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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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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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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Removing Red Wine Stains

Red wine spilled on silk is one of the hardest stains to remove. If you act quickly, you should be able to effectively remove the stain before it sets.

Note: Silk is a delicate fabric, always do a test patch in a discreet area on the fabric before using it on the stain.

Step 1 – Be Quick

If you spill red wine on your silk blouse, tie, or upholstery, the faster you work on it, the more successful you’ll be at removing it. Allowing it to dry will make it almost impossible to get out. If you’re in a restaurant, or otherwise away from home, and unable to work on the stain, blot it with a napkin or paper towel to get as much of the wine out as you can. Do not rub – it will only grind the stain into the fabric and make it harder to remove.

Step 2 – Try Homemade Remedies First

Homemade remedies don’t contain a lot of harsh chemicals that can damage delicate fabrics like silk, so it’s always best to give them a try before moving on to something stronger.

Try mixing a solution of one half hydrogen peroxide and one half cold water and letting the stained area soak in it overnight. If it doesn’t come out the first time, pour out the mixture, mix up a fresh batch, and soak just the stained area again. This may take several attempts and you’ll need to blot the area in between each application. If it’s a bad stain, use full strength peroxide. Don’t allow the stained garments to dry until the red wine is completely gone.

Again….do a test patch in a discreet area on the fabric before using it on the stain.

Another effective solution is mixing Dawn dishwashing liquid and warm water. Soak the affected silk, and then rinse just the stained area with cold water. You may need to soak it a few times. I’ve read some have tried vinegar or rubbing alcohol mixed with Dawn and been successful.

If a slight stain remains, dab rubbing alcohol onto it; then, put a cloth soaked in alcohol on top of the stain to keep it wet and let it sit. Blot the moisture away to remove the wine. Repeat if necessary.

Step 3 – Try Commercial Cleaners

There are several good commercial cleaners on the market for removing red wine as well.

Spray and Wash works well on red wine stains, while remaining gentle enough for silk. Spray it on, keep the area wet and blot away as much of the wine as possible.

Gonzo “Wine Away” is a very popular one that is available at most hardware stores. Follow the directions on the package and use in a well-ventilated area.

Again….I can’t stress enough….do a test patch in a discreet area on the fabric before using it on the stain.

Erado-Sol, a commercial cleaner, is the best over the counter cleaner and will remove 100 percent of the stain. It may be difficult to find, so I recommend looking online.

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Whiter and Brighter Laundry

Baking Soda

What It Does: Baking soda helps deodorize and soften your clothes. Simply add 1/2 cup of baking soda along with your regular liquid laundry detergent at the start of the wash cycle. If you are using a powder detergent, add the baking soda during the rinse cycle.

Bleach

Use chlorine bleach only for whites and bleachable colors. Before using check for “non-chlorine bleach only” labels.

Non-chlorine bleaches, such as oxygen bleach (Oxi Clean) and hydrogen peroxide, are also great at whitening. These products are gentler than chlorine bleach, making them safe for most fabrics and dyes.

Hydrogen peroxide will whiten and brighten clothes, disinfect laundry, and remove stains. Pour it directly on stains such as blood. Add 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to whites in the washing machine to brighten them

NOTE: Test in an inconspicuous area before using the product on darker colors.

White Distilled Vinegar

Vinegar is an excellent fabric softener and deodorizer. Pour 1/4 cup into your washing machine during the last rinse cycle. Continue the cycle as usual

Warning: Never combine vinegar with chlorine bleach as this will result in harmful fumes. Do not use vinegar on silk, acetate, or rayon clothing.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a natural laundry whitener and freshener. Add 1 cup to your washing machine water along with your detergent. Only use lemon juice on white laundry.

Borax

Borax helps remove stains, and it deodorizes and brightens clothes. Borax also breaks down the minerals in the water so detergent can work better. Add 1/2 cup of borax at the beginning of the wash cycle.

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Clever Ways To Use Mismatched Socks

Why is it when a perfectly good pair of socks goes into the laundry basket…only one of them make it out of the dryer?  This is a mystery we’d all like to know the answer to.  Instead of throwing them away, try some of these ideas.

1)  Dusting Mitts

Put one or both hands inside a sock and start dusting hard to reach places like blinds, the back of the tv, the baseboards, ceiling fan blades and more!

2)  Shoe Protectors

Keep your shoes protected in the closet and while traveling by placing them inside of a sock.

3)  Pet Toy

Put tennis balls in the toe portion of each sock then tie or sew ends together.

4)  Car Washing Mitt

Use to clean rims and other tiny, hard-to-reach places on your car’s interior and exterior.

5)  Glasses holder

If you misplace the holder for your glasses or sunglasses, place them in a sock to keep them from getting scratched.

6)  Potpourri Sachet

Fill a clean sock with potpourri and tie/ sew the end shut. Stick it in a closet, hamper, or drawer to keep it smelling fresh.

7)  Furniture Protectors

Place socks on the bottom of chairs or table legs to keep them from scratching during a  move.

8)  Foot & Hand Softener

Rubs hands and/ or feet with a generous amount of lotion.  Then place socks on overnight for smooth skin in the morning.

9)  Cool Pack Cover

Cover ice packs to make them more tolerable on bare skin. This will let you get the benefits without the freezing burn.

10)  Dry Erase/ Chalkboard Eraser

No more wasting paper towels.  Use a sock to wipe marker or chalkboard clean!

 

 

 

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Laundry Guide: Washing

Sort your clothes by checking the care labels. Washing symbols can be difficult to decipher but you can usually find the correct wash temperature (check out our blog The Mystery of Laundry Symbols). The machine wash symbol often looks like a tub of water, if there’s a cross through it, it can’t be machine washed.

Separate whites and dark’s so colors don’t bleed on to the whites.

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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Time To Recharge Your Towels

 

Every so often you grab a towel out of the linen closet and notice it’s lost its fresh smell and softness.  Let’s face it – no one wants to dry off with a scratchy, musty towel. Here are some steps that will help bring smell good, fluffy towels back.

1) Wash your towels with hot water and 1 cup of white vinegar only.

2) Re-wash a second time with 1/2 a cup of baking soda and hot water only.

3) Dry your towels on the hottest setting until completely dry.

If the odor and scratchiness continues, repeat the steps again only this time use 2 cups of vinegar.  If at all possible let the towels soak in the hot water and vinegar for an hour before continuing.

Vinegar  is known for  removing soap and fabric softener build-up. Fabric softener coats your towels with oils. Vinegar will remove the build-up, while acting as a fabric softener. Baking soda does the same thing as vinegar.

WARNING!

Do not mix vinegar and baking soda together.  Be sure to wash in two separate loads.  They will cause a chemical reaction when mixed together!

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