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.

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

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!

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

Removing Muddy Water Stains and Mildew Odors

In light of the recent flooding in Oklahoma,  I’ve decided to post  with some helpful tips to help get rid of mildew odor and mud stains that have most likely affected many of you.

Mildew Odors

Washing your belongings a few times on a normal setting may get rid of the odor, but if that isn’t enough to combat the mildew smell, we’ve found a way to get your belongings back in shape and get that unpleasant smell out quickly. Here is how:

  1. Place your smelly belongings in the washing machine and fill with the hottest water possible. Add in 2 cups of white vinegar. Do not add any other products (detergent, softener etc.). This will allow the vinegar to penetrate the material without interference.  Run a full cycle.
  2. If the odor persist, repeat step 1, only this time use baking soda instead of vinegar. Run a full cycle once again.
  3. Dry until they are fully dry.

Muddy Water Stains

  1. Using the same method as above with vinegar works, but in case you don’t like the smell, you can always use a color-safe bleach and the warmest water your belongings will allow.
  2. Baking soda will also work.  Add approximately a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of baking soda to your load of laundry along with your favorite laundry detergent. Do not add any softener, this will allow the baking soda to penetrate the garments. Wash on the hottest setting your clothes/belongings will allow.
  3. If possible hang them out to dry to make sure all of the stains have been removed.  When hanging them out to dry isn’t an option, inspect them carefully before drying.  If needed, wash them again.
  4. Once all evidence of the stains are removed, dry them according to the label recommendations.

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

The Mystery of 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

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.

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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.

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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.

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