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Laundry Tips

  • Take grease off suede. Dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently brush over  grease spot.
  • Remove tough stains. Gently rub vinegar on fruit, jam, mustard, coffee, and tea.  Then wash as usual.
  • Brighten fabric colors. Add a 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Keep colors from running. Immerse clothes in full strength vinegar  before washing.
  • Get rid of lint in clothes. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  • Freshen up the washing machine. Periodically, pour a cup of vinegar in the machine and let     in  run through a regular cycle (no clothes added). Will dissolve soap residue.
  • Get smoke smell out of clothes. Add a cup of vinegar to a bath tub of  hot water. Hang clothes above the steam

Ways that you have helped "The Balanced Woman" readers.  A reader wrote:

  • Hello...I recently had gum in my dryer and I read the tips you have in order to remove gum on your site. I have since discovered a new one and felt you may want to include it on your website.

Wet a fabric softener sheet and wipe at the gum in your dryer and you will discover with hardly any effort at all the gum amazingly disappears. The great thing about it too is it smells nice and there is no messy clean up after you are finished.

I just wanted to pass along my recent discovery and thought maybe you could include it on your website. Thanks

  • "I have ruined so many tops by getting cooking oil down the front, either by cooking or eating. Please tell me what to use to get it out so I don't have to throw them away. thanks, California"  To see YOUR answers please click on the following URL:


Submitted by YOU, our subscribers! 

I went to my mother, the laundry expert with this question.  She said that she uses 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax in addition to her regular laundry product.  Her whites are "white", believe me.  She also hangs her clothes outside when the weather is nice and that helps too.  She said that my grandmother would place a dingy or spotted white item on the lawn on a bright sunny day to "whiten" it.  Mom said that worked great.  Sometimes she would have to wash the item again if soil or dirt got on it, but it regained it whiteness.  Joanne 

Try Mrs. Stewart's liquid bluing-instructions on the label, found in most grocery stores near the stain removal section.  It actually adds an almost imperceptible blue tinge to whites-so the eye "sees" a brighter white.  -- 

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Since I have a baby, nappy wash always works for me and I always white with whites only.  Another trick if you live in a cold regions is leave your whites on the line outside on a frosty night.  When I lived in Canberra, Australia, There was great debate about this method and why it worked.  Something about freezing the stain or frozen water expanding the fibers.  You could probably achieve the same result by sticking it in the freezer.  I alas have not tried it.  Leona 

The best way to clean whites?  This will sound like an advertisement but the best way is Amway's SA8 Concentrated Detergent and SA8 Solutions Chlorine Bleach.  Besides being a plug for my business it's the truth.  There are independent studies and forty years experience backing it up. 

Do *not* include cleaning rags in any of your wash loads, not matter what color the rags are.  They should be washed separately because the chemicals used may not be completely rinsed out. 

Better yet, save old clothes (underwear, T-shirts, socks, towels, and other soft absorbent material); cut them up to use as cleaning rags.  Clean With them and then throw them out!  Less laundry.  No icky chemicals and Dirt mingling with your laundry.  Your white, colored, or dark laundry will Last longer, look better; and it will probably be easier on your skin, your washer, and the environment. 

After many years this is what has worked for me.  I wash my new whites alone.  I call them "good whites."  I don't use bleach.  As they get older and have had more "dirty" use, they go with my "regular whites" and get bleached.  Regular whites are never as white as good whites.  Don't know why. 
 (doing laundry for 49 years) 

Hi!   A couple of suggestions for keeping whites well, whiter.  Use a few tablespoons of salt in your clothes washer when doing laundry, or anytime you are hand washing, add a tablespoon into water.  Also, hydrogen peroxide is gentler on fabric than is bleach, although not by much.  If you are not washing your white clothes with white clothes ONLY, this may have an effect.  Never hang your whites outside.  Sun has a natural bleaching property, but the quality of today's air leaves much to be desired (and also leaves dirt on your clothes).  This is a good point if you also have allergies.  Hope this helps or at least contributes something that is not typical.  Jody 

Years ago I used a product called Calgonite to whiten my clothes.  Today, I use Amway laundry products, and they have one called Smashing White that REALLY whitens and brightens my wash.  I think the similarity is to get a product that softens the water, which allows all the soap to be rinsed from the clothes.  That residue is what is causing the yellowing and dinginess.  It usually takes 2 or 3 washings to get the final results from older clothes.  B. Carter 

Wash all white clothes separately, and set up two loads, one for light-to medium-dirty whites, and the second for very dirty whites.  Pre-rinse with cold water.  Use good detergent with "bleach alternative" (I find Tide the best).  Use warm water for wash cycle (or hot water if your water heater temperature is low and you have pre-rinsed with cold water).  If your cold water is really cold (wintertime), use warm water for the rinse cycles.  Give the load an extra final cold or warm rinse, depending on water temperature.  I rarely use bleach, and white clothes stay white.  However, trying to revive clothes which have been allowed to become a dingy white is probably a lost cause, especially if they have been through the dryer (which can "set" unremoved dirt and cause the clothes to become permanently dingy).  They will look better and a little brighter, but results won't be optimal.  You may want to try hanging the dingy clothes on the clothesline all day on a sunny day after you have re-washed them. 

The problem with your whites is probably hard water.  Go to a hardware store and get a product called "rust out"(or some other product which is to remove hard water stains) and follow the directions, see if that doesn't whiten things up again.  After that, use calgon water softener in your wash to prevent the dinginess 

Fabric Whitener 
1/3 cup powdered dishwasher soap 
1/2 cup powdered all fabric bleach (something like Clorox 2 but I have 
Used store brands with similar results) 
Mix with 1-gallon hot water and soak clothes in solution over night 
Then wash in as usual 
This will remove most stains and brighten whites. 

I'd suggest putting some borax in each washload, and CUT DOWN ON THE USE OF SOAP.  Most of the reason we have dingy clothes is that our washing machines don't do a very good job of rinsing our clothes because we generally use about 4 TIMES more soap than we need.  Try it and see!  The dinginess is caused by the soap adhering to the fabric. 

I read an article in a book that is a compilation of articles from the Amish "Plain Reader" magazine.  In fact the book may also be called "Plain Reader."  The author suggests that most of us outsiders use way too much soap, where in fact we could do without any soap in many instances where our clothes are lightly worn.  Instead, he suggests (yes, I seem to recall it was a "he") that we pre-soak our clothes, preferably overnight in plain water, without soap, then run them through the washer. 

Once I read the article (about a year or so ago) I began implementing the ideas with remarkable results.  I cut down to about 1/4 cup of soap for a full washload, and let the clothes soak overnight.  They came out very clean and smelling very fresh.  For my husband's muddy and greasy clothing the same thing works - a good overnight soak and they don't need that much soap. 

I've recently switched to a front-loading washing machine.  They have longer cycles, but when I was visiting a friend in Cyprus I noticed how white my white clothes came out after being in her machine - just after one wash.  It was the longer cycle, and the non-sudsing soap of the front-end loaders.  They use barely a spit of water - yet the clothes come out way cleaner!  There are some North American models on the market which have shorter cycles for us "faster is better" folks.  I got one of those and I don't recommend it.  If you're getting a front-end loader get something like AEG or Miehle, and begin to learn some patience.  The machines also hold less, but your laundry will last longer, your water consumption will drop drastically and your clothing, linens, etc. will come out brighter and cleaner.  Janina 

We keep whites white by using Tide, Borax and bleach recommended by the garment manufacturer.  Some whites are not meant to be bleached with Clorox type bleach.  Also a good overnight soak in a bucket w/the Tide (I swear I don't work for them) and hang dry if possible (not the underwear)!  We also have city water and that makes a difference.  When I was at home w/my mom she had well water and well, nothing really helps that except a trip to the Laundromat!  Corinne 

Try using 1/2 cup baking soda in a "first rinse" before you wash your whites, then also add 1/4 cup baking soda to the wash cycle.  It may take several rinses to bring out the white.  We have very hard water in our area and I do this as a regular routine to keep clothes white. 

Every couple of weeks I put water in my washing machine that I have heated on the stove (not a rolling boil but very hot).  I put in enough water to more than cover what clothes I am "whitening".  To that water I add 1 1/2 cup Clorox bleach and 1 1/2 cups of cascade automatic dishwasher soap.  Agitate a couple of minutes and add clothes.  Go to bed.....  (the fun/easy part).  In the am I turn washer on with HOT wash/COLD rinse, add regular amount of detergent and wash.  I had children who were athletes (and didn't like shoes/sneakers to cover their sox) and did a load of sox about once a week when they lived home.  Good Luck! 

1. Hang clothes outside in the bright sun to dry - a natural bleaching effect 2.  Install a water filter or neutralizer - maybe something in the water is causing the grayness 3.  Check that inside of washer or dryer tubs aren't worn or don't have something on them causing graying whites. 

A 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax (found with the laundry items at the store) added to your wash cycle will keep whites looking fresh.  This tip was passed on to me from my 84 year old Mom who used it to whiten cloth diapers some 55-60 years ago when my older siblings were babies. 

About those white clothes.  I still use a trick my beloved mother-in-law taught me years ago.  Dingy whites can be from detergent not being completely rinsed out of the clothes.  It can happen no matter what detergent - or how much bleach - is used.  A cup of white vinegar in the rinse water will take care of that little problem.  There is no residual scent of vinegar since the fabric softeners take it right out.  Voila!  Whites stay white jl 




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