It’s Tuesday and I’m still facing a big pile of laundry that accrued over a busy weekend. If you’re also facing a mountain of laundry today, here are a few tips to help you conquer that mountain with great results while spending less.
Laundry Tips for Cleaner Clothes
Fill ‘er Up! First off, if you have a top-loading washer, fill up the washer with water first before adding detergent and clothing.This way, the detergent will dissolve evenly and clothing can rinse properly.
Oops I Forgot: We’ve all done it. We ran the washer and then forgot to move the completed batch from the washer to the dryer and were later greeted by a foul smell. To get rid of the bad odor, run the load again with a half cup of baking soda along with your normal detergent. Baking soda is an inexpensive but very effective way to neutralize odors AND “activate” or give a boost to your laundry detergent.
Good-bye to Stains: Create a powerful stain remover by mixing 3 parts baking soda with one part water to form a “paste”. Rub the paste directly onto the stain and allow the stained garment to sit for an hour. This paste even works on oil and grease stains. For blood stains, mix one part baking soda to two parts cold water in a bowl. Dip a white cloth into the mixture and then apply it to the blood-stained area. Allow the mixture to remain on the stain for 30 minutes before washing.
Tougher than Tough: Ok, sometimes there are stains that WILL NOT BUDGE! Getting grass and dirt stains out of my son’s baseball pants was proving to be one of those battles that I couldn’t win. A friend suggested that I use super strength “Greased Lightening” (yes, the multi-purpose cleaner and degreaser). It worked! I’ve since learned that it can successfully get out lipstick stains, baby food stains, ink and more.
Pre-Soak is Paramount: Pre-soaking heavily soiled laundry before washing can make a huge difference in getting the clothes REALLY clean. Pre-soaking helps the stains to come lose and be removed more easily. Simply fill your washing machine, bucket or tub with warm water and then add your detergent and clothes. Allow the items to soak overnight for optimal results.
Tips for Lowering the Costs of Doing Laundry
Detergent, water and energy usage are the main costs in doing laundry. So let’s tackle these one by one.
Scale Back on Detergents: First of all, read the labels. Most of us have 2X and even 6X laundry products on our shelves. When we routinely fill up the detergent measuring cup for each load (without reading the packaging label) we’re throwing money down the drain. Consider having a couple of different products on the shelf. A less expensive product for everyday washing and a higher concentration detergent with stain removal for very soiled clothing or those stinky towels.
Use Less Water: Let the clothes in the hamper stack up! Washing with full loads not only saves on electricity and detergent, but can also save on water. After all, regardless of the batch size, we tend to use about the same amount of water, soap and energy.
Don’t Stuff the Dryer: In our attempts to speed up the laundry process, we sometimes become impatient and try to stuff as much as we can into the dryer! An overstuffed dryer actually takes longer…You’re better off running two smaller batches through the dryer..
Wear it again! My sons often throw their jeans into the laundry hamper after just one wear. I’ve been trying to help them understand that unless we’re doing strenuous labor or working out, most of our clothes can be worn multiple times before laundering. (Some cringe at this thought, but it is true).
Cut Energy Costs: Wash with cold water! 90 percent of the energy used in washing clothes goes to heat the water! Some laundry items (like gym clothes and towels) need hot water in order to sanitize. But the truth is, most items we’re washing are fine being washed with cold water. Even switching to warm water will save on energy usage. Check out this site to get an idea how much you’re currently spending and how much you can save by lowering your laundry temps.
For my family, the absolute best way we were able to reduce laundry-related costs in our household was by having a water softener/conditioner installed. If you’re washing your laundry with hard water (and 85% of homes in the US have hard water), here are a few things to consider:
Softened water requires less energy. Think of hard mineral deposits slowly caking the bottom of your water heater—making it so that the unit has to work extra hard just to transfer heat to the water! For many, installing a water softener ends up saving the household A LOT of money. The Battelle Institute research found that when gas water heaters (the second highest energy-using appliance in most households) were operated with soft water, they managed to maintain 100 percent efficiency over their simulated 15-year lifespan. On the other hand, water heaters operating with hard water saw a 25-48 percent loss of efficiency- an incredible loss in energy, resulting in significantly higher costs. In the case of instant tankless water heaters, hard water caused them to entirely fail to function because of scale or mineral build-up associated with hard water after only 1.6 years of simulated use (about a tenth the normal life of the appliance).
Wash with cooler water with even better results. That same study found that with softened water, “Washing can be carried out in 60ºF cold water instead of 100ºF hot water, and yet still achieve the same or better stain removal and yield whiter clothes.”
Cut in Half. If you’re washing with softened water, you can cut back on the amount of detergent you’re using by about 50 percent! Another factoid from the study: “The fact that softened water combined with the least amount of detergent and lowest temperature provided the highest degree of whiteness compared to increased hardness with the highest level of detergent and temperature is a noteworthy finding.”
Best for Stain Removal. In testing laundry stain removal, researchers found that the most important factor in removing stains was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water.
And the list goes on–did you know that if you have a family member who suffers from eczima, laundering clothes with softened water can do a world of good in removing the minerals and detergent the surface of bedding and clothing? If left behind, they are often the culprits for irritating the skin.
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