Remove stains and tackle the toughest laundry tasks with this no-fail guide to essential laundry tips and tricks.
1. Keep Your Whites Their Whitest
Do your white T-shirts tend to go grey? White socks look dirty no matter how many times they’re washed? Try one of these tried and trusted washing methods for making whites stay white.
* Soak in a solution of 4 litres water and 180g bicarbonate of soda.
* Soak in hot water in which you’ve dissolved 5 aspirin tablets (325mg each). Add 240ml white vinegar to the washing machine’s rinse cycle.
2. Get Blacker Blacks, Darker Darks
While faded and distressed-looking garments are the rage for some age groups, you may prefer not to look as if the last time you went clothes-shopping was 1998. Here are some tips for keeping black and dark-coloured wardrobe items looking like new.
• For blacks, add 2 cups brewed coffee or tea to the rinse cycle.
• For dark colors like navy blue or plum, add 1 cup table salt to the rinse cycle.
• For denim that will be slow to fade, soak jeans in salt water or a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar before the first wash. Turn the jeans inside out before putting them in the machine and turn the temperature setting to cold.
3. Get Rid of Odours
Know that “new” smell of dye or chemicals that comes with just-bought sheets or shirts? Have a teenager who thinks nothing of leaving sweaty clothes in a locker or gym bag for weeks on end? Worse, ever have a run-in with a skunk? Grab two old deodorizer standbys. First, add ½ cup baking soda to 1 gallon (3.78 litres) water and presoak any smelly washable items for about 2 hours. Then, as you machine-wash them, add ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
4. Get Rid of Yellow Stains
With time, white cotton and linen tend to turn yellow – hardly the fresh, crisp look for which cotton is famous. Let sodium come to the rescue by mixing ¼ cup salt and ¼ cup baking soda with 1 gallon water in a large cooking pot. Add the yellowed items and boil for 1 hour.
5. Never Lose a Sock Again
The invisible sock bandit who hangs around washing machines and snatches one sock from a pair will probably never be apprehended, but here’s a way to thwart him. Give each family member a mesh bag for their dirty socks. Then, on washday, close the bags and throw them into the washing machine. The sneaky thief will leave empty-handed and you should only have to replace socks when they wear out.
6. Freshen a Laundry Hamper
Hampers are handy for keeping dirty laundry in one place, but they can get a little ripe when packed with soiled clothes. Two ways to prevent hamper smells:
• Cut the foot off a pair of old panty hose, fill it with baking soda, knot it, and toss this makeshift odour eater into the hamper. Replace the baking soda every month or so.
• Keep a box of baking soda next to the hamper and sprinkle some on soiled clothes as you throw them in the washer, where the soda will freshen and soften the load.
7. Create Starch Substitutes
No need to run out to the store to buy starch to stiffen your shirt collars or restore body to shapeless clothing. Make your own by pouring 2 cups water into a jar and adding 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Screw the jar lid on tightly and shake well. Now pour the solution into a spray bottle for use when ironing.
If your permanent press items are looking a bit shapeless, don’t use starch when ironing. Instead, add a cup of powdered milk to the final rinse cycle of the wash. Got milk? Got shape.
8. Try Listerine in your Washing Machine
Did you know that you can disinfect your washing machine with a product that virtually everyone has in their bathroom? Simply add half a cup of mouthwash to your empty washing machine and run it through a cycle.
9. Clean Rugs and Curtains
If cotton rugs or cotton curtains have faded, simply add ⅓ cup salt to your laundry detergent to brighten the colours. If a rug is too large for the machine washing, scrub it well with a clean rag dipped in salt water.
10. Make an Improv Drying Rack
Running a dryer bumps up your electric bill, so if you’re thrifty, you’ll want to air-dry any items you can. But don’t think you need a sunny day or even a clothesline or store-bought drying rack. Just suspend an old (clean) refrigerator shelf or oven rack from a beam in your garage or basement and hook wet clothes on coat hangers onto the rack. Smart move!
11. Dry Sweaters with Pantyhose
Don’t pin sweaters directly to your drying line; instead, run an old pair of panty hose through one sleeve, through the neck, and out the other sleeve, and clothes pin the hose to the line.
12. Clean Your Dryer Vent From the Outside
Stuffed-up dryer vents can, in worst case scenarios, cause fires, but most of us never think of examining the vent from the outside on a regular basis. To do so, carefully lift up the vent flaps and clean it out-assuming that it’s not inhabited by any wildlife, as this is a favourite passageway into a warm house! If you do have visitors, call your local animal control.
Source: From Baking Soda, Banana Peels, Baby Oil and Beyond, Reader’s Digest US