Laundry. It is the constant of our lives. Even if your budget allows for sending out dress clothes to the cleaners (lucky you!), you still have all the everyday things to wash: sheets, towels, kid’s clothes, weekend wear and “unmentionables.”
It is the one chore that is just never done. I only wash once a week at my house. I can usually get it all done in a day, but by the time I’m done there’s already more dirty laundry in the hampers. And though I haven’t done a specific accounting to see what the numbers really are at my house, any trip to the store will quickly demonstrate what a big business laundry really is. Whether it’s purchasing the latest and greatest in laundry appliances—FYI: when those $1000 washers also sort and fold the clothes, I’m in. Until then, I’ll stick with my basic washer and dryer—or the myriad of products promising to keep my clothes looking and smelling just like they did when I brought them home from the store, a fair chunk of most household budgets ends up in the laundry room.
I am always on the lookout for ways to make my laundry day easier and cheaper. Since I’ve yet to discover a way to teach my kids how to not get their clothes dirty, I’ve set my sights on saving money getting them clean. Lucky for me, my mom is a real laundry ace. Even now I still call her occasionally for help in cleaning puzzling stains. She always had an amazing arsenal of “tools” at her disposal. And the most amazing part? Most of them didn’t come from the laundry aisle.
Here are six of my favorite tools for getting cleaner laundry without busting my budget.
Shampoo is great for removing ring around the collar. Ring around the collar is caused by hair oils and perspiration. We use shampoo to clean our hair of oil and perspiration. Squirt the shampoo along the ring and then gently work it into the stain. Toss the offending shirt in the wash and life is good.
Gold Dial Soap
Good for perspiration stains and other bodily fluids. Dampen the garment, dampen the soap and rub the stain well with the soap.Hairspray: You can use pump or aerosol. I have always had great success with removing ink stains, especially those caused by ballpoint pens. Saturate the ink stain with hairspray and wash as usual.
Blue Dawn Dish Soap
Save all the other pretty colors and scents for the kitchen. Blue Dawn is amazing for food stains and oily stains. It even works on ring-around-the-collar (are we seeing a recurring theme here?). Just give the stain a little squirt of Dawn, gently work it into the stain and toss it in the wash.
This is my chief ink remover. It works on both ballpoint ink and felt-tip pens. I have the cheapest can of aerosol hairspray I can find (I believe a pump hairspray will work, too–but I’ve only used aerosol). I saturate the stain with hairspray and let it soak in (I don’t rub ink stains) before tossing it in the washer.
Adding half a cup of baking soda to your wash helps deodorize clothes leave them sweet smelling. It also can be mixed with water and made into a paste to help with removing blood stains (wash in cold water) or other stains, like baby stains and perspiration stains.
Note: you can also use washing soda, found in the laundry aisle. There is a difference. Washing soda is MUCH more alkaline and caustic and should be handled with gloves as it can burn your skin. Personally, I think baking soda does the job just fine.
What doesn’t vinegar do? Adding a cup to your whites (skip the toxic bleach on this one) will brighten them. It also brightens colors and helps keep them colorfast. In addition, it is an excellent deodorizer and disinfectant. There are many other great uses for vinegar in the laundry, but that should be its own post.
And a bonus tip: NEVER put a garment into the dryer until you are satisfied with your stain removal efforts. Heat can permanently set a stain. Better to let the garment air dry if it needs another round of stain removal.
What are your best laundry helpers? What have you tried that has either worked—or not worked to make laundry less of a chore for you? Please share your tips and experiences in the comment section below.