Savvy laundry routines make washing clothes easier — and fun! Learn how to extend the life of your clothing and save money while still having a great time.
Jazz it up
- Brighten: Dreary laundry spaces make the task more tedious. Paint the laundry room a cheery color. Hang an inexpensive print of a dreamy destination nearby. Then, you can take a visual vacation while sorting and folding.
- Boogie to the beat: Bring a CD player or MP3 player to the laundry area. Tune in and sing along — it’ll pass the time.
- Light a candle: A fresh scent relaxes the senses and puts the mind at ease.
Get the right stuff
- Take precautions: Do you have family members with skin allergies or scent sensitivity? Choose unscented detergents.
- Check clothing labels: Follow fabric-care instructions on clothing labels.
- Check product labels: Front-loading and energy-efficient washing machines require high-efficiency detergent. Look for “HE” on the detergent label.
- Get soft: Hard water sets stains and leaves white residue on dark clothes. Water softeners cut cleaning time and extend garment and appliance life span.
- Stock up: Hit the sales and stock up on favorite laundry-detergent brands. You’ll save big money in the long run.
- Think safety first: Store all laundry and cleaning products out of reach of children and pets.
Help the environment
- Replace: When it’s time for a new washer and dryer, purchase energy-efficient models.
- Save water: Set water levels for the correct load size. Check your washer’s instruction manual for additional details.
- Cut the power bill: Cold water is as efficient as warm / hot water for most laundry, and it saves energy because you’re using the water cold and not using energy to heat it up. You can also do laundry at off-peak energy-usage times, usually after 10 p.m. or before 9 a.m. Clean your dryer’s lint filters, too.
- Separate: Wash whites only with other whites. Even if dark clothes have been washed many times, don’t mix them with your whites. They’ll turn white clothes grey over time. Wash heavily soiled laundry and lightly soiled garments separately.
- Spot check: Pre-treat spots and stains with stain remover. Check for stains again before drying. Drying before eliminating the problem may permanently set stains.
- Recruit: Teach the kids to do their own laundry. They’ll thank you when they leave home and don’t turn their first load of laundry pink.
Cut wear and tear
- Hang up: String an old-fashioned clothesline between two trees. No backyard space? Purchase a folding clothes rack or install a retractable shower clothesline. Drying laundry in fresh air — especially delicates — cuts wear and tear as much as 50 percent and saves energy.
- Zip and button: Open zippers and buttons snag on other clothes during the wash and dry cycles, so zip up zippers and button up buttons before you run them through any laundry cycle.
- Check pockets: Nothing wreaks havoc on a load of clothes like a forgotten lipstick or ballpoint pen. Stash a piggy bank nearby for found money.
- Make repairs: Keep a basic sewing kit near the washer. It’ll help you make quick repairs.
- Resist: Overstuffing the washer and dryer is a route to wrinkles.
- Aerate: Toss a couple of tennis balls in the dryer to increase airflow and keep damp clothes from sticking together.
- Set a timer: Remove clothes from the dryer right after the cycle ends.
- Spritz: Hang permanent-press garments while still slightly damp and let wrinkles fall out naturally. Give them an extra boost with a mist of wrinkle-releasing spray.
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