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Laundry was probably first done by immersing cloth in streams and letting the stream carry away the materials causing stains and smells. In many Third-World countries and rural regions, laundry is still be done this way. Agitation helps remove the dirt, so the laundry is often rubbed, twisted, or slapped against flat rocks.
In the early 20th century inventors mechanized the laundry process with various washing machines. Typically, these machines used an electrically-powered agitator to replace tedious hand rubbing against a washboard. The earliest machines were simply a tub on legs, with a hand-operated mangle on top. Later the mangle too was electrically powered, then replaced by a perforated double tub, which spun out the excess water in a spin cycle.
Last Updated - 29th October 2005
- Blood, Fresh & Dried - Rinse fresh blood stains in cold running water and rub with soap. Repeat. For dried stains, first scrape or rub off as much dried blood as possible. Soak in warm water using a product which contains enzymes. Wash. If this doesn't work, rewash the item using a chlorine-free bleach. In the case of stubborn stains, rust removers may be helpful.
- Coffee, Tea - Presoak item in liquid detergent with bleach. Wash using the hottest water temperature that is safe for the fabric.
- Cosmetics - Dampen stain and rub with liquid detergent. Rinse, then wash.
- Dingy White Socks - Presoak in a liquid detergent solution for a minimum of 30 minutes. Wash in a liquid detergent which contains oxygen bleach. Food Coloring Soak in cool water. If stain remains, rub on detergent and rinse. Wash.
- Fruit Juice, Wine & Soft Drinks - Soak stain in cool water as soon as possible. Then, soak in an oxygen bleach, using the hottest water safe for the fabric. Wash.
- Mud - Brush off as much as possible when garment is dry, then rinse under cold running water. Pretreat with a paste of powder detergent and water, or liquid laundry detergent. Wash using laundry detergent and a fabric-safe bleach.
- Rust Stains - The yellow, orange or brown spots we sometimes find on our clothes may be caused by rust. Iron content of over .2 parts per million in your water supply can cause these type of stains, so it's important to have your water supply checked. Two possible sources can be rust water pipes or water heaters. One way to combat this problem is by using a mechanical water softener with an iron filter. Also, using a non-chlorine bleach can help, as chlorine bleach may cause the iron in the water to precipitate on fabrics and leave stains.
- Brighten Colors with Salt - Hard water can cause clothes to become dull or dingy after several washings. To solve this problem, add a couple of pinches of ordinary table salt to the washer with the detergent. Let some water run in the washer to dissolve detergent and salt, then add clothes. Colored clothes will come out much brighter.
- Delicates - Think you have to take that sheer voile blouse, beaded top, fringed silk shawl, or lace trimmed dress to the cleaners? Think again! You can clean these at home by simply tying the articles in a cotton pillow case, knotting it closed, and washing in cold water on regular cycle. Beads, sequins, buttons and delicate laces will not fall to pieces, and garments can be restored by steam ironing or steaming in the shower.
- Diapers - Do you hate dunking diapers in the toilet? There is now a new invention called the Little Squirt which eliminated this dreaded task. It is is powerful sprayer that attaches to the water supply for your toilet. Instead of dunking, you simply spray the contents of the diaper into the toilet.
- Down - As a general rule, down items should be cleaned twice a year- once before you start wearing them, and before you put them away after the winter season. Down can be washed or dry-cleaned, read your care label for instructions. You're better off taking large items that require a lot of washer and dryer space (i.e. comforters) to the laundromat, which has larger machines. Be careful not to tumble dry down items at a temperature greater than 140F, or water-resistant shell fabrics can slow drying.
Odd & Oversized Items :
- Stuffed Animals - Old stuffed animals can be salvaged. Place stuffed animals in a pillowcase, tie a knot in the case, and then place the stuffed animals in your wash machine on gentle or permanent press. You can even dry them. For best results, machine dry animals for about 20 minutes and then let air dry. Your child's favorite stuffed toy may look like new.
- Baseball Caps - To clean baseball caps without destroying their shape, place them on the top rack of the dishwasher and run through a complete cycle.
- Silk - Why Dry Clean Silk? Did you know that silk does not need to be dry cleaned? All you need to do is warm hand wash the blouse with some mild woolwash (normal detergents are the wrong pH for animal fibers like wool and silk). Then dry until it is just damp, roll it tightly and place in a sealed plastic bag then place that in the freezer. Then when it is frozen take it out and iron it.
Suds & Cleanliness - When soap flakes were used, a lot of suds meant good cleaning performance. However, the way laundry detergent is presently formulated, this is no longer true. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of this, and use excessive amounts of laundry detergent.
Washing Time - Never set the washing time for over 10 minutes -- most detergents have done all the work they are going to do by then-- the rest of the time your clothes are just agitating in the dirty water. It may not seem like much, but you can save a quite a bit of money over time using this trick.
Water Temperature - Water temperature plays a key role in the washing process. Hot water offers the quickest, best form of cleaning, and should be used for the following items: Sturdy whites, colorfast pastels and light prints, cloth diapers and similar baby items, and heavily soiled clothes. Warm water removes wear wrinkles, helps reduce wrinkling in the washer, and minimizes dye loss. It should be used for permanent press, all colorfast dark or bright colors, nylon synthetics, polyester, acrylic and washable woolens. You may want to keep in mind that laundry detergents are formulated to clean best at temperatures above 60°F/16°C. Cold water may prevent sensitive dyes from "bleeding" minimizes washer wrinkling and saves hot water. It can be used for lightly soiled fabrics, and should be used to rinse all loads, regardless of wash temperature. However, due to detergent formulations, cold water does not clean as effectively as warmer temperatures.
- Save on Drying Time - To save on the time spent running your dryer, especially for "heavy" items like throw rugs, diapers, etc., first run an extra "spin" cycle in your washing machine. Then, add a clean, dry, fluffy towel to your dryer with the wet laundry. This can cut your drying time by 25% or more!
- Don't over-dry your clothes . If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it. Overdrying is also a leading cause of static cling.
- Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
- Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
- Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
- Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
- Drying a small load reduces the tumbling effect and consequently lengthens the drying time. Add several clean, dry white towels to speed up the drying of small loads.
- Turn your jeans inside out, so they won't fade as quickly.
- Most dryers have delicate permanent press cycles, which have lower settings to protect fabrics which might be damaged by high temperatures.
- Don't overload your dryer, as it can result in excessive wrinkling.
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