Take Care of your Dirty Laundry: Tips for washing clothes, removing stains

Tips for getting rid of your dirty laundry
Laundry on college campusUnless you want your clothes to get really funky — and we’re not talking about fashion here — you have to do laundry on a regular basis. Your friends and neighbors will all be a lot happier if you do. If you’ve never done your own before, or if you need a brush-up on good techniques, here are the basics you need to know to do laundry right.

Keep ’em separated
You probably know that your bright reds can’t go in the washing machine with your white undershirts — but in case you don’t, here’s the first thing you need to know about doing laundry: separate your clothes according to color.

Sarah Grubb, a senior from Lindenwood University in Missouri says she separates her reds from the lights (whites, yellows) and darks (blacks, dark blues). Reds are more likely than any other colors to invade clothes of other colors.

Another important group to separate from your general laundry pile are clothes that need to be dry-cleaned. “Separate your dry-cleaning by looking at the tags,” says laundry expert Vicki McDonald (okay, she’s my mom, but did my laundry for a long time). If you don’t separate the dry clean only stuff, “Your clothes will be destroyed; they will crumple up and fall apart,” she says.

You can also separate by water temperature. Whites go in hot water, dark heavy clothes like jeans go in warm, and your nice blouses and button-up shirts should go in cold.

Washing MachineDrying off
While you may think throwing as many clothes as possible in the dryer saves money, don’t fall into this trap. You might end up hurting your duds, and you’ll probably have to dry them again. Most washing machines tell you one washer load equals one dryer load, but keep in mind that one too-full washer load is a too-full dryer load., gives you a couple tips: “Shorten drying time by doing one load immediately after the other,” says Janet Sobesky, an editor with Woman’s Day Magazine.The dryer will already be hot when the second load goes in.”

To reduce wrinkling, Sobesky adds, load the dryer no more than half-full. And even though it’s nasty, roll up your sleeves and grout out the lint trap, which is right inside the dryer door. Do it before every dryer load because your clothes won’t get as dry if the lint trap is full.

Choose your weapon
Picking detergent and fabric softener is overwhelming — there are a lot of choices. Mom recommends Wisk for stain removal. (Don’t forget to soak your clothes to eradicate stains before you put them in the washer, and especially if they’re delicate, wash them by hand.) You also must choose between powder and liquid detergents, but really it’s a matter of personal preference and budget. If you look on the back of the product, you may gain more insight as to what would be best for a particular fabric. Fabric softeners will make you clothes smell fresher, and of course, make them softer. They will also help take the static out of your clothes, which can be especially problematic in cold winter weather. Mom recommends Downy.

More on Stains
Woman’s Day reminds you when removing stains to put the stain side of the garment face down on a clean paper towel, and apply the stain remover to the garment’s backside. Also, “force the stain off, not through, the fabric,” says Janet Donohue, a spokesperson for the Soap and Detergent Association. Stain removal is about the most difficult you’ll have to master, so don’t be scared of laundry. Just do it — and do it often.

Save Money: How to make the trip to the laundry room a bit cheaper

All those quarters can really add up. Here are a few ideas to make your trip to the laundry room a little cheaper. 1. Don’t pile as many clothes as possible into one dryer to save quarters. You’ll just have to dry twice.

2. Watch your clothes. You never know who’s lurking around the dryers waiting to add to their wardrobe.

3. Bring laundry supplies from home. Don’t buy them in the laundry room — it’s usually a dollar for one load’s worth of soap.

4. Do research on how to remove specific types of tough stains so you won’t have to replace your ruined clothes.

5. Line dry if you have a clothesline to save on dryers.

6. Buy cheap detergents and fabric softeners.

7. Use fabric softener sheets more than once.

Image courtesy: muhlenberg.edu