I thought I'd try something new out for Quick Takes. Many comments I've gotten so far have boarder around the "I wish I had time to do ___ " or "I wish I knew how to do ____". Well, knowledge is power so for a little while I'm going to make my QT's about learning and making those little steps to help you make do or live a little simpler. First up - Laundry.
Making your clothes last longer is one of the best and easiest things you can do in a making do mind frame. It might take a little bit of time extra time when you're actually pay attention to stain removal, water settings and care, but in the end your clothes will last longer, wear better and you're feel like a Clothing Magician when you make a stain disappear.
1. Before you get started - Sorting -
- Sort Whites from Colors - While you're sorting always check pockets, close zippers, velcro and hooks.
- Turn dark colored clothes, and pants (as long as they're not heavily soiled on the outside) inside out to preserve color
- Remove Clothes that Lint or Shed
- Sort Lightly Soiled from Heavily Soiled - Lightly soiled clothes do not require as much detergent, so you can actually save a couple loads worth of detergent a month just by paying attention to this step!
- Handwash and Line Dry fine items or antiques items - Do not just throw Great-Grandma hand embroidered tablecloth into the machine and hope for the best!
2. Stains -A Primer -
- When possible treat stains with in 24 hours, the sooner the better. If it's a dry clean only item take it immediately to the dry cleaner and tell them what the stain is and if you can the fabric or material of the item stained. If you're worried about the cost of the dry cleaners just think about what it will cost to replace that "dry clean only" item, it's always less.
- Know your stains!
- Protein Stains - Baby food/formula, blood, cheese, egg, mud, pudding, vomit/spitup, white glue or paste - Soak in cold water, rub it together and treat in Warm Water with a good detergent. Do not use hot water! It cooks the protein stain into the clothes!
- Oil-based Stains - Automotive Oil, bacon fat, butter, cooking oils, mayonnaise, salad dressing - Use stain removal products, stain sticks as per instruction. If these are available rub with good detergent and then rinse under HOT water (if safe for type of clothing) wash in a regular load and repeat if necessary.
- Tannin Stains - Beer, Berries and Fruit Juice, Coffee, Tea, Felt Tip Markers - Wash in HOT water with detergent, do not used natural soap (bar soaps).
- Dye Stains - Cherries, blueberries, color bleeding, Kool-Aid, Grass, Mustard - Pretreat with Heavy Duty Detergent, rinse thoroughly. Soak in a diluted mix of all fabric bleach. If a dye stain is not removed in a 15 minute soak of diluted bleach, the stain is permanent and further soaking will just damage the fabric.
3. Know your Washing Machine -
- Cycle/Time/Agitation - Many newer machine wrap all this up into one setting, but here's the basics with Time and Agitation - Heavy agitation setting for heavily soiled items, light agitation for your delicates. 10-12 minutes for a regular load, 8-9 minutes for synthetics and knits and 3-4 minutes for delicates. Pay attention to this step could save you a little money and a little time!
- Water Temp - HOT - used to kill bacterias, so use for undergarments and whites. DO NOT USE on stains items as it will set the stain! WARM - use for synthetics, knits, permanent press items. COLD - use for dark and brightly cold items, and for rinse cycles.
- Detergent - Pay attention to the amount of detergent you are using! Most detergents today are concentrated so less is needed, you might be using too much and damaging your clothes and spending more money than you need to!
- Do not overload your machine! You're not saving money cramming everything into one load because if the soap and water can't reach everything your clothes aren't actually getting clean!
4. From Washer to Dryer -
- Take time in this step, don't just throw everything into the dryer!
- Check your stained items, if stain has not come out do not put in the dryer! You will permanently set the stain!
- Take out your delicate items - bras, tights/pantyhose, silks or thin knits and hang dry on a line or rack.
- Take out sweaters - even if the label says its okay to machine dry, it'll last longer drying naturally, but pay attention to how you dry the items, sweaters are best dried flat to encourage reshaping. Do not dry on hangers, you'll end up with strange shapes in the shoulder.
- Choose your setting accordingly - REGULAR - is good for blue jeans, whites, towels, PERMANENT PRESS - for clothes to come out without wrinkles to or to unwrinkle already dried clothing. Also for to protect colored clothes from fading. DAMP DRY - save time and money and damp dry clothes that will need to be ironed any ways. DELICATES - For slowly drying delicate items, my suggestion though is to air dry these things unless your in a hurry. AIR FLUFF - no heat, good for softening jeans or revitalizing dry-clean only items between trips to the cleaners. Also good for drying items little shower curtains that can't be dried with heat.
5. After the Dryer -
- Fold, Hang up or Iron Items as soon as you can, you don't want to undo all your good work by letting it sit in a pile for a week. You can even avoid a lot of ironing by using a Permanent Press Setting (on appropriate fabrics) and hanging up items immediately. Saving you time, energy and a little green!