We could all stand to get our clothes a little cleaner. And if you have kids at home, you want to do everything you can to ensure those spills don’t end up turning into permanent stains. If you want cleaner laundry overall, better stain removal — even lower energy bills — here are some tips that will help you achieve all three.
1. Soak Spills Right Away
Whatever has been spilled on your favorite pants or your daughter’s favorite shirt, you can’t go wrong with soaking that stain, immediately. If you let a spill dry, it’ll be much harder to get the stain out. Just soak the item in a bucket of water with a little bit of your detergent until you can get to it. Generally speaking, you should let any stain soak before treating it with other methods.
2. Sort Properly
You may have been taught that laundry sorting is all about whites, darks, and delicates. While there is truth to that, your clothes will be cleaned more efficiently in your washing machine if you sort them not just by color, but by fabric. After sorting by whites, light colors, dark colors, bright colors, and delicates, separate things further. You want a pile for fibrous fabrics like towels and flannel, one for sweatshirts and corduroys, another for smooth fabrics like rayon or polyester, and yet another for permanent press items, like dress shirts.
3. Add Detergent First
If you put detergent or other laundry agents right into your washing machine’s drum, always put it in first. Let it dissolve and mix with the water as your machine begins to fill. It’ll clean more effectively and leave less residue.
4. Boost Every Load
Washing soda and borax are cheap and will boost the cleaning power of your machine and detergent. They’ll help whiten, soften, and deodorize. You can even use both in every load (about 1/2 cup of each). Just make sure there are no clumps to keep them from doing their job.
5. Wash in Cold
Most of the energy used for doing laundry in conventional washing machines isn’t even used by the machine itself — it’s heating the water. Cold water will still get your clothes clean. In fact, warm water can tend to make colors bleed.