Almost everything I know about laundry, I learned from my mom. And in some circles, (okay, mostly among myself and my mother-in-law), she is known as the Queen of Laundry. When I sat down with her to gather all our best laundry tips, she was pretty humble about it all. She tried to argue.
“Oh, I don’t know ANYTHING. But I did think of one tip…” and it snowballed from there. I’m not saying these are revolutionary, but there may be one or two things you’ll find useful. I’m all about spreading the laundry knowledge, because, let’s face it, keeping clothes clean and put away is annoying. Here’s everything my mom and I do when it comes to everyone’s least favorite chore.
Gathering Dirty Clothes
First things first–you’ve gotta get all those clothes ready for washing. I know. But you can do it! Here’s how my mom and me prep.
- Clip a lingerie bag to each dirty clothes bin in your home, and train your family to put socks inside. One bag per person saves on lost socks. If there are too many, the socks won’t dry well, so make sure there’s some breathing room in the bag.
- Pre-treat stains, of course! The spray both my mom and I use is Shout’s Advanced Action Gel spray. This did the trick for really awful, unspeakable problems…it was only a year ago that I had a six-month-old.
- If clothes are 100% cotton and white, you are in the clear to use bleach. If they aren’t 100% cotton, you can use a brightening stain remover.
- Always treat white clothes, (especially for rural water) under the arms, collar, and the ends of long sleeves, even if it doesn’t look like it’s necessary.
Tips for Washing
Tossing the laundry in the washer should only take a minute or two. Right?
- Mix your lights and colors:
Okay, you probably think I’m crazy right about now, but this tip saved my (laundry) life when I had a baby with reflux. It’s now pretty rare that I divide loads by color. How do I do this? Both of these products work well! Color Grabber by Carbona (mom’s favorite) or Color Catchers by Clorox (my favorite). You’ll be scared the first time you try this, but I promise, it’s safe! Toss in one sheet per mixed load. Sometimes I tear them in half for small loads.
- Use white vinegar in place of softener–it’ll get all the soap out, soften clothes, reduce static, and leave it all fresh smelling.
- Speaking of that, for smelly clothes:
Add a bit of baking soda on top of clothes right there in the washer before any water is added. Then use vinegar as your softener, and add a scent booster like Unstoppables.
- For sheets and towels, I don’t use softener, but I do use a scent booster for amazing-smelling linens.
Tips for Drying
So, drying may seem a little straightforward, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to talk about it. In fact, my mom and I had a hilarious conversation about dryer settings, and it all revolved around permanent press. Are you as baffled by it as I am? Maybe not, but just in case, mom tried to clarify a few things for me, even though she thought “everybody knows what permanent press is.”
- Use permanent press to help prevent wrinkles, because it has a cool down setting. Use this with clothes that you don’t need to iron. It’s not for jeans and towels. Mom says so.
- Summer is a perfect time for drying clothes outside on a clothesline. On warm, breezy days, if you live in a place without too much air pollution, it’s perfect. I’ve never had a clothesline, but I think they would be especially handy for sheets, towels, bathing suits, and refreshing clothes that have been in storage.
- When fluffing clothes, throw in an ice cube. As it melts, it’ll help get your clothes just wet enough to get some wrinkles out.
- I haven’t yet tried wool dryer balls with essential oils, but some day I definitely will! If you love them, let me know. I love the idea of them, but I can’t say whether they work…someday I will change this and update my post!
- Oh, and we discovered another product we both like: Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. My mom uses it mainly for getting out wrinkles in a hurry, and I use it mainly for eliminating static cling. I had no expectations when I used this for static, but it completely zapped it away! I don’t love the scent of it, but it works, so I can overlook that. I just try to use it the night before I need it.
Tips for Putting Clothes Away
You can see the finish line ahead of you now…it’s just that difficult time of day known as always when it’s time to get clothes put away. These tips might just make your job a little easier.
- Hang up clothes right away. (My mom had a closet rod and shelf installed above the washer and dryer.)
- When you take clothes off the hanger, put the empty hangers on the end of the rack in your closet. When you go to hang clothes, you can grab them all at the same time.
- When folding clothes, put on a guilty-pleasure TV show.
- And, from Becky Hastings (see the comments): Pray for each person in your family as you fold their laundry! I love this tip.
- Organize clothes in the closet like a pro: by sleeve length.
- Or, put freshly laundered clothes on one end, because those are the clothes that were worn recently. When you go to get dressed, work from the other end of the rack, and you won’t be wearing the same clothes too often.
Well, I have to wrap this up because I HAVE LAUNDRY TO FOLD. I’m not even kidding. Time to turn on a little Netflix, friends. In the meantime, let me know if you have tips to add to my list!
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