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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How To Get Mildew Smell Out of 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:

  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.

 

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Avoid Detergent Overload

Most people use far more detergent than they actually need to. Liquid, pods, powders – It’s no wonder there’s so much confusion about how to use laundry detergent correctly!  Knowing how much detergent to use can extend the life of your clothes and help conserve money by saving on the expense of detergent.

There are several factors to consider when it comes to using laundry detergent properly. First, determine what kind of detergent is best for you. Liquid detergents are easy to pour and work great for spot-cleaning grease stains and ground-in dirt. While powder detergents are good for consistent cleaning overall, too much powder can leave a milky residue on your clothes if not measured properly.  The popular pod takes the guesswork out of measuring out your detergent.  Be sure to never use regular detergent in high-efficiency (HE) washers. This will create far too many suds and can damage the washer’s mechanics over time.

Second, consider load size. Most detergent measuring caps or instructions should state the ideal amount of detergent to use for certain load sizes. Here’s a quick way to determine the load size: if the machine’s drum looks one-quarter full once all the clothes are inside, then that’s a small load. If it looks about half-full, it’s a medium load, and if it’s close to full, it’s a full load. Do not overload your washer—cramming in too many clothes won’t allow the detergent to distribute evenly, which can cause wrinkled, less-than-clean clothes.

Finally, be careful when measuring out your laundry detergent. Using too much detergent won’t make your clothes cleaner—in fact, it will leave a residue on your clothes that can make them break down that much faster and too many suds will not allow an adequate amount of water to fill the machine.  This is due to a water level sensor. Also, detergents today tend to be much more concentrated than they were in the past, so be sure to carefully check the recommended amounts on the detergent packaging and double-check the cap’s measuring lines before you pour. 

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Over Power Those 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:

  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.

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Stinky Shoe Care

What you may not know is that the actual stink in your shoes is bacteria, and it’s living inside your shoes!  It’s not only important to get rid of the smell, but also the bacteria, because over time it can cause an infection or nail fungus.

Deodorizing Canvas or Fabric Shoes

Canvas or fabric shoes can be tossed in the washer and ran through a warm water cycle. To deodorize, add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse. Don’t use fabric softener, because it can trap bacteria in your shoes.

Place them outdoors in the sun to air-dry.  UV rays will also help kill any bacteria that may be left.  If placing them outside isn’t an option, place them in a sunny window sill or with a fan blowing on them.

Deodorizing Stinky Shoe Inserts

Take them out of the shoes and wash them in a sink full of warm, soapy water. Drain and refill with 2 cups water and 1 cup white vinegar. Let them soak for 5-10 minutes, rinse thoroughly. Finally, using a paper towel, press the insole to remove as much water as possible, and then allow them to air-dry.

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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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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.

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Removing Diesel/Gas Stains and Odors

Have you ever been pumping gas and all of a sudden the tank is full and Ooops! the gas splashes out and right on to your clothes? So how do you get that awful odor out? It’s important to know that diesel/gas stains make all fabrics more flammable than normal so it is very important to handle the items carefully.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Gas and diesel stained clothes and rags should not be washed with other clothing. If after washing you can still smell fuel odor, do not place the garments in a clothes dryer. The excessive heat can cause the fabric to burst into flames.

Since gasoline and diesel are petroleum oil-based stains, they need to be pretreated using a solvent based stain removal product, like Shout or Spray ‘n Wash. If you don’t have a solvent-based pre-treater, apply a bit of enzyme-based heavy-duty liquid detergent, like Tide or Persil to the stain and work it in by gently rubbing with a soft bristle brush. Allow the stain remover to work for at least fifteen minutes before washing.

After pretreatment, wash the garment as usual in the hottest water appropriate for the fabric. Inspect the garment for stains and sniff for odors before drying and repeat treatment if necessary.

If there is still any lingering fuel odors, soak the stained clothes overnight in enough water to completely submerge the fabric with 1 cup baking soda added. Then rewash and rinse as usual.

For exceptionally heavy odors, fill the washer, deep sink or plastic tub with warm water and add 1 cup household ammonia. Shut the lid or cover the solution if possible. Allow the garments to soak for several hours or overnight. Drain the washer and wash as usual.

DO NOT USE ANY CHLORINE BLEACH during the soaking or washing because dangerous fumes can form.

Allowing the clothes to air dry outside will help remove odors as well. Again, if any trace of odor remains, air dry on an indoor rack or outside on a clothesline. Do not put these items in an electric or gas dryer.

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Proper Care For Your Sneakers

Have you ever looked down at your white sneakers and been self-conscious?  If you have, then follow these easy to do steps and feel good about your white, almost new looking, shoes.

First of all, start with preventative care.  Grab a bottle of stain repellent at the shoe store, or anywhere they carry shoe supplies, and spray your shoes. Simply spray the repellent evenly on the surface of your shoes and let them dry overnight. Give your shoes a nice cleaning every few weeks to ensure they stay looking brand new.

Next, clean the soles. When the soles or the rubber part on your favorite pair of shoes needs a good cleaning, give them a good scrub. Try this one spot-cleaning method that’s sure to work – and it’s probably not what you think. Pick up a Magic Eraser next time you’re in the store, because it will soon become your go-to for keeping your sneakers white. Simply wet the Magic Eraser with water, and rub your shoes in a circular motion to watch the eraser work its magic.

Last, but not least – don’t forget the shoelaces. Remove your shoelaces from your sneakers. Fill your sink with hot water and add a few dashes of your favorite laundry detergent. Massage the laces between your thumb and index finger. You can also use the detergent and a toothbrush to get a deep cleaning. Squeeze the laces in a towel or paper towel to get out excess water, then hang them to dry.

Specialty sneakers.  Sometimes sneakers have a different type of material that needs to be cleaned a little bit differently.

How to Clean:

White canvas sneakers: Combine baking soda with an equal amount of a mixture that’s half water and half hydrogen peroxide until it forms a paste. After making sure all excess dirt is brushed off your sneakers, apply the mixture. Let your shoes sit for a few hours until the mixture has hardened. Shake off the hardened mixture and use an old toothbrush or crumpled up paper towel to remove the excess paste. You’ll notice those sneakers are way whiter! If the sneakers are still damp or wet let them dry before wearing them.

White leather sneakers: It might sound too good to be true, but getting your favorite white leather sneakers looking good-as-new, is as easy as taking a toothbrush with your favorite white toothpaste to the surfaces of the shoe. Use warm water with the toothpaste. You can even add sugar to the toothpaste to create an exfoliate effect for any areas where dirt seems to be caked on. Wipe with a clean towel or paper towel. Again, if the sneakers are still damp or wet let them dry before wearing them.

 

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