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:

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

Battling White Residue Left On Clothes

Residue left on freshly laundered clothes is frustrating and expensive because most of the time you need to rewash the items to get rid of it.

There are several culprits that contribute to this. Through process of elimination, hopefully you’ll be able to solve your residue problem.

Undissolved Detergent

When you are using a top loading machine always pour powdered detergent into the empty washer first before loading clothes. This will give it time to dissolve as the machine fills with water.

If you are washing in cold water the powdered detergent may not dissolve entirely. For best results with cold water and powdered detergent, dissolve it first in a cup of hot water before adding to the washer.

NEVER pour detergent directly on dry clothes or throw the detergent pack (Pod) on top of the load. Doing so will not let the detergent disperses evenly, causing blue or green streaks to appear on lighter clothing.

If you have a front loading washer, or with a top loader with an automatic detergent dispenser, it may be clogged with lumps of detergent. Even liquid products will clump. Remove all detergent dispensers and clean with hot water mixed with 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar.  Make sure it’s not apple cider vinegar.

If the dispensers are not removable. Fill each dispenser with heated pure distilled white vinegar and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Then run a wash cycle with no laundry in the drum to clean out the dispensers.

Too Much Detergent

More is not always better. Using too much detergent can leave residue on clothes.

This is particularly true in high-efficiency washers – both top loading and front loading. These washers use much less water during the wash and rinse cycles. Using more than 3 teaspoons (yes, 3 teaspoons) of detergent will leave residue in and on your clothes.

Too much fabric softener

Never pour fabric softener directly on wet clothes and always use the smallest recommended amount. If you have an automatic dispenser, clean it frequently.

Clogged or Failing Water Pump 

If the water in the wash or rinse cycle is draining too slowly, it could be lint, undissolved detergent and/or soil. This can be redeposit on your clothes.

Many new washers have a small door near the bottom of the washer to access the filter right above the water pump. On older washers, you will have to access from the back of the machine in order to clean the pump area.

Open the area to your drain line filter and be sure that it is not clogged with lint or small items that could slow the flow of rinse water.

If you have cleaned the filter and the washer is still slow to drain, the water pump is probably failing.

Overloading Washer

Stuffing too many items into a washer doesn’t leave room for the clothes to move around freely and for the soil and residue to be washed away.

Dirty Washer

If you have never cleaned your washer, it can have soil, minerals and detergent residue that can build-up and redeposit on clothes. It’s like the soap scum in your shower. This is because of the small amount of water in HE, high efficiency, machines. You need to clean HE washers monthly and a standard machine at least twice per year.

 Washing With Hard Water

Hard water can react with detergents and leave mineral deposits that remain on clothes.

Get Rid of the Residue

Once you have eliminated all of the causes of the problem, the only way to get rid of the residue is to rewash the clothes. Wash the stained items again in the hottest water suitable for the fabric but DO NOT add any detergent or fabric softener. Instead, add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the wash cycle to help fibers relax slightly and release the residue.

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

Why Wash New Garments Before Wearing Them?

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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!

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

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.

 

 

Read More “6 Ways to Cut Down Energy Costs In The Summer”
bottom Gears Mobile bottom Gears