If you’ve ever done your laundry and had everything smell like mold and mildew, if you’ve ever shrunk your favorite sweater, or if you forgot to take that ChapStick out of your pocket before starting a cycle, you know that feeling of pure disappointment that comes with knowing that you have two options: throw away an otherwise perfectly good load of clothes, or walk around smelling like a damp towel/in a too small sweater/with weird stains covering your clothes. Neither option is great. Fortunately, thanks to these handy dandy tips, you now have a third option: to rewash your clothes, but this time with a few extra ingredients.
These 8 laundry hacks can save your day! Get rid of that mildew smell, make ink stains disappear and even unshrink a sweater with these 8 tried and true magical laundry tips:
1. Wash your washing machine to get rid of that funky smell.
I bet you didn’t know that you would need to wash your washing machine every once in a while, did you? Heck, I didn’t know that until now! (I’m taking notes, too.) Front loaders and HE washing machines save on water and electricity, but the tradeoff is that detergents and fabric softeners build up in the washer. If they are allowed to build up too much, they begin to smell. You can eliminate this problem with one cheap ingredient you probably already have on hand: vinegar. Run a hot load with some vinegar, clean the dispenser tray, the door and the seals, and voila! Problem be gone!
2. Remove the ink!
It happens to the best of us: we throw our clothes in the wash without checking the pockets. If there was a pen in one of your pockets, and if it exploded in your dryer, you risk ruining the next batch of clothes, and the next one after that. One blogger tested several different methods for removing ink stains from the dryer’s walls before landing on one that worked. All you need to do is scrub the ink stains with Soft Scrub, or take acetone nail polish remover and wipe those ink blotches away. Wipe with soap and water afterward to get rid of the chemicals and your dryer is ready for the next load.
3. Keep your towels from smelling like mildew.
Towels are the biggest culprit for those gross mildew smells. If your towels smell like mold even after they’ve been through the wash cycle, it may be because the towels themselves have a build up of detergent and fabric softener. This can happen when towels are allowed to sit damp for too long. Fortunately, the solution is simple: wash those smelly towels with one cup of vinegar, and if they still smell after that, add 1/2 cup of baking soda. The process strips the build-up and leaves towels smelling fresh and clean again.
4. Unshrink a sweater.
I don’t know about you, but shrinking a favorite sweater is up there with finding out that there is no coffee left or remember to thaw the meat for dinner at approximately 4:55 pm: it sucks. Thanks to this handy tip, however, I may just be able to save all those shrunken sweaters after all, and you can save all of yours, too! First, soak the itty-bitty-sweater in warm water and two tablespoons of baby shampoo. Gently rinse in cool water and press out the excess water. Next, roll your sweater up in a towel to get it as dry as possible. Now it’s time to stretch it back to normal size. Gently pull at the sweater and then pin it down to an ironing board or another stiff surface. Restretch in this manner every few hours until it’s back to its original size.
5. Fix a Chapstick Mistake
Just like leaving a pen in your pocket when you throw your clothes into the wash, leaving a tube of ChapStick is equally devastating. Fortunately, there is a way to fix your washing machine, dryer and your clothes. First wipe down your washer and dryer to rid them of residualChapStick. Next, soak your stained clothes in an enzyme-based stain remover or laundry soap. If the ChapStick was colored, you may need to use an oxygen-based stain remover. Once you’ve soaked your clothes, wash as normal. If there are still hints of stain, repeat the process.
6. Reduce fading.
I don’t know about you, but I’m terrified to wash my black jeans, as the last time I did they faded to an 80’s-jean-gray, which is a very unflattering jean color if you ask me. If you want to preserve the color of your clothing, and if those “color-stay” detergents aren’t doing the trick, try this hack: reduce the water temperature. Chances are that you’re washing your clothes on the preset settings, which are either very hot or just hot. Hot water causes clothes to fade much more quickly than they would otherwise. By reducing the temperature to cold, you can reduce fading and even help your clothes last longer.
7. Get rid of armpit stains.
I don’t wear white shirts because of the gross pit stains that eventually build up, but now that I know this hack, I might just run out and buy a few white-tees once I’m done writing this! To get rid of pit stains and deodorant build up, apply a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda to the stained area and let it sit for an hour. Wash as normal, and voila! You no longer have to be afraid of raising your arms in public!
8. Get rid of wrinkles (without having to iron).
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If you’re like most people I know, you don’t own an iron. Yet, that doesn’t mean you don’t get wrinkles in your clothes every now and then. If you’ve just pulled your favorite outfit from the laundry pile that’s been sitting, unfolded, on the foot of your bed for the past three weeks, and if it’s wrinkled beyond wear, don’t panic just yet–you may not have to pick out another outfit after all! Throw the wrinkled garments into the dryer, toss in an ice-cube or two, and press start. Wait ten minutes, and then remove your clothes. They’ll be wrinkle free and ready to wear!
If you throw in a dryer sheet with that ice-cube, you can get away with not washing an outfit after a single wear. The ice-cube will de-wrinkle while the dryer sheet will have your dirty clothes smelling as clean and fresh as a summer’s day.
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