BY: Taylor Armstead
Growing up, I helped out with all of the normal household chores and duties such as cooking, doing dishes, gardening, laundry, you name it. With that as my background, I was shocked when I went to college and found out that a friend of mine was making money doing other people’s laundry simply because they didn’t know how to do it themselves! For $20 a person, she’d pick up their laundry, take it to the laundry room, and even fold it for them. Probably a good amount of that money went to the cost of the machines themselves, but that’s still a pretty substantial profit for a pretty simple task.
Even if you do know the basics of doing laundry, every once in awhile we are all in need of a quick Google search or a phone call to Mom when a particularly tough stain or confusing washing instruction arises. So I figured I'd compile a quick and dirty list on laundry's most common problems so you can become an expert (and maybe even make a profit off of laundry yourself).
I played rugby in college and frequently ended up taking the jerseys home to wash them. Mud, grass, and even blood stains were abundant on these jerseys. There’s a way to tackle just about any stain, and there are plenty of charts and guides that are easy to print with suggestions on how to remove each one. This website will allow you to download a guide to hang next to your washer for references, while Wellness Mama focuses on natural (rather than chemical) methods of stain removal. Either way, a good rule of thumb is to pre-treat stains and take care of them as soon as possible to avoid them setting in to the fabric.
Items shrinking in the wash
Do you have a sweater or two that you accidentally shrunk and haven’t been able to wear ever since?
The best way to un-shrink any garment is the following:
Sometimes this method doesn't work, but it's always worth a try!
A few easy steps can make towels more absorbent and longer lasting.
For general washing, substitute half of your normal detergent for vinegar, which helps with stripping detergent off the towels. Alternatively, vinegar can just be used every few loads in lieu of detergent. For any of these methods, the detergent/vinegar can be put in the detergent dish if using a front-loading HE washer. This could also help flush out those lines if they have a large amount of detergent build-up as well. Lastly, be cautious of any makeup left on towels: these should be pre-treated first, as it can easily stain the towels.
With an increasing number of people experiencing allergic reactions to detergents, it’s important to be conscientious of what is in these products. Additionally, although many brands are offering an “eco-friendly” detergent, they might not be quite as environmentally friendly as they claim. A do-it-yourself alternative to buying detergent can satisfy both of these needs, as well as save money. Here are two recipes for laundry detergent, one borax-free, and one with borax.
Cleaning your washer and dryer
Lastly, don’t forget that your washer and dryer needs to be regularly cleaned too! Cleaning tablets can be purchased at a local store for the washer, or a combination of vinegar and baking soda can be used.
For front loading washers, mix the baking soda with water and use as a detergent, and put the vinegar in the drum before running the washer on the hottest setting. Another alternative is to run an empty load with hot water and bleach, and then to run a second load with vinegar (do not mix bleach and vinegar!). Leaving the washer machine door open after use helps prolong the cleanliness of the machine, as it allows it to dry properly in between uses.
For dryers: an easy way to clean the lint filter slot is by either vacuuming it out using the vacuum's detachable hose, or by using a lint brush. Do not forget to clean the lint filter after every use! Many house fires are started by the failure to do so, despite the task being an easy and quick one!
Doing laundry for just one person
Oftentimes, I find myself needing to do laundry after a week because I need to clean my workout clothes or jeans. The problem that emerges is I don’t have enough of one “properly sorted” load to run, except for dark clothes. To compensate for this, I run a light load every week and a half to two weeks, and I wash dark clothes every week. If I only have 1-2 lighter items that need to be washed or I have new clothes, I use a Shout Color Catcher. They appear similar to a dryer sheet, but are put in the washer and soak up colors that would otherwise stain your clothes.