5: Fold and Store

Once the towels are dry, properly fold and store them. Microfiber can easily hold dirt and dust. To ensure the towels stay clean, store the them in a clean cabinet, closet or container. Storing the towels properly can ensure that no dirt, dust, or debris lands on your towels.

 

 

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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 manmade fibers, and blends of natural and manmade 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.

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