Your Dirty Laundry Cleaning Tips

Now that the kids have returned to school this fall, have you noticed the plethora of laundry commercials? There are SO many additives, detergents, laundry softeners and types of washing machines out there, no wonder I get questions “How do I wash my clothes?”

It still goes back to the 3 basic principles of washing clothes

1 – water. The hotter the water the cleaner the clothes. But some fabrics can’t handle the heat or water.

2 – Detergent. Follow the directions on the container. The companies did the research and they state how much to use to get the best performance out of their product. A word to the wise, less deterrent leaves in dirt which wears out the fibers in your clothing faster. You do the $ math.

3. Agitation. You need to get the water and detergent moving through the fabric to remove the dirt. Nothing soaks clean.

I studied laundry care in my college Textile course and have had experts in the field; interior designers, dry cleaners, and home economists lecture my students and myself how to care for fabrics.


Stain removing additives and fabric softeners in detergents add to the cost of detergents. Do you need all those cleaning additives? Do you have grass stains in your clothes? Buy your stain removers separately.


Bleach is used for disinfecting. A product only needs 5% bleach in their formula to state it disinfects. And do you need to disinfect all your clothes?

Bleach removes the dye from your clothes. It does not whiten whites or brighten colors unless it state it does because whiteners and brightened additives have been added to the bleach formula.

Today’s bleach formula is different than the one your Mom used. It now has a shelf life. A little longer than bread but too short to buy it by the gallon. There is a dated shelf life before the container is even opened! The shelf life shortens as soon as you open the container to about 30 days. So buy smaller bottles.

Bleach only works in COLD WATER. People in the food industry know this, I understand it’s part of the food handlers test.

I need to repeat, bleach is a disinfectant. It will still smell the same when it is too old to be a disinfectant.

Quiz: What do you use bleach for?


Look for additives that say they whiten whites, because they have special whitening additives in them. Sometimes I will soak them in this. Both borax and Borateem are laundry-enhancing products that are added to a wash cycle. Both have whitening qualities and come in powdered form. Borax has been used as a laundry booster since the 19th century whereas Borateem is a specific brand made by the Dial Corporation.( I haven’t seen Borateem on the shelves lately, I think it is one of the best.)

Fabric Softeners

This is really what prompted me to write this. I just saw a commercial stating to add as many a 3 dryer softener sheets to avoid ironing your clothes. I laughed so hard, I cried. First of all, that’s a lot. Dryer sheets will leave an oily stain on your synthetic fabrics (polyester). Don’t worry, it will wash out the next time you wash your clothes but if you use those sheets again the spots will move like cancer.

I was married to a Maytag man. He sold and repaired washers and dryers. The dryer sheets build a film up on your dryer vent screen, blocking the hot air from escaping. This may cause a fire 🔥. You should wash your screen with soap and water, or as he suggested, run it through your dishwasher (he sold those too)!

👍Good to know- those dryer sheets repel mosquitoes and add fragrance to stinky tennis shoes and luggage. I suggest you wash your tennis shoes; remove the insoles to wash by hand and throw the shoes in the washing machine. Keep the luggage smelly fresh by packing zip lock baggies for dirty and wet clothes and remove them from the luggage ASAP.

Liquid fabric softeners don’t leave stains but do leave a coating on your towels that block absorption. Then you may think your towels are not working and you bought the wrong kind 🧐. Tip: do not use on fleece or performance fabrics. They coat the fabrics preventing them from doing what the do best and pill.

Wrinkle prevention – remove your clothes from the dryer as soon as they are dry and the dryer stops. Use your hand to smooth out the wrinkles. This is not as good as an iron but many of our younger generation do not own an iron so they don’t see the difference. 😂

Dry cleaning wools. This comes straight from my dry cleaner

– Hang up your wool garments as soon as you take them off. Wool naturally wicks away the dirt and it falls to the floor.

– Do not use the plastic dry cleaning bags to store your clothes. They give off a toxic gas that breaks down the fibers.

– Many people over clean their woolens but if stained, get them cleaned within 2-3 days. This applies to all stains. Tell the dry clean what stained the garment so they can treat it with the correct stain remover. Sugery based stains actually oxides and lifts the dye from the fabric. You may get the stain out but it still leaves a stain like look because it is a different color or shade.

Antique fabrics need to be handled with care. OxiClean has been reported to safely clean with care by an Interior Designer who buys and sells antique fabrics/home accessories.

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