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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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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Caring for Denim

Chances are you bought those new jeans or that denim jacket because you liked the color and texture of the denim, right? Well, those new jeans and denim jackets have been dyed to get that color and rough-and-tumble look to last through multiple washing’s.

To keep jeans looking good, you’ll need to launder your denim carefully to keep the look you love.

1. Always wash new jeans separately.

Dark wash jeans should be washed separately the first time, and in a laundry detergent designed to keep their dark colors safe and intact. The dye in most jeans transfers readily during the laundry cycle, so it’s important to bathe them all by themselves.

2. Turn jeans inside-out before washing.

Washed jeans should be laundered inside-out in warm or cool water to prevent fading (unless you want fading, of course.) Keep both new and washed jeans away from laundry detergents with bleach for the same reason. This is one time you’ll want to use a basic laundry detergent without additives or boosters.

3. Avoid frequent tumble drying and dry cleaning.

Avoid frequent tumble-drying and dry cleaning. Heat may damages fibers, and dry cleaning may cause discoloration. When necessary, tumble dry while the dryer is cool and use the delicate setting.

To extend the lifespan of jeans, lay them flat to dry whenever possible instead of tossing them into the dryer.

4. Don’t spot clean jeans.

Don’t try to spot-clean denim. Instead, wash the entire pants so you don’t create a faded area where the spot or spill was.

5. If needed, iron jeans while damp.

This step is very easy and for those who like the crisp, pressed look. To put it simply – iron the denim while it’s still damp on the highest setting recommended for denim on your iron. Another option is to bring your jean in to us at Sapulpa Laundry. We will get your jeans crisp and pressed with a crease or not, and starched or not – however you prefer.

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Liquid Softener vs. Sheets – Pros and Cons

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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Pillow Washing 101

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.

 

 

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Achieve Laundry Perfection in Three Simple Steps

 

We’ve all done our share of laundry, but some of us have figured out a way to perfect it. Here are some of my favorite tips to keeping your clothes looking great and lasting longer.

Step One: Wait Before You Wash

Wear your clothing more than once. I know this might make some of you say “Gross!” but it’s really not.  You know if something needs to be washed.  If it reeks to high heaven – it needs to be washed, but over the course of an average day, clean people don’t get that smelly. Of course it depends on the activity you do during the day as well. Wearing your clothes at least twice before laundering them can save you a bundle on water and electric bills over the course of a year and save your clothes from wearing out before their time.

(Side note….I’m not talking about underwear & socks.  They need to be changed daily.)

Step Two: Divide and Conquer

Admit it, most of you will stuff everything in the washer to make one load. I get it, you want to save time and money, but this is hard on your clothes and they probably aren’t getting as clean as you think they are.  I sort laundry by “lights” and “darks”, which seems to be the traditional way of doing laundry.  Sorting clothes allows you to use different wash cycles (delicate vs. normal) 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.

Step Three: Chose the Correct Wash Cycle & Water Temperature

Take a minute to read the labels on your clothing. You’ll find the information you need to choose both your water temperature and the type of washing cycle. Following the recommendations on the label is especially important if you are new to doing your own laundry or if the garment is new.

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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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How To Care For Your Towels

Its important to know, you should always wash and dry bath towels before using them for the first time. Most towels have silicone or other finishes. Washing the towels removes these finishes and allows for maximum absorbency.

  • To set colors, wash colored towels with similar colors in warm water for the first several washings. Using about half the recommended amount of detergent, add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the wash water. The vinegar helps set the colors and removes excess detergent residue.
  • Wash towels every three to four days. Use warm water and color-safe bleach (if needed) for colored towels. Use hot water and non-chlorine bleach (if needed) for white towels. White towels should be washed separately or with other white items to avoid subtle discoloration over time.

  • Wash bath towels separately from clothing for sanitary reasons.
  • Use fabric softeners according to directions, but use only every three or four washes. Waxy buildup from softeners can deteriorate the towel fibers over time and reduce their absorbency.
  • Give your towels a shake when taking them out of the washer. This will help fluff the terry loops that aid absorbency. Don’t iron terry towels; this will reduce absorbency.
  • Ensure that towels are dry when you remove them from the dryer. Even slightly damp towels can quickly mildew, but avoid over drying; it can ruin the individual cotton fibers.
  • Many towels feature decorative trims. If possible, use towels with specialty trims as accents only, so you can limit their laundering and reduce the wear on ribbon, lace, or other decorative elements.

  • Fold bath towels and hand towels in thirds for best use of shelf space: Fold the towel in half, with open ends to the left, then fold in half again. Fold up the bottom third of the towel, then fold the top third down. When storing, face the outer edge of the towel to the front to make it easy to grab a single towel.

  • Linen hand towels for the bath can be safely ironed for a crisp finish. After ironing, fold linen towels in thirds like other towels.

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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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