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.

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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!

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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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