Laundry is a necessary chore that many people dread. There are lots of ways to speed up the process, remove stains better, and make your life a little easier. This is a guide about laundry tips and tricks.
Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".
Machine-wash your whites in cold water, using a detergent and washing soda mixture. Hot water sets the stains, instead of removing them.
A lot of power and water is used doing your laundry. Here are a few tips to help decrease the impact of doing laundry on your utility bills.
Some of the tags may be hard to read (without glasses on). Take a permanent ink Sharpie and write the temperature in bold letters on the tags.
All those expensive t-shirts need to be turned inside out when you wash them so the design continues to look like new. Jeans look great for a long time if you turn them inside out also. Clothes are expensive and it is worth taking a couple of minutes to keep them in good shape.
I read the tip about using oven cleaner to get out stains. I have a much safer alternative than oven cleaner for laundry stains.
We use Lysol Tub, Tile, and Basin Cleaner. It must be this brand. Spray generously on the stain and launder as usual. Before drying check and if the stain is not completely out, repeat.
We have used this on a favorite shirt of my mother's that had one spot of red paint on it. It works on all our four-year-old daughter's clothing also. Gets out most stains.
Traci in PA
When washing large or heavy loads of laundry, run the washer thru a second spin cycle. Gets out lots more water for faster dry time.
When doing the laundry, if I find any of my husband's work clothes that have been gently tied in a knot, this item requires special treatment, like degreaser, etc. This works well for knowing which items need treatment.
If your washing machine does not have an alarm that sounds when it is finished, set the kitchen timer after starting the wash load to remind yourself it is done. How many times have we found a load of wet clothes in our washing machine that has set there all day? The dryer usually beeps, but not the washer. Once you get in the practice, it is very very helpful!
When doing laundry for my 5 boys, sorting is easy: each boy's clothing item is marked on the "collar" area with the first initial of their name, in permanent marker. Every shirt, pair of jeans, and underclothes they own has a small letter on it. After awhile, I recognize whose item it is by sight.
By Marilyn from Findlay, OH
I have a favorite magnet, that's really eye catching, that I use it in my laundry room. I usually use liquid fabric softener, so if I need to put dryer sheets in a specific load of laundry, I put the magnet on the washer as a "reminder". It works every time!
The same could be used in the kitchen on the oven door, to remind you of items being stored in the oven, that need to be removed before your next baking project.
By Terri H. from NV
I supplement regular detergent with borax, and wash in cold water always. When using the clothes dryer (if it's too cold and wet to dry outside or on a rack inside), I throw in a couple clean tennis balls. They move the clothes around more, preventing the inevitable lumping of wet laundry.
By Tarah B. from Moses Lake, WA
Jump start stain removal for your clothing by keeping a pre-treat spray bottle (or whatever you use) in the place where you undress or with your hamper. This works better for me than waiting until laundry day when the stain is well set.
By Gloria from western NY
Having a washer and dryer all to myself was one of the items I thought was a "given". Single living, condo living or apartments may not allow this. I share a washer/dryer with 4 other families. Since I love where I live, I had to learn several tips to make life easier as well as more affordable. Some you can use in your house saving money, life of the clothing and saving time.
Laundry soap has many things in it that fades your clothing. Watch for sales on green organic kinds of detergent. Buying larger bottles saves per load also. Did you know MOST hair shampoo is just a lighter form of detergent? It isn't the kind I use of my hair but works fabulously in the washer.
Those huge containers are very hard to carry, it is also very hard to get the right amount each time. I have the perfect answer. Using microfiber clothes, old wash rags or squares of left over fabric, take the amount you want to use and pour on cloth. Personally I like using about 1/4 less then recommended. I fold into quarters, allowing it to absorb before laundry day when it's possible. I let it dry on cookie sheet, stack them into a plastic zip lock bag. Then when it's laundry day, I take out one, put into laundry and save my back. I can take out only what I need right with that load.
Looking at local fabric store, I found so much fabric that was only 25 cents! Check out the bin where scrap pieces are. Make sure if it is a color that would bleed, you to allow that to happen before putting your soap cloth into washer. I have used sponges also when I first started doing this. I just found they don't absorb like microfiber or good cloth.
I separate everything as I go. Since I don't do laundry every other day now, I need to put wet wash rags and towels over the side of basket to dry before putting with other clothes. Wasting money on more then one basket didnt work for me, I use the packing bins with lids inexpensively bought for $2.50 each. I can easily carry these, they hold more and are larger. The flimsy kind at the Dollar Store fell apart, investing in these bins actually saved me money. Since I sort throughout the week, I have one for colors, whites, etc. I just put the top on and they stack out of the way. The lid makes it so odors and humidity (my air is damp due to sea air) doesn't cause additional work.
I had little orange (like rust) on my clothes, this is caused by air or having clothes in a dark,damp place. I found a rust remover after doing research. I found your washer can also cause this. The water makes machines rust. We all have different water depending on pipes and they area you live. This happens every where. After getting rid of the spots, I add a baking soda and salt mixture once in awhile, especially to the whites. It brightens your whites while cleaning the machine.
My old vitamin bottles work great to have premixed for carrying this to laundry room. Use 1/2 baking soda to 1/2 salt. If your water isn't a problem for you, it's still great for your whites! Bleach ruins all clothing. If you are not careful, it can be dangerous if split or pour directly on clothes.
I spot check before I even put in my bins, way before wash day. Allowing anything to sit isnt good, so just try remembering that sauce you dripped at dinner. Spot clean it or put a little dish soap on that area. Allow it to dry before putting with the rest of the laundry. You can use lemon juice on collars or under arm stains before wash day. Have a small child or husband who works bringing not wonderful smelling clothes home? Check for spots, stains and leave an orange, lemon or lime peel in the bottom of your dirty laundry (cucumber peel works too), making sure you take your baking soda/salt mixture with you.
Use a lingerie bag (get at Dollar Store) for bras or other things you don't want to put in dryer. I do same thing with these items, just putting them in the bag when dirty. It also keeps hooks from snagging other clothes and makes these things last longer. Washing these in bag makes it so easy not to put them in the dryer by accident. They come in several sizes. A couple of my tops are delicate. Instead of having to do by hand, I just put in lingerie bag. Works great!
I wash out the machine before I use it. Sharing is great but not in this case. I keep my quarters in a plastic bag, grab premade laundry cloths and my sorted laundry, making it all so much easier. If you go to a laundromat, I recommend going to the same one. Knowing how long each machine takes, costs and upkeep on them all goes into making it as simple as possible.
If like me, you just share with neighbors. Except emergencies, we all try to do it on same day. That way it is fair for everyone, while allowing me not to have to rush or find clothes left in machine. I time my clothes, not letting them set in dryer will prevent wrinkling. The cost is so much, I can't afford to just let it spin over again. Don't over load your machine. Put things in evenly, spreading towels, jeans or larger items around center. Put your cloths you made in halfway when loading the machine. It gets the soap evenly distributed much easier. I use cold water on everything. Since I can't control water temperature. using my booster works great.
I use the same microfiber over and over so the rule of not putting in dryer doesn't apply when you have premade your laundry cloths. With mine, these are a different color then my other microfiber which never goes in the dryer (what makes microfiber work is ruined by softener). Make sure if you use as many clothes as I do for cleaning, drying or dishes, you recognize the ones that you use for laundry only. I like drying them with clothes so I can make others right away, allowing me not to think about it again for a week.
You can do this with softener too. Just do the same thing; pour onto cloth (or sponge), allow to dry and add to dryer. If you use dryer sheets, put how many you need right on top your wash load. No need to carry the whole box. Going to laundromat, just put how many loads you have in separate baggie. The balls are great for laundry rooms near your apartment or in your building. You can fill it before going out (have more then one). That way, it's all done in the washer. You haven't carried heavy bottles, had to spend time sorting, missed a stain or wasted money on having to do a load over.
I save money on drying, which where I live costs more. If over loaded, it doesn't dry every item and I can't control the temperature, except two settings. I take hangers out when washer is done, hanging jeans, shirts that are 100% cotton or any other thing that I just don't like putting into the dryer. Putting these directly on hangers saves you time and energy.
I get my income at first of the month, laundry is in my budget. When I do bills or food, I get quarters. I have a dish where they are kept until I put how many I need into my baggie. I love where I live, not having a washer and dryer not so much. It can be made easy by doing a few things ahead of time. Now when I do get my own back, I'll still do many of these things. Now I have clean fresh smelling clothing without doing half loads, wasting water, detergent or ruining a shirt by not having a system.
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
I found that I saved a good amount of money by waiting 2 weeks to do laundry -- and also by ironing only once every 2 weeks. Savings have been about $50.00 a month on our electric bill!
By JOHANNAH from CLIFTON, VA
Use dry erase marker on the washer for clothes that are inside that shouldn't be dried! Genius, especially if there are many people in your household! Mine is right next to my Wash In Cold Water magnet! I dislike my bras in the dryer!
By msprissysmom from Texoma
When you wash jeans, be sure to close the zipper before putting them in the machine. An open zipper acts like a little saw blade to catch on your other clothes and make those little holes.
You also have the added advantage of now being able to tell at a glance whether or not the jeans are clean. The clean ones have a closed zipper!
By MarilynLV from Indian Orchard, MA
Make your own oxi-clean using 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup peroxide, 1 cup warm water. Mix in a jar and shake well. Add it to your regular load, or pre-soak for the night. Works really well on stains! We love it. This works as well as store brand.
By coville123 from Brockville
When I'm doing the laundry, I keep a threaded needle in the cupboard above the washer so I can sew buttons back on clothes as soon as I find they came off in the washer or dryer. I used to keep wayward buttons and such in a jar and sew them on later but sometimes I would never get around to it. This way it's done right away.
By Sharon from Bonita Springs
When putting my laundry in the wash I put all my socks in a mesh bag and also a seperate mesh bag for my underwear. When it comes out of the dryer, it is already seperated to be put away.
By Roberta from Newburyport, MA
This is a little something that I do to save me time, money, and sanity. As soon as I take my pants off for the day, I look through all my pants pockets and remove change, papers, and Chapsticks. Then I button and zip my pants.
This way, I know when I put them in the washer if the pockets have been emptied or not. Now, I don't have any more melted Chapstick tubes or ruined pieces of paper with important phone numbers on them.
By Anima B. from Normal, LI
When you use the laundry cap from the big shelf bottles and the cap has to be rinsed, don't bother. Fill the cap as needed, when done slide the cap forward so it scrapes the dispenser of any dripping. Next, put the detergent in the the washer and throw in the cap. It comes out clean and totally dry every time! I never have a problem with the bottle or cap leaking.
It's common knowledge to save on water by adjusting the water level of the laundry load. They say to wait until a full wash load is dirty before washing to also save on hydro. But in some cases in our house that is not possible. I just realized recently that I should be adjusting the amount of detergent too, to accommodate the reduced load. This is my tip for you. :)
When I do my laundry I separate the clothes by color. I put the greens with greens, reds with reds or pink, purple and blacks with black, etc. This way the colors of the clothes circulate throughout the wash and thus preserving the colors in your clothes.
By Plantlady from Chippewa Falls, WI
I fill and run the washer at bedtime, only full loads and cold water. In the morning I hang the clothes on an old fashioned clothesline. This only takes a few minutes and I enjoy being outside in the early morning. By late afternoon, everything is dry and I fold as I take things down. I take down like items together, i.e. all towels, all socks, etc to facilitate putting things away. No hot water use, no dryer use, running the washer at off-peak times. Conserves energy and that's a good thing!
By Linda from Vista, CA
If you need to use bleach on your fabric, make certain to rinse with white vinegar in the water. This keeps the bleach from continuing to work after it has been 'rinsed' out with plain water. If you repeatedly use bleach without a vinegar rinse, your fabric will eventually get little pit holes in it.
For those that want see it at work: Put the tip of your finger in bleach and rinse with water. You will notice your finger still feels slippery after rinsing well. Now put a little vinegar on your finger and rinse. You will see that immediately, the slippery feel is gone.
I learned this many years ago in Chemistry class. One is a base and the other is acid. They neutralize each other. Any vinegar works but white vinegar won't leave any color behind.
Editor's Note: Bleach and vinegar mixed will create deadly chlorine gas. Be sure that the vinegar is added to the wash after the bleach has been rinsed away with plain water first.
By Patt K.
As a child I wondered why, on laundry day, mom had a chain of safety pins around her neck. She just said they were mother's jewelry. I have since learned that the pins were removed from assorted items until laundry was dry, and she would re-pin them. This was done so the wringer of the washing machine would not bend, or otherwise damage, the pins.
Granted wringer washers are not used now, usually, but I have learned to keep a couple large pins attached to the cell phone/ID case I wear around my neck. The most recent uses were to pin the back part of granddaughter's dress, so it would not fall off her shoulders, and to pin up one leg of a pair of jeans for a friend. He usually wears a prosthesis, but not on that particular day. He asked me to pin up the leg of the jeans so it would not drag on the ground.
I always have a couple pins with me, just in case.
By knitter926 from Bloomington, IL
When treating laundry stains, I keep safety pins handy and put one where the stain is. When I pull the laundry item out of the washer, I look for the safety pin, to see if the stain came out, before I put it in the dryer. The heat in the dryer can set the stain. I want to be sure the stain came out before I put it in the dryer. This saves my clothes.
By Cindy S. from Knoxville TN
Before washing clothes which have a drawstring at the waist (or anywhere for that matter), stitch across it down the middle of the back. If you don't sew, a safety pin will do the trick. I had many of those drawstrings and cords to get pulled back into the opening, before I started doing this. I haven't had a problem since.
By Sandy from Elon, NC
Before laundering clothing, close zipper, snap naps, fasteners, and button buttons. That way your zippers and fasteners won't snag other clothing. The best time to do this is before you toss clothing in the dirty clothes hamper.
When you get a stain on your clothing (or other things), try this. Before you put it in the hamper to wash, tie a knot if possible or fix so it has to be looked at before putting in the washer. When I find a knot or clothing not the usual way it should be, I know to look for a stain on it. That way I can pre-treat it before it is put in the washer. I have been doing this and it works great.
By Rosemary from Tipp City, OH
I was taught to put bleach in all my white loads for 3 reasons.
I've always mindlessly added bleach because Mama did. While loading the whites and looking for stains, I realized that most stains can be removed better by pre-soaking or scrubbing. It says on the bleach bottle to use 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups of bleach per load. That's a lot of bleach!
I went to the thrift store and paid 59 cents for a shot glass and put it by the bleach bottle. I now use 1 shot glass of bleach in white loads. That's enough to prevent the dinginess. If something is stained, I pre-soak, scrub and or use a little more bleach. I use 2 shot glasses for underwear or anything that needs to be more sanitary.
I'm using a lot less bleach, saving money and still getting good results while also being good to the environment.
By Di from Wilsonville, OR
Never - repeat - never - dry your jeans completely in the clothes dryer. Pull them out after about 15 minutes in the dryer and hang them up to finish drying. You can hang them over a shower bar or use a skirt/pants hanger. Either way, they will dry straight and keep some softness from their time in the dryer, but they won't shrink and wrinkle up.
I've made this a rule for the entire household, it not only keeps the jeans fitting everyone better, but it makes them last a lot longer. Plus, your loads dry much faster if you hang the heavy jeans, so it's good for saving on your electric or gas bills, and it helps you get through laundry day faster. This technique works well for corduroys and shirts too.
Source: I found the tip about jeans in a book of advice about looking your best at any size. I've always hung shirts and blouses half-dried, but thought I had to dry jeans completely.
By Nhe from TX
I save time and money in the laundry room THIS way.
When I take my clothes from the washer I hang almost all of the shirts on hangers, button the top button on button-downs, straighten the collars, tug on the sleeves, pull and smooth, etc. From there, I either hang them on over-the-door hooks or on the wash line if the day is nice (even the shower rod is good if there aren't too many hangers to weigh the rod). When dry, they can be put straight into each person's closet. I also pay attention to the direction clothes are hung in each closet and hang the wet shirts accordingly so I don't have to re-hang them later.
If some shirts still need to be ironed (as some will), the ironing process is easier because you already smoothed out the collars etc. This saves money on my electric bill by not taxing the dryer, the clothes last longer because they have not given a piece of "themselves" up to the lint trap, the threat of shrinkage is lessened AND I don't have to fold! Jeans, etc. can be done the same way, but may still need a dryer for a few minutes afterwards for wrinkles. I also love this because I never face the fear of excessively wrinkled clothes from leaving them in the dryer long after it has stopped running. (Beware though, teenagers have been known to leave their clothes on the hooks in the laundry room and they may begin to dress in there! lol).
By Brenda from Deltona, FL
When a laundry basket breaks, don't toss it. Drill holes in the rim on either side of the break and sew it together again!
By Elaine O.
You can add 1 cup of peroxide, instead of bleach to whiten laundry. If there is blood or other difficult stains, pour peroxide directly on the stain. Let it sit for a minute, then rub and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.
By Kelly from Largo, FL
Set your oven timer when you put a load of clothes in the washer. If left crumpled up in the washing machine, they'll develop more wrinkles, and colors will bleed more. Set the timer for the expected finish time, and you'll remember to take them out immediately.
For musty smell, add 1 cup ammonia with laundry detergent and wash as usual.
WARNING: Do not use bleach with ammonia.
I often don't have time to separate laundry. No, that's not quite true, I often don't care enough to separate laundry (LOL) and I have a feeling that I'm not alone in my 'sloth'. Actually, it works out well for me.
I try to wash the shirts and drip-dry things first, in a full load. If there's more room, I just continue to put, put, put until the washer is full. When they're done, I pop the shirts into the dryer and set the timer for 12 minutes. (HALF a Bounce sheet is plenty) While that's drying, I hang all the delicates and drip dry things. I invested in one of those laundry room standing things ($20.00) and it was twenty of the best dollars I've ever invested. The shirts will be a little damp when the timer goes off. I smooth them out, fold the collars down and hang them to finish drying. It's amazing how little ironing is necessary using this method.
This also means that when the second wash is done, I can put the towels, jeans and heavier things into the dryer, set the timer, and go to bed. I don't HAVE to be right there when the dryer beckons. The towels will wait patiently for me. If there's anything in the last load that's wrinkled, I dampen a washcloth and pop that, with the wrinkled items, back into the dryer for a few minutes. Abracadabra...wrinkles gone!
By Doggy from TX
It's as easy as pie. I "discovered" this by simple accident. I spilled the vanilla on one of my towels and had to wash it right away to get the stain out. Now I use it every year during the holiday time and have received many "unheard" compliments. You know the kind, the ones people say when they don't know you can still hear what they are saying to a friend/co-worker.
Here is the tip: 1/4 cup imitation vanilla to the "cold" water rinse in your washer. Hot water rinse reduces the scent left in the clothes. This does not harm the washer and gives that I've been baking my hands off scent. You must use "unscented" laundry detergent liquid only.
WARNING: Vanilla stains clothing so be certain to add some brand of color catching cloth/pads.
When wearing "Fresh Baked Clothes" do not use any other perfume or colognes as they will clash with each other. Also, men normally do not want it in their clothes so be certain to separate their clothes from yours.
For holiday guests, rinse the guest towels in the vanilla as well. It makes their bath as fresh as your clothes. I even got really brave and washed their sheets with the vanilla rinse and they loved it.
I use the imitation vanilla because I can by a gallon size at Sam's Club and it is much less expensive by the gallon. I save the real vanilla strictly for my baking.
BTW, if you have house-only cats, mix 1 tablespoon vanilla in 21 ounces of "distilled" water to spritz the cat pan when it is emptied completely (litter and all) to keep their pans fresh smelling. I buy the crystal litter and it works wonders for these pans.
More ways to save money on energy costs:
By Cindy B in PSL, FL
If you open the washing machine and find tissue lint all over your clothes, there's no reason to rewash the load. Put a dryer sheet, like Bounce, in the dryer and tumble the load. Most of the tissue will wind up in the lint trap.
I don't even use a whole sheet, I cut them in thirds.
Use pliers to pull the spout out from liquid laundry soap when the bottle is empty. You can get one more load out of what would normally get thrown away.
By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO
Pull something out of the dryer that's not quite dry? Lay over the top of the boot dryer to finish drying it. Lay wet washcloths, dishcloths, or damp clothes over it to dry before going into the hamper. Prevents mold and mildew. They don't have to be washed right away this way. After I shower, I lay my towel over it to dry.
I have to go to the laundromat and can't have a bunch of wet things laying around all the time, so I just put the item over the boot dryer. I'm sure someone else out there goes to the laundromat as well, thought these ideas could help somebody out there!
By Alicia from Millersburg, OH
Add a little Dawn dish washing liquid to your laundry soap or wash water, and the clothes will come out much cleaner.
Also, only run your dryer for 1/2 the time you normally do. Usually the clothes are dry by then. : )
By Lara from Portland, OR
When doing laundry, you only need to use about half the amount of soap that the box or bottle calls for to get your clothes clean. More soap can gunk up your washer and doesn't always rinse properly out of your clothes, leaving an unsightly build-up.
When washing, to save on electric and detergent, use 1/2 cold water and let clothes soak (reduce detergent and add baking soda). Do something else while they soak. They will come out just as clean.
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Here are questions related to Laundry Tips and Tricks.
Tips to help you organize your home's laundry. Post your ideas.
By debbie (Guest Post)10/01/2005
this also saves money, as the electricity used to heat the water, and run the washer and dryer are cheaper at night rates. i find that the gentle swishing sound helps lull me to sleep. one word of caution though. i would never run the dryer at night due to risk of fire while you're sleeping. also, this won't work if you work outside the home in the AM or have early morning errands or appointments for the same reason; and if you forget to dry a load in the morning the clothes will start to sour and have to be rewashed. not a time or money saver.
Soap remains after cycle is finished. I run it on rinse several times and still have soap bubbles. I do not use too much detergent! I have run it on empty with vinegar and I still get soap bubbles. After four rinse cycles this morning's load is in the bath tub after a good hard shower to get rid of the bubbles.
This is an old washing machine, given to me for my summer house.
By Sadie R. from Denville, NJ
I accidentally washed and DRIED my laundry with a tube of carmex inside. Now there are spots all over everything. Any suggestions on how I can get this out?
By Debbie (Guest Post)07/10/2008
The same thing happened with the carmex. It is a disaster. Very expensive jeans ruined along with shirts. Please help!
What is good for heavy stains on laundry? I would prefer to use a natural product.
By Anastasia from Berkeley, CA
By Mary C.08/25/2010
How about Borax. I use it in my wash when needed. It is a natural product. Works pretty good. You can find it at Wal-Mart.
I wash my top and bottom sheets and two pillow cases in one large load. I don't know why the sheets end up all twisted like a piece of rope when I go to take them out. Any suggestions?
By Cisco's Mom
Does anyone have any tips for doing laundry in hard water?
Washing Soda and Borax are necessary. They soften the water and give that cleaning boost.
I accidentally washed a pen inside of my shorts pocket in a FULL load of laundry, containing my daughters adorable clothes and my husbands work clothes. I need to get it out. Open to any suggestions? I have tried many things but none seem to work. Please help. All clothes are stained.
Morgan from Missouri
By Raili Luyk07/30/2007
Use sour cream or yougurt. Put either directly on a stain and rub or use a toothbrush. Rinse and repeat.
It will not make things worse. Try it. Also it is not toxic. It worked for me.
Our laundry is suffering as a result of hard water. The whites are gray, and the colors are dingy/faded. The hard water softeners are really expensive. Any thrifty advice?
By Louise B.11/07/2011
You could try Calgon water softener additive. I have used that successfully in the past, and it does help with some types of water softeners. It is worth a try.
How do I prevent the metal snaps from rusting when I wash my bassinet? Please does anyone know the best way to wash something that has metal snaps? I am afraid of them rusting and of course it must be hung to dry.
Also any tips to remove yellowing from age/cigarette smoke?
Thanks so much.