Clothes are expensive. Or they can be. I don't like expensive. Here are some great ways to get the most bang for your buck while making your clothes last.
-My first tip would be to not use the dryer. Drying your clothes is a lot harder on them in your dryer than using a drying rack or the clothes line. All that lint you threw away....that used to be part of your clothes! And when you do dry them follow the instructions printed on the tag. They are there for a reason.
-If we all could afford this next one it would be great, but even I can't right now. Front loading washing machines are tons of times gentler on clothes than that awful agitator twisting and pulling. You would think we were punishing our favorite tee shirt!
-When adding bleach don't pour it right onto the clothing! Chlorine bleach is corrosive. When I was learning the ropes of doing laundry I would pour it directly on my white shirt and the stain would magically disappear in front of my eyes. I thought that was a good thing. Until months later I would get holes where I had done so. Chlorine bleach will eat away any fabric. Not to mention discolor and wreck your colorful items. So be careful. Even though peroxide is a great 'green' bleach alternative, it still can wreck colored items too.
-You don't need to use scalding hot water to clean your clothes. Warm or cool is fine! You won't risk shrinking that favorite sweater. It will save you money too.
-Don't hang sweaters up on hangers. They are heavy so they will just stretch. We've all seen those ugly bumps on the shoulders that came from hangers. Ugh!
-Don't be afraid to hand wash some delicate items. Everything doesn't need to be sent to the cleaners. A nice trick I learned to help dry these items is to put them in a towel. Lay item flat on a big bath towel. Roll up. Give a little squeeze, taking care not to crunch, twist or wring the towel. Unroll and most of the water has gone into the towel.
-Trash/reuse/recycle those dry cleaning bags. Plastic locks in moisture which is not good for clothing so don't keep your clothing inside of these bags.
-Get out those pesky stains! There is nothing worse than turning a shirt into a rag because you couldn't get that salad dressing or armpit stain out. Follow these tips:
Red Wine - Rinse with club soda. Then pretreat with color safe bleach. If the spill is on a white shirt use a bleach pen for small spots or dilluted chlorine bleach for larger spots. Launder as usual using either a color safe bleach or chlorine bleach.
Coffee - Rinse rinse rinse with cold water. Pretreat with color safe bleach, bleach pen, or favorite pretreater depending on the garment. Launder as usual using a color safe bleach or chlorine bleach.
Berries - Rinse with cold water. If the spot is on a white shirt use a bleach pen for small spots or diluted chlorine bleach for larger spots. Pretreat with color safe bleach if needed for colored items. Launder as usual using either a color safe bleach or chlorine bleach. You can try pouring boiling water on the spot too.
Ketchup - Pretreat right away using color safe bleach or a bleach pen/diluted chlorine bleach depending on the garment. You can try pouring some Mr. Clean on the stain too. Launder as usual using a color safe bleach or chlorine bleach.
Grease/Salad Dressing - Apply a grease fighting dish soap or liquid laundry detergent immediately to pretreat. Launder as usual using a color safe bleach or chlorine bleach.
Lipstick - Dab (very important not to rub!) a cotton ball/cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol onto the stain. Start from the outside of the stain and work your way in. I have also heard that a large amount of petroleum jelly rubbed into it works too. Launder by hand using dish soap.
Armpit Stains - Make sure you know if the stain is actually sweat or if it came from your deodorant. To tell the difference check the color. If it is yellow or greenish and can also be crunchy to the touch it is sweat. If it is greasy and/or clear or white in color it is from your deodorant. Do NOT add chlorine bleach. This will change your yellow stain to something fierce. Pretreat with very hot water. Then equal parts baking soda and peroxide. You can use just peroxide if there isn't any baking soda handy. If it makes you feel better you can start with a 50/50 mixture of water/peroxide. Take note that peroxide isn't safe to use on or near colored items. If peroxide and baking soda aren't available use a laundry detergent geared for grass stains/food. You can also try an oxygenated detergent. Some people (and I am one of those people!) swear by the power of the sun. Have you ever left something out in the sun a couple days? It will never look the same. The sun has bleaching powers. Think highlights from summer! You can try pretreating it with detergent first then laying it out in the sun. This trick works better on whites.
Mud and Dirt - Pretreat with a powder detergent or liquid. If the mud is caked on, use a soft bristled brush to remove excess after it has dried. Doing so before it has dried will smear the mud worse. Be careful not to grind the dirt into the fabric. Think off, not in. Wash as usual.
Bubble gum - Put article of clothing directly in the freezer for a couple of hours. Scrape away gum. Whatever is left use a dry cleaning solvent to remove residue.
Acrylic Paint - Pretreat using rubbing alcohol, 'pine' cleaners, and good old hairspray. They all have been known to get rid of paint from clothes. Gently rub pretreater of choice onto clothing and soak. Wash as usual.
Blood - Pretreat with cold water and a dab of shampoo. Never use hot water. It will set the blood stain. If stain is on a white shirt you can try peroxide. Windex is also rumored to treat a blood stain.
As with any stain try to catch it right away. I know this isn't always the case. One more thing I advise is to not put the stained article of clothing in the dryer after you have washed it. Check the stain. If it is still there try other options before it has set in. You can tell this even when it is still wet. So it's okay to have to repeat the process. In all the instances above using chlorine bleach you can substitute hydrogen peroxide. I do this all the time. Also, vinegar makes a great residue remover in the final rinse in your laundry. Use in place of fabric softener. Good luck!
Hopefully today you have learned a trick or two and can save some money at the same time. If you follow the tips and tricks above you'll not only go easy on your clothes you'll go easy on your wallet too.