Laundry & fabric care tips

Laundry may not be your favorite activity, but it's nice to have clean clothes. Here are some laundry tips to make clothing stain removal and proper fabric care a snap.

Laundry Basics

Schedule a weekly laundry day. Keep laundry supplies, such as detergent, fabric softener, bleach, dryer sheets, lint brush, hangers, a clothing stain removal kit and change for coin-operated washing machines, on hand. Keep laundry baskets nearby and, when an item needs washing, check the pockets and toss it in the basket. Treat stains immediately. Many stain-removal products can be applied and left to soak in until laundry day.

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How to Do Laundry

If you're new to the task and wondering how to do laundry in the most efficient possible way, start by allowing yourself enough time for multiple loads, drying, lint removal, folding and hanging.

Double-check pockets, especially for tissues. Sort clothes into light and dark loads, and wash each pile separately. Check for deeply stained clothes and add stain remover if needed.

Load clothes loosely into washer, select the correct water temperature, and add detergent, fabric softener and bleach according to clothing label instructions. Don't overfill the washer tub or your laundry won't get as clean as it should.

Proper laundry care includes keeping close track of time and transferring washed clothes to the dryer promptly. The longer they sit, the harder it will be to iron the wrinkles out. Remove any items which are delicate or instruct you to "dry flat" or "line dry." Dry the remaining clothes, and don't forget to add a dryer sheet. Pull out freshly dried items and smooth them or shake them out. Then, remove any lint that's built up and fold the items or place them on hangers.

Fabric Care

Drying flat means laying the damp item on a towel after washing, reshaping it, smoothing out any wrinkles and letting it air dry. You can safely machine wash most woolens in cold water as long as you dry them flat.

To line dry, place the item on a hanger, clothesline or indoor rack and leave it to dry. Items labeled "hand wash only" can, in general, be safely machine washed on a delicate cycle so long as you flat-dry or air-dry them.

Delicate knits can be placed on hangers to air dry after washing, or placed in the dryer for 5 to 10 minutes before hanging.

Cottons will not shrink in cold water, but they may shrink during their first trip through the dryer. Use low dryer heat to preserve size. Acrylic and polyester blends will not shrink, but they may stretch if hung damp on hangers.

More Laundry Tips

  1. Organize clean clothes into categories before putting them away.
  2. Wash clothes in cold water to preserve them, avoid shrinkage and save on hot water.
  3. Wash clothes inside-out, especially beaded or fancy items, to preserve life and reduce lint.
  4. Zip or button clothes before washing to preserve their shape.
  5. Wash blankets and rugs separately from clothing.
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