I'm no expert at laundry, by any means. However, I am a bit type-A about how I care for our clothes, and friends who know of these tendencies sometimes ask for help with stains, or advice on the best way to care for a particular item. I've learned a few tricks of the trade from my mom, who does know a lot about laundry. My wonderful mother-in-law, Karen, has some great tips, as well! Since I consider them both to be excellent sources of information, I spoke to both of them and pooled the collective knowledge here, in a post all about the best way to care for clothes.
- Pretreat: apply cold water immediately to stains from fruit juice, chocolate, or tomato products. "Sooner is better!" (my mom)
- Use Goo Gone for stubborn grease stains. "It works better to lightly spray it and feather the edges. For butter or oil or salad dressing spills, especially on dark-colored clothes." (my mom)
- "Pre soak stains with a dish soap in cold water." (Karen)
- "I spray collars of dress shirts with Shout laundry stain remover [to prevent discoloration]." (Karen)
- "I wash all activewear, whites, towels, and sheets in hot water [to better neutralize odors]" (Karen)
- Use cold water for jeans, wool socks, and items prone to shrinking
- For all other items, I use cool or lukewarm water
- Use mesh lingerie bags (like these) for delicate items, strappy tops, snag-prone material, washable wool socks, or other delicates.
- Air dry wool socks and quick-dry garments
- Partially dry items on low, then hang and allow to dry completely
- Zip all zippers before washing jeans, pants, or hoodies. If left unzipped, they can snag other, more delicate items
- Wash like with like: "I wash all dressy clothes together on a gentle cycle, and jeans, sweatshirts and heavy clothes together." (Karen) and if an item is prone to bleed dye, wash it by itself, or with other very similar colors
- Unbutton button-up shirts to avoid excess wear-and-tear on the button holes/stitching
- "Hand wash" items are sometimes okay to wash on gentle cycle in a lingerie bag, but when in doubt (or if the item is beloved) hand wash it
Think about what you buy:
- Read clothing care instructions, as every store-bought clothing item should have a care tag with recommendations. If it says "delicate," that's a safe bet for how to wash it
- I rarely buy wrinkle-prone clothing (for Nicholas or myself, because I do not enjoy ironing)
- Apart from my wedding dress and Nicholas' suits, I don't buy "dry-clean only" items, since dry cleaning is not something I want to incorporate into my laundry routine on a regular basis.
(My) favorite products:
- Laundry detergent without excessive dyes for washing nearly all our clothes. Although I'm not brand-loyal, I like Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyer's, and Method.
- Eucalan fine fabric wash, lavender-scented, for washing hand knits. Can also be used for delicates and other hand-washing. I love that it's a no-rinse formula.
- Mrs. Meyer's scent boosters, added to the washing machine cycle for a little extra freshness
- Mrs. Meyer's dryer sheets
Why is matters (to me)
- When purchasing clothing, I try to choose quality items that I will want to wear for years, hopefully. But any item of clothing, no matter the quality, will last longer if it's well-cared-for.
- I want to be a good steward of what I've been blessed with, and if I care for the items I own, it means I'm buying less, accumulating less, and ultimately, wasting less.
Thanks, mom and Karen for sharing your best information! I know I appreciate all the help I can get. :) Happy washing, friends!
Do you have any other go-to laundry tips? I'm always interested in learning more!