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Wash It This Way, Not That!

If you’re like me, what you know about washing and drying clothes is what you learned from your mother, your grandmother, your aunt, sister, or Home Economics teacher. Unfortunately, some of those hints you learned while doing chores as a kid might be damaging the clothes you wear now.  Here are the seven laundry lessons that you should UNlearn as soon as possible to make sure your clothes are really clean and to keep them from wearing them out too quickly.

1.     Don’t Wash That Stain In Hot Water

Not all stains are the same. Protein-based stains like sweat, blood and most food stains, require a cold rinse to keep them from setting in. Washing stains like this in hot water first will just bake them into your clothes.

2.      Bleach or No Bleach?

Check the Cycle. The Whites or Cottons cycles on most washers, for example, are designed to work with bleach, adding an extra rinse at the end of a wash to get the chlorine smell out of your clothes. If you wash your whites without bleach, you’re just wasting water on a useless extra rinse. If you add bleach to a normal cycle, you might end up smelling like you just got out of the pool.

3.      Don’t Over-Soap

Does your washer have the “high efficiency” logo on it? Make sure to read the manual and buy the right kind of detergent. High efficiency detergents are concentrated so you don’t need to add as much as you would with a conventional washer. Follow the instructions on your bottle of laundry detergent and only put in the amount it recommends. You’ll save money on detergent, and your clothes won’t end up with excess soap in them.

4.      Lend a Hand to Bulky Loads

Notice that big items like king size sheets and comforters tend to bunch up in the dryer and come out with a big damp spot in the middle?  Bulky loads need space to move around, but the normal household dryer isn’t big enough to tumble a comforter and dry it thoroughly. Give your dryer a hand by untangling and flipping around big items about halfway through the cycle.

5.      Consider Air-Drying Delicates

If you live somewhere where you can air-dry your laundry, consider using your clothes dryer only to get the initial bulk of water out of a load. The high heat and constant tumbling can cause delicate items to shrink and wear prematurely, so it’s best to minimize the time that those items spend in a dryer. Many dryers contain a “damp dry” option that automatically stops a cycle when clothes are dry enough to hang on a line. Those few minutes spent tumbling are all you need to reduce musty smells and wrinkles.

6.      Check Your Vents And Hoses

This one should be a no-brainer, but a dryer with clogged vents will have to work harder to get your clothes dry, and it will also put you at increased risk for a house fire. Always empty your lint trap, check your dryer vent hose for lint buildup, and replace your hoses every five years. Lint can also be recycled. Use it on top of soil around potted plants that need lots of water to keep the soil moist and discourage weeds.

7.      Read That Manual!

For washers and dryers alike, automatic cycles go by different names across different brands. “Regular” on one brand may be “Normal” on another and “Permanent Press” on a third. The Owner’s Manual will  contain information about which cycle is best for different kinds of loads – especially helpful if you have a machine that has the “Pet Beds” cycle. If you’ve lost manual, check online: most manufacturers make them available for free download.

Have any tips you can share?  Leave us your inspiration in the Comments below.