Smart Laundry Tips

Learn how to save money and get cleaner clothes and linens with these smart laundry tips and techniques.

Sort light colors from dark colors. That is the one of the first and most important lessons we learn about washing laundry. But how do you handle tough stains or wash delicates? Here are tricks and tips to assist you in getting cleaner clothes, as well as saving money and energy.

Test for Colorfastness

Worried a red sock might ruin a yellow shirt? First sort your clothes by washing method, color, and type of fabric. If you have doubts about the colorfastness of any clothing item, test it or wash it separately in a low-water setting.

To test for colorfastness, mix a small amount of detergent with a cup of water. Moisten the seam or an inconspicuous spot on the garment with the mixture. Rub the spot with a clean, dry white towel. If the garment leaves a color smudge on the towel, the item should be laundered separately.

Remove Tough Stains

Defeat a tough stain before the clothes are loaded into the washer. Working from the inside of the garment, flush the stain with cold water by running it under the faucet. Another technique: Place paper towels over the stain; spray the spot with cold water from the inside. The stain will transfer from the garment to the towel.

Be sure to pretreat shirt collars and cuffs that are heavily soiled using a prewash stain-removal product or liquid laundry detergent. Tamp the spot to break up the stain. If the stubborn stain is still present after the first wash, do not put the item in the dryer. Instead, re-treat with the stain-removal product and wash again.

Some stains require special attention and products designed specifically for that type of stain. If you know what the stain is, customize your treatment plan to match its specific properties.

Handle Delicates

Washing delicates can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some simple tips for getting the best results.

  • Clean delicate items in mild, gentle detergents made for fine washables, such as knits and sweaters. Turn the delicates inside out and use the delicate or knit setting on your washer.
  • If you wash delicate blouses, panty hose, tights, or lingerie in the washing machine, place them in zippered net bags to avoid tangles and too much agitation.
  • Because cold water isn't as effective as warm water at removing body oils and detergents from your clothing, run your cold-water clothes through a warm cycle every third or fourth load.
  • Dry your delicate items flat, away from sunlight.

Be Smart About Laundry Costs

Don't wash money down the drain. Detergent can be expensive. Use the recommended amount, only using extra for heavily soiled garments, extra-large loads, or hard water. Too much detergent is damaging to clothes. Sudsy residue can remain in your machine and transfer to clothes. Especially when using high-efficiency or concentrated detergents, keep detergent amounts at or below the recommendation for your load size.

Most detergents work best in warm or hot water. Use cold water only for washing clothes that might fade or clothes that are lightly soiled. If it's available on your machine, use the automatic temperature control to sense and adjust temperatures for maximum efficiency.

Save laundry time and costs by immediately removing cotton-blend items from the dryer. You might eliminate the need for ironing by hanging shirts, skirts, and other items on hangers while they are still slightly damp. Allow them to finish air-drying before you put them away.

If you can, run the dryer at night when energy rates are lower. This also decreases the amount of humidity in your home. During the summer, humidity causes the air-conditioner to use extra energy to process the moisture. 


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