5 Tips for Using Washer Settings the Right Way

Have you ever wondered what the settings on a washer really mean? You may have avoided turning the dial anywhere other than “Normal” for fear of something unexpected happening to your clothes. But the additional settings offered by washers can make your laundry-washing life easier or provide greater convenience. Here are five tips for understanding the settings on washers so you can use them to get the best results.

A washer’sNormal” setting is best for your sturdiest clothes. It is also best for white clothing rather than clothes with dye that might bleed. Think white towels, sheets, and other garments. This setting uses the highest temperature for hot and warm washes. 

“Permanent Press” is the Goldilocks of washing machines. It uses water at a lower temperature than on a “Normal” cycle, so it is safer for clothes with colors that are prone to leak or fade. It is also shorter than the “Normal” cycle. Permanent Press is still too rough for delicate fabrics, but it is better to use this setting on new clothes, clothes you especially care about, or clothes that you want to last a long time.

As the name suggests, the “Delicate” setting of a washer is best for delicate clothing. You can use this setting for items labeled “hand wash.” Examples include silks, lingerie, and hosiery. The “Delicate” setting keeps water fairly cold to lukewarm, providing the lowest risk of damage from heat. It is also shorter than a Permanent Press cycle, agitating and spinning delicate items less. However, it is important to remember that a washing machine is still a machine, and it will treat your garments more roughly than a human would. You can reduce the risk of damage or wear by placing items in a mesh bag, but it is always safest to hand wash delicate clothing.

The “Fast” or “Short” cycle is a shorter version of the “Normal” cycle. It is best for washing everyday clothing that has only been lightly dirtied. As you might have guessed from the name, the cycle is shorter than others. It is useful if you are in a hurry or simply want to spend less time doing laundry. It should not be used for heavily soiled clothing, such as workout gear, or delicate clothing. One important thing to keep in mind is that the spin cycle is shorter, so heavier fabrics may still come out soaking wet. If that happens, simply put the heavier clothes back in the machine and turn the dial to the spin cycle to remove the rest of the excess water.

The temperature setting is particularly important to use correctly. Hotter water results in cleaner clothes. This is especially important for cleaning synthetic fabrics. Synthetic fabric tends to retain body odors, bacteria, and dirt more strongly and quickly than natural materials. However, hot water is also more likely to cause colors to bleed, and it will cause certain materials—like wool—to shrink. Additionally, hot water can also damage delicate clothing, such as silk garments or clothing with elastic (such as athletic wear).

Although it is always best to check the tags on your clothes for the proper care instructions, there are a few rules of thumb you can follow for temperature settings. Use cold water for dark colors or clothing with dye that is likely to bleed. Use warm water to wash synthetic material, items that are likely to bleed, jeans, and towels. Some knitted garments can tolerate a hot wash, but it is best to use cold water to be safe. Use Hot water for clothing items that are the most heavily soiled, such as cotton socks, underwear, or gardening clothes.


6 Tips for Cleaning Hard-to-Wash Warm Winter Items

As the weather turns colder, you’ve probably switched your wardrobe to include warmer clothing. But many of us are unfamiliar with the best ways to wash staple items as scarves, hats, or gloves. Here are 8 tips for washing these harder-to-wash items to get the best results.

Wash-Warm-Winter-Items. You have probably seen a TV show episode where someone—a child, a well-meaning husband, a teenager learning to help around the house— accidentally shrinks a sweater by putting it in a hot wash cycle. This is one of the few occasions where television is truthful: wool of any kind will shrink if washed in hot water. You should always wash wool sweaters in cold water. For thinner sweaters, it can be helpful to place them in a washing bag to help ensure they are not stretched out or damaged.

Air dry wool. Always air dry wool sweaters rather than put them in a dryer.  If your sweater’s tag says that it can be dried on low heat, it is still safest to air dry it or turn off the heat in your dryer.

Be gentle with scarves. Although it is best to hand wash scarves, you can wash cotton or polyester scarves using your washing machine’s delicate or gentle setting.  Use cold water and use a gentle detergent made specifically for hand-washing clothes. (You can also use shampoo as a substitute.) To ensure your scarves are not damaged by the machine’s agitation, it is safest for you to place them in a mesh bag first. Check the label to determine whether you can machine dry your scarf.

Plan to hand wash knit caps unless the label says otherwise. The care required for knit caps varies greatly depending on the type of yarn used to create it. Always check the label first for specific care instructions and to find out what type of material it is. You can machine wash knit caps with yarn made of cotton, linen, ramie, and superwash wool in cold water. However, ordinary wool should be hand washed. If you are unsure what type of yarn was used to make the cap, it is best to hand wash it.

Air-dry hats flat. When drying knit hats, it is best to avoid hanging them from a line or hanger. This can cause them to lose their shape. Instead, dry each one flat: after the first side has dried, turn it over so the other will dry also. For good measure, you can turn hats inside out after this to ensure they dry completely.

Cold wash thermal underwear and shirts. Providing unparalleled comfort and warmth during colder months, thermals should be washed every 3-5 days. Although hand washing them will make them last longer, you can machine wash them to get them back in action more quickly. Wash cotton and synthetic materials such as polyester in cold water. They can be tossed in the dryer on low heat as well. Woolen thermals can also be machine washed cold, but they should always be air dried rather than exposed to the heat of a dryer. If you must machine dry them, use a setting with no heat.

Tips for Hand Washing Clothes

Tips for Hand Washing Clothes

Some clothes are too delicate to machine wash. Putting them in a washing machine can stretch them out, ruin embroidery, or damage articles in other ways. For example, bathing suits generally need to be hand washed. Some clothes simply last longest when hand-washed, such as wool sweaters or silk blouses.  Either way, it is important to do things the right way in this process to ensure your garments come out clean and undamaged.

Wash similar items together. They should be the same color and the same shade of color. That is, you should avoid mixing dark colors with light colors. If a garment is new, the dye is more likely to bleed and stain other pieces of clothing. It is best to wash new garments individually the first few times until you’re confident the dye won’t leak into the water anymore and ruin other clothes in the wash. Additionally, you should wash the same types of material together: silk with silk, wool with wool, and so on.

Soak items in a basin or bucket for 10-20 minutes. You do not need to leave it to soak longer to “make up for” not machine washing it. However, you should never soak silk clothing for more than 30 minutes, as this can cause it to lose its sheen.

Use a mild detergent rather than regular laundry detergent. You can use gentle hand soap or shampoo to substitute. However, you should never use dish soap, as it is formulated differently. Do not use bleach; it will be too harsh for your clothing.  

Use cool or room temperature water. Unless the label specifies that your clothing can be washed in hot water, it is best to stay on the safe side. If you do use hot water, make sure you don’t use water so hot that it is painful to your hands.

Use gentle motions to move the item around in the water. Avoid scrubbing, twisting, or jerking garments around. You do not need to pretend to be the washing machine. Your goal is to clean your clothes in a gentler manner.

Never squeeze or wring out delicate clothing. That defeats the purpose of hand washing them. Instead, lay the item flat on a towel and roll it up in the towel to remove excess water. To dry the item quickly, repeat this process several times, and use multiple towels. You can also press on it gently when it is rolled up in the towel. The key is to be gentle: don’t press too hard or you can stretch out the fabric.

Air-dry clothing after gently pressing the excess water out of it. Lay it flat on a surface and turn it over once the top side is dry. Alternatively, you can hang it on a rack or clothing line. Do not put delicate clothing in a dryer unless the label specifically says that you can. Typically, garments that are too delicate to be machine washed cannot handle being machine dried either.

Washing Winter Coats

8 Tips for Washing Winter Coats the Right Way

When was the last time you washed your winter coats and jackets? For many people, the answer is “never.” But it is important to wash larger coats twice a season and wash lighter jackets after every 6-7 uses. Even if they don’t have visible stains on the outside from puddles, snowdrifts, or other elements, they still pick up sweat, dirt, and skin particles that build up over time. Failing to clean them can make them more attractive to moths, cause itchiness, or even lead to rashes. Here are a few tips for cleaning your coats so you can keep them fresh and comfortable without damaging them in the process.

Follow the instructions on the tag. While there are many general best practices, it is important to check the tags on your coats for any special washing instructions. This helps ensure that you place them in the right temperature, cycle, and drying heat for each coat, reducing the risk of causing damage during the cleaning process.

Wash similar types of material together. Wash wool with wool, fleece with fleece, puffer coats with puffer coats, and so on. Mixing material types can lead to damage from rougher coats rubbing against more delicate ones.

Tie up loose ends. Zip up each coat completely before placing it in the washer. The jagged teeth of the zipper can damage other areas of the coat if left loose. They can also damage other coats in the wash. Be sure to secure any zippered inner or outer pockets as well. If your coat has buttons rather than zippers, be sure to fasten them before washing it. This helps keep the coat from losing its shape during the cycle. 

Treat stains before washing. Stains usually need to be treated with detergent or a special prewash solution before the coat is placed in the washer, especially if the stain has been allowed to sit for a long period of time. You may also need to use different treatments depending on what created the stain. (See our post on Tips for Removing Difficult Stains for more on this.) 

Wash wool coats and jackets by hand. Machine washing them can cause them to wear out much more quickly or shrink. If you do choose to put them in the washer, you must be very careful. Wash them in cold water on a delicate cycle. You will also need to use a detergent specifically made for cleaning wool garments to make sure it doesn’t damage the material. 

Although natural and knitted wool can be washed at home, it is important to note that some wool coats have inner linings that cannot be hand washed or machine washed. In these cases, the coat must be dry cleaned instead. Again, this is why it is important to check the tag for cleaning instructions for your particular coat before washing it. 

The machine washes fleece in cold water and uses a delicate or permanent press setting. Turn coats and jackets inside out before washing. Remember to zip or button them up to help them keep their shape during the cycle. Do not wash fleece with lint-prone items like towels or most types of cotton clothing. Fleece attracts lint like a magnet, so washing it with lint-producing material will cause a lot of work for you later. You should air dry fleece coats to get the best results. However, you can also put them in the dryer on low heat as long as you take them out before they are completely dry. 

Dry clean fur coats and leather jackets. These are typically not designed to be machine washed or even washed by hand. Never wash them at home. In particular, natural fur coats typically need professional attention and care by someone who knows how to clean hides without drying them out or causing the fur to shed.

Machine wash puffer coats in cold water. Do not use regular detergent: use detergent specifically made for washing down, or use another cleaning agent. Normal detergent flattens feathers, which can permanently reduce the warmth and fluffiness of your coat. Machine dry puffer coats on low heat. Toss in a few wool dryer balls, or 2-3 clean tennis balls, to help fluff up the coat while it is drying and make sure the filling is even in each section of the coat. You can take the coat out of the dryer a couple of times to check for clumps of filling and knead them with your hands to break them up. Ensure it is completely dry before taking it out to hang in a closet or on a rack.

Tips for Removing Difficult Stains

5 Tips for Removing Difficult Stains

Have you ever had to throw away a favorite shirt because of a stain that wouldn’t come out no matter how many times you washed it? Accidents happen, but they don’t have to spell the end for your best garments. Here are some tips for removing common types of stains to keep your clothes in great condition and help ensure they last a long time.

Wash stained clothes as soon as possible. The longer a stain is left on a piece of clothing, the more it sets into the fabric and the more difficult it will be to remove. If you wash your clothes before the stain dries, or at least the same day, there is a much greater chance it will come out easily. It is best not to set it aside to wait for laundry day.

Treat grass stains with cold water and detergent before washing. Soak your garment in cold water for a few minutes, then apply a little laundry detergent and use a paper towel or cloth to rub the stain off. It may take a few tries before the stain is removed completely. If this fails, you can try a stronger cleaning agent such as white vinegar. Grass stains can be particularly difficult to remove from jeans. Start by dousing the stained area with rubbing alcohol. After it dries, rinse it with cold water. Dab a little detergent on the stain and scrub it gently for several minutes with a cloth or paper towel. Rinse the area again, then machine wash your jeans as usual. The stain should disappear, leaving your jeans as good as new.

Clean white socks regularly.  White socks pick up dust and dirt that sets in over time, turning the bottom a dull gray color that persists no matter how many times you wash them. Fortunately, there are a few ways to restore your socks to their original brightness. Treat them with a stain remover before putting them in the washing machine. Follow the instructions the product comes with: you may need to leave the stain remover in for a certain amount of time before placing it in the washer, or you may even have to soak it in a solution of stain remover and water. If you prefer home remedies without strong chemicals, soak your socks in a mixture of 1 cup of lemon juice and 4 cups of water. The weak acid in the lemon juice helps draw the dirt out of the fabric and also acts as a natural fabric softener.

Remove tomato-based stains with cold water and an appropriate agent. Ketchup and tomato sauce are two of the most common stains. First, remove any residue by wiping it away. If the sauce is still wet, blot the stain with a wet paper towel or sponge. Soak it in cold water for five minutes, and then rub the stained area with laundry detergent. Next, apply hydrogen peroxide to the stain. Wash it in the highest temperature the fabric can comfortably handle, and your clothes should come out stain-free.

Take stained clothes to the cleaners. Cleaning professionals have years of experience removing stains, so they have the greatest chance of success saving your clothes. Make sure you tell the staff what caused the stains so they can use the appropriate treatments and get the best possible results. If you do not have time to take your clothes to a laundromat, inquire to see if they offer drop-off or delivery services.

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