How To Clean Your Stinky, Mildew Towels

At some point most of us have used a towel, for whatever reason, and tossed it in to the dirty laundry and forgotten it was wet. A few days later and the smell will remind you! That smell is caused by mildew that sets in, and isn’t very easy to get rid of.  Washing your towels a few times on a normal setting may get rid of the odor, but if that isn’t enough to combat the mildew smell, I’ve found a way to get your towels back in shape and get that unpleasant smell out quickly. Here is how:

  • Place your smelly towels in the washing machine and fill with the hottest water possible. Add in 2 cups of white vinegar and let them soak for at least 30 mins. Do not add any other products (detergent, softener etc.). This will allow the vinegar to penetrate the material without interference.
  • Run a full cycle after your towels have soaked in the vinegar water. Leaving the towels in the washer repeat step 1, only this time use baking soda instead of vinegar. Run a full cycle once again.
  • Dry the towels on hottest setting possible until they are fully dry.

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Washing Down Filled Comforters

Manufacturers usually offer cleaning suggestions for their down items. Most recommend cleaning down items infrequently — typically every three to five years, but life happens and sometimes that’s just not sanitary. Try following these steps to get the best results when washing and drying down comforters and pillows.

Washing

Step 1

Check the comforter or pillow for worn stitching or holes, and repair with small fine stitches to avoid losing any down stuffing during the laundering process.  Most comforters are too big for your home washer. Instead, use the large capacity front-loading washing machines at your local Laundromat…specifically Sapulpa Laundry.

Step 2

Before laundering a down comforter or pillow, check for stains. Color-safe bleach can be used on stains caused by water or food, but blood or urine are best treated with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle or Pure Green Kleen.  Pull the cover of the comforter or pillow away from the down while spot-treating stains to keep the cleaning product from damaging the down. Then launder.

Step 3

Put a sock stuffed with two tennis balls (secured with a knot) in the machine with the comforter or pillows. This addition will help keep the down from bunching and will agitate soil from the items being washed.

Step 4

Use a gentle or delicate-cycle setting and a minimal amount of mild laundry detergent. Choose lukewarm water; hot or cold water can be hard on the down. Use an extra rinse cycle to ensure all soap is rinsed from the down.

NOTE: Down bears a distinctive odor when wet. The odor will dissipate when the down dries.

Drying

Step 1

After the wash is complete, load your comforter or pillows into a dryer large enough to give the items plenty of room to fluff. Add a pair of clean tennis balls to help fluff the down and keep it evenly distributed.

Step 2

Run the dryer on air fluff or the lowest temperature possible. Stop the dryer periodically and break up any lumps that are forming in the comforter or pillow. Also ensure that the down is not getting too warm as extreme heat can scorch the down. Expect the drying process to take three to four hours.

Step 3

Make sure the down item is dry before taking it out of the dryer to avoid the formation of mildew. If the item is still slightly damp, hang it out on a clothesline or lay flat on a table with a fan blowing on it to get the down as dry as possible. Once you bring the comforter or pillow inside, leave the item out for another month to ensure all moisture has evaporated before storing.

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Removing Smoke Odor

Smoke

Smoke

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.

 

 

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

How to Clean Your Mattress


Dust, mold, mildew, body sweat, fungal spores, allergens – all make mattresses the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and dust mites.  If you’re as grossed out as I am by this, keep reading and learn how to clean your mattress for a better, cleaner sleep.

Vacuum It

Vacuum your mattress every month or so or as often as every time you change the sheets, if you or family members have severe allergies. Run the vacuum very slowly over the mattress, so it has time to inhale the dust and dust mites. Break out the crevice tool for the edges and crevices.

Treat Stains

Treat any stain immediately. The longer liquids sit in a mattress, the likelier you are to foster mold and mildew growth.

This may sound crazy, but use foaming shaving cream for mattress cleaning, in part because of its thickness. Liquids will soak right through a mattress, not allowing adequate time to dissolve the stain. Foaming shaving cream contains denatured alcohol, which is a stain remover, and it’s thick, so it sits on the surface to work on the stain. Wait 10 to 15 minutes, wipe with a damp cloth, and rinse with a 50/50 vinegar/water solution. Repeat if necessary.

Other helpful solutions for common mattress stains:

  • Blood: A 50/50 hydrogen peroxide/water solution.
  • Urine, fecal matter, or vomit: An enzyme cleaner, such as Bac-Out by BioClean, or Nature’s Miracle, available at pet stores.

Freshen Fast

Use a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda to remove smells.  Place in a colander and just shake the mixture on to the mattress, let it sit for a few hours or longer, then vacuum. The cornstarch will absorb body oils, while the baking soda will work on smelly odors.

Sheet Strategy
Don’t put new sheets on until evening. This will allow the mattress to air all day discouraging dust mites and bacterial growth.

Pad It
Remember, mattress pads aren’t just for comfort. They keep your mattress cleaner, too.  Wash monthly in hot water, and machine dry thoroughly, unless the tag instructs otherwise.

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

Removing Mildew Odor From Towels

 

At some point most of us have used a towel, for whatever reason, and tossed it in to the dirty laundry and forgotten it was wet. A few days later and the smell will remind you! That smell is caused by mildew that sets in, and isn’t very easy to get rid of.  Washing your towels a few times on a normal setting may get rid of that stink, but if that isn’t enough to combat the mildew smell, I’ve found a way to get your towels back in shape and get that unpleasant smell out quickly. Here is how:

  1. Place your smelly towels in the washing machine and fill with the hottest water possible. Add in 2 cups of white vinegar and let them soak for at least 30 mins. Do not add any other products (detergent, softener etc.). This will allow the vinegar to penetrate the material without interference.
  2. Run a full cycle after your towels have soaked in the vinegar water. Leaving the towels in the washer repeat step 1, only this time use baking soda instead of vinegar. Run a full cycle once again.
  3. Dry the towels on hottest setting possible until they are fully dry

Your towels will smell like brand new!

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.

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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.

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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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How to Wash Hats Without Ruining the Shape

 

There comes a time when your favorite hat needs a good cleaning. But before you start, take time to look at the little tag on the inside to get an idea of the fiber content and the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Of course, your tag may be gone or unreadable so, we’ll cover instructions for safe cleaning of almost any type of baseball cap.

Newer baseball hats are often made of cotton twill, cotton polyester blends or jersey mesh. These fabrics are strong and durable and usually colorfast. New hats use a plastic form to shape the brim, not cardboard. These plastic forms can withstand a wash without becoming deformed.

To clean, pre-treat exceptionally dirty areas like sweatbands with a solvent-based spray or gel like Shout or Spray ‘n Wash or a bit of heavy duty laundry detergent like Persil or Tide. These detergents have enough enzymes to break apart body soil and oil grime. Wash the hat with the rest of similarly colored clothing on the delicate cycle using cool water. Do not use bleach. If you are very concerned with protecting the shape of the hat, you can use a specially designed hat form and toss it in the washer.

Allow the hat to dry in the form or over a large coffee can or other head-shaped container. Do not put baseball hats in the dryer because excessive heat and tumbling action can distort the hat’s shape.

If the hat has a cardboard or paper filled bill, you will have to do spot-cleaning only. Use a soft-bristled brush and scrub the stained areas with a heavy-duty detergent/water mixture. Do not over wet the area. Blot with a clean white cloth dipped in water. Allow to air dry. You may need to repeat the steps several times.

You’ve probably heard of washing hats in the dishwasher on the top rack. I wouldn’t recommend this because dishwasher detergents are harsh and often contain bleach that can ruin your hat. Also, the high temperatures aren’t good for the fabric and may cause the hat to shrink.

Cleaning Newer Wool Baseball Hats

Wool baseball hats should be hand washed using cool water and a mild detergent designated for wool. Be gentle and don’t scrub or twist the fibers. Rinse well in cool water and roll gently in a thick towel to absorb most of the moisture. Allow to air dry on a head-shaped object. If you dry your wool hat on your own head, it will dry to the precise shape of your head and cause it to be too tight.

Cleaning Older or Commemorative Baseball Hats

Commemorative hats should always be stored in a covered case to prevent dust and grease from accumulating on the hap. These should only need a light dusting or brushing to keep them at their best. Always store away from direct light and intense heat.

If a deeper cleaning is needed, first do a colorfastness test. Using a white cloth with a bit of mild detergent, gently rub an inconspicuous area of the cap.

If there is color transfer, do not proceed. If it is colorfast, continue using the cloth to clean the entire hat. Do not immerse the hat in water. The bill may be shaped using cardboard that will dissolve. Rinse your cloth in clean water to “rinse” the hat. Air dry on a head-shaped container.

If you have an autograph that you want to preserve, keep the hat in a dark, air conditioned space to prevent fading and mold or mildew from forming. If you want to wear the autographed hat, protect the signature by covering the signed area with a white, pressing cloth and iron the area on high heat.  This will help set the ink.

 

 

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Drying out Shoe Odors

Do you have an athlete in the family that has smelly shoes, or you yourself have sweaty feet that cause your shoes to smell?  We’ve got a way to help you rid your shoes of odors.

The first step is to rid your shoes of dampness from perspiration. This can help prevent odor and even prolong the life of your shoes. Whenever you take off your shoes for the day, slip a few small pieces of white chalk (inexpensive children’s sidewalk chalk works great!) into each shoe to help absorb moisture.

We’ve found the most efficient way to move the chalk in and out of your shoes, is to wrap the chalk in small pieces of cheesecloth and tie them with twist ties. The chalk can become flaky after absorbing the dampness, and who wants to touch damp, sweaty chalk? Yuk!

(Cheesecloth is inexpensive and can be purchased at Walmart or Target)

Another easy way to help remove moisture and odors is to crumple up newspaper and stuff it inside the shoes when they are not being worn. Be sure to use fresh pieces of newspaper each time.

Last but not least fill nylons or tights with cat litter or Cedar chips and let them sit overnight to absorb moister and odors.

 

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