I love to do laundry. I’m crazy that way. And I enjoy discovering ways to do it more efficiently—and by efficient I do mean cheaper, better and faster.
In fact, I was about ready to give myself a proper title, The Laundress, until I discovered a couple of very bright young women in New York City beat me to it. It’s OK. They can keep the title and charge an arm and a leg for their chi-chi laundry products in little bottles.
Me? I’d rather use every tip I can find to create equally beautiful results and keep my money, too. Are you with me? Great! Here are some of my favorite laundry tips to get going.
When wrong is right
Wash your clothes inside-out to keep them looking newer longer. In this way, the wrong side of the garment takes all of the abuse and fading caused by the agitation—not the right side. Clothes get just as clean when washed inside-out.
Soft dry jeans
You’ll never experience the heartbreak of shrunken jeans if you do this: Put them in the dryer for only 10 minutes. That’s enough to soften them. Take them out still wet and hang on a hanger from ankles. The weight of the semi-wet jeans will pull out the wrinkles and keep them at their proper length when fully dry.
They look like overgrown tennis balls, made of 100% wool yarn, that over time becomes “felted,” making them especially durable and not at all prone to unraveling. One set of wool dryer balls will last what seems like forever, softening thousands of loads of laundry—no batteries, refills, repairs or reconditioning required. It’s one (purchase) and done!
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For nearly magical, all-purpose stain remover, mix one part blue Dawn dishwashing liquid with two parts hydrogen peroxide. Pour directly onto the stain. Add in baking soda for an extra scrubbing element. Let it sit for an hour or so, then launder as usual.
Mix a solution of one-gallon lukewarm water and two tablespoons baby shampoo (any brand as long as it guarantees “no tears.”) Soak the shrunken garment for about ten minutes. Now the important part: Don’t rinse! Simply blot out all the excess water with a dry towel and very gently lay it flat on a fresh towel. Reshape slowly and carefully stretch it back to its original size. Dry out of direct sunlight or heat. This tip comes from the Wool Bureau, which verifies this technique will work provided the fibers have not become permanently damaged.
Need those jammies or towels to dry fast? Add a dry towel or two into the mix and it will reduce dry time significantly.
Dryer sheet rescue
Don’t throw away all of your used laundry softener sheets. When you have an impossible-to-clean casserole dish or pot, toss one or two of the used sheets into the pan, fill with hot water and—presto!—in 20 minutes it wipes clean, no scrubbing needed. Store the sheets in an empty tissue box.
Instead of using expensive cold water detergents for delicates and fine sweaters, use baby shampoo. The results with be the same, and the cost considerably less.
If you want to keep your white laundry stain free and brilliantly white without using chlorine bleach, here’s the secret: Fill washing machine with the hottest water available. Add 1 cup Cascade automatic dishwasher powder and 1 cup Super Washing Soda. Add washable whites, allowing to agitate for a few minutes. Turn machine off (or hit Pause on some front loaders0 and allow to soak at least three hours. Overnight is fine. Finish cycle and dry as usual.
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