Try These 9 Laundry Hacks for Easier Stain Removal, Faster Drying, and More

This story is part Tips for the houseCNET’s collection of handy tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the chore of doing the laundry – at some point, you’ll have to deal with that overflowing basket. But there are a few tricks to making your clothes cleaner, shinier, and fresher, not to mention solving some common laundry problems (like socks disappearing in your washing machine or dryer).

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The nine tips below will hopefully help you save time and money when doing your laundry.

For more laundry tips, check out the tips on buy a washing machine, ways to save energy do laundry and how to stop liquid detergent to spread everywhere.

1. Make your laundry smell great without dryer sheets

We like to use dryer sheets for all kinds of household uses, but we’re kind of done with using them in the dryer: they can create a sticky film that coats the lint screen and vent pipe, blocking airflow. As a result, the dryer runs less efficiently and you use more electricity to dry your clothes.

Herbal medicine essential oils

Herbal medicine essential oils

herbal therapy

If static isn’t an issue, a drop or two of your favorite essential oil is a much easier, customizable, and eco-friendly way to make your laundry smell great. Dampen an old, clean sock and dab it with two drops of rose, lavender, or peppermint extract, then turn it inside out and put it in the dryer with the rest of your clothes. The oil will only leave residue on the sock, not on your clothes or the lint trap.

We like to experiment with the oils in Plant Therapy and customize by mixing and matching their extract combinations.

2. Put aluminum foil in the dryer

If you have problems with static electricity, you still don’t need to resort to dryer sheets. These are single-use products that produce excess waste and release potentially harmful chemicals into the air.

To tame static electricity in the dryer, simply stir in a few balls of aluminum foil. The balls discharge static electricity buildup, preventing your clothes from sticking together. They are chemical free and the same dryer balls can be reused dozens of times.

Three balls of aluminum foil

Aluminum dryer balls can prevent static electricity in the dryer.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Depending on the size of the load, you will need two or three balls of aluminum foil, each between 2 and 3 inches in diameter. Use about 3 or 4 square feet of aluminum foil for each ball, compressing it as tightly as possible with your hands and making sure to press down on any pieces that might snag on clothing or undo the ball.

3. Never lose a sock again

Don’t resign yourself to ending up with mismatched socks. Simply gather all your dirty socks and throw them in a mesh laundry bag before putting them in the washing machine.

laundry socks

Never leave a sock behind again.

Pierre Cade

Keep them in the bag when drying them and only remove the socks when storing them. It’s a surefire way to leave no sock behind.

4. Add some blue to the white of your load

Mrs.  Stewarts Bluing Liquid Concentrate

Adding a light blue dye to a load of whites can actually make items appear whiter.

Mrs Stewarts

If you want your whites to be super white, try bluing. The blue tint – sold as bluing, laundry blue, cart blue and wash blue – can be found in most grocery store laundry aisles and adds a little blue dye to a load of laundry .

Mrs. Stewarts Bluing Liquid Concentrate is one of the most popular brands and dates back to 1883.

Now, it’s not like accidentally dropping a red towel into a white load: adding a light touch of blue tricks the eye into thinking the laundry is whiter and shinier.

Bluing is a great way to brighten sheets, towels, button-up shirts, and even curtains that have yellowed.

Bonus Tip: Hanging white laundry in the sun to dry can naturally bleach it without dye.

5. Flip That Top

Keep your favorite little black dress or distressed jeans from fading by simply turning them inside out before tossing them in the washer. This ensures that the part no one will see will be more abraded by the wash, spin and rinse cycles than the outside.

Pro Tip: To keep your dark colors vibrant, wash in cold water and hang to dry. This will set the dye on the fabric, so it won’t seep into the wash water and fade.

Lily: Tips to prevent your clothes from fading

6. Restore a shrunken sweater with baby shampoo

In the rush to do the laundry, we’ve all accidentally tossed a favorite woolen sweater into the washer or dryer – only to find that it came out four sizes too small.

Shrunken sweater

You can still save that shrunken sweater.

Chip Simons

Do not send it to Goodwill yet. Mix a solution of cool water and baby shampoo – or conditioner – in a bucket or sink and submerge the shrunken garment for at least 30 minutes. The shampoo will relax the wool fibers, allowing you to (gently) stretch the garment back to its original size.

This is not a foolproof method, however: if the fibers are fully felted (i.e. shrunk and tightly smoothed together), they cannot be stretched back to their original shape.

6. Dry clothes faster with a clean towel

Turning up the dryer heat will make your clothes dry faster, of course. But the more heat you use, the faster your clothes will shrink and wear out. And higher heat uses more electricity.

If you need to dry something quickly, especially a smaller load, add dry bath towels to the load to absorb some of the moisture.

7. Use chalk or shaving cream as a stain remover

A grease stain can look like a life-threatening wound to a beloved blouse or t-shirt. But if you rub a little chalk on the stain when it happens, it will soak up a lot of the oil before you have a chance to toss the item in the wash. It’s like having your own homemade Tide pen.

shaving cream

Shaving cream is great for removing stains if you’re on the go.

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If you don’t have chalk, baby powder works much the same way: sprinkle the talcum powder directly onto the affected area and let sit overnight before washing off.

Shaving cream is another great medicine cabinet stain remover, especially if you’re traveling and running low on supplies. Work a dollop into the stain, let it sit for at least 20 or 30 minutes, then blot it up.

8. Use ice cubes to remove wrinkles

Don’t have the time or the patience to iron? Get rid of the wrinkles in your favorite shirt by tossing it in the dryer with a handful of ice cubes and running it on high for about 12-15 minutes. The steam from the melting ice cubes acts as a natural steamer.

ice cubes

Ice cubes melt in the dryer, acting as a natural garment steamer.

Theo Cockrean/EyeEm

When the cycle is complete, hang it up and smooth the cuff, collar and seams by hand.

Alternatively, you can throw a wrinkled garment or two in the dryer. with a damp bath towel and set the timer for five minutes over medium heat.

The important thing with either tip is to remove the garment right away, otherwise it will wrinkle again:

9. Wash your pillows to make them softer

To wash a synthetic pillow, put it alone in the machine with detergent and fabric softener. Set your washer to the “sanitize” setting – or the hottest wash cycle and fastest spin cycle available.

At the end of the cycle, place the pillow and a clean bath towel in the dryer and run it for 30 minutes on the sanitize mode or the highest possible heat setting. If it’s still damp, put it back and select wet-dry mode or set the timer for another 10 minutes. If it is still not dry, restart the dryer, but check it frequently.

soft pillow

Yes you box put your pillows in the washing machine and the dryer.

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To wash a down pillow, remove the cover and make sure there are no obvious tears that would allow feathers to escape. It’s actually best to wash pillows two at a time (to balance the washer tub) and load them vertically to avoid agitator damage.

Wash on the gentle cycle using less detergent than usual and run additional rinse and spin cycles to wring out as much soap and moisture as possible. Hot or even cold water will damage the feathers of the pillow less than a high temperature setting.

Dry the pillows on low heat or even without heat for 15 or 20 minutes. It may take more than one cycle, but be sure to take them out of the dryer and fluff them between cycles.

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