I have to start off by admitting that I am hardly a laundry expert… I still keep a cheat sheet in the laundry room to remind me which settings I need to use on the machines for colored clothes vs. white ones (Cold = Colors // Warm = Whites). 🙈 Growing up, my single mom employed my help with an array of household chores from routine tasks like cleaning mirrors and vacuuming to more random ones like polishing silver or removing wax from candle holders, but I was rarely asked to help with laundry. My suspicion is that she was afraid that it would be too easy for me to make a mistake and ruin an entire load of our family’s clothes… so I was only required to fold laundry, thus never really learning the basic principles of washing clothes. My husband, on the other hand, has been doing his own laundry for decades so it was shocking to him when we first started living together that I struggled with finding the correct settings on our washing machine. 🤣
Over the past few years, I’ve learned a thing or two (from my husband, friends, or even through Google searches!) — today I’m sharing all of my laundry-related knowledge to help you to maximize the life of your clothes and simplify your life at home!
Tide Pen — This item is certainly not new or revolutionary, but it’s been a lifesaver for me in so many situations because you’ve gotta treat stains ASAP before they set! I keep a Tide Pen Mini with me (in my purse) at all times and I even keep a full sized Tide Pen in my travel toiletries bag, just because you never know. I’d rather treat a stain on the spot (😆) instead of waiting until I return home from from traveling.
Spray’n’Wash Treatment — This is a product that my mom used to apply on all of our stained laundry while I was growing up and it always worked wonders! It’s super easy to use: just rub the stick directly onto the stain ASAP to allow the formula to begin separating the stain from the material and then just toss into the wash as normal! Of course, you’ll get the best results if you wash the stained clothing sooner than later.
Hydrogen Peroxide — This is a super handy trick my husband taught me for getting blood stains out of fabrics (I will occasionally knick myself shaving or something and end up getting blood on my clothes or even on our white bath towels)! Depending on the size of the blood spot, either soak the end of a Q-tip or an entire cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide and gently rub on the affected spot. Allow the solution to soak in (let it fizzle!) and really break down the stain before scrubbing vigorously — repeat as needed to maximize stain removal! For larger spots, pour the hydrogen peroxide directly onto fabric and then follow the steps above. To get the best results, treat with hydrogen peroxide as soon as you can and then get into the wash ASAP after treating. It’s not a perfect system (especially if the stain is a bit older and has had time to set), but it works pretty well the majority of the time!
Divided Clothing Hamper: I guess I’m grown up now because getting this hamper was way more exciting than it should have been and was a total gamechanger for our laundry. I used to just toss all of my dirty clothes into the same hamper and then have to sort everything when I pulled it all out to start laundry. If you have the space, I highly recommend investing in a clothing hamper with dividers. I linked the one that we have (and love!) that is split into 3 sections — we use them for: whites, colors, and darks. We really like this model in particular because the sorting bags each have handles and detach from the frame, making the clothes super easy to carry down to our basement laundry room.
Mesh Laundry Bags: I swear by my zippered mesh laundry bags for washing delicates and keeping my socks from getting “eaten” by the dryer. They keep everything safe and secure (no snags or static cling!). I like to wash my Rothy’s insoles in them, as well as use them to contain my bras in the wash if hand-washing isn’t required. Laundry bags are an inexpensive way to “upgrade” the way that you deal with laundry!
When they’re not in the washing machines, I keep them looped over the hook of a hanger on the front bar of our hamper and I just toss sorted items into them when necessary (white socks in one, nude undies in another, black socks / undies in the third). When it’s time to wash, I just zip them up and toss into the corresponding hamper section! Easy peasy!
Wool Dryer Balls: I’ve never been a big fan of dryer sheets or fabric softener — I’m all about avoiding unnecessary fragrances and the weird residue leftover on clothes from fabric softener. My mom never used them in our laundry growing up and that seems to have carried over into my adult life now too. There are also reports showing that there may be a link between dryer sheets and cancer… 🤷🏻♀️I don’t know how accurate that information actually is, but it’s just not worth the risk, in my opinion. In lieu of dryer sheets / fabric softener, I like to toss a couple of dryer balls in with our damp laundry, straight from the washing machine and let them tumble around with the clothes/linens. Dryer balls help to “soften” clothes, minimize wrinkles, and speed up drying time! If you’re in favor of adding scents to your laundry, you can add a few drops of a fragrance oil to the dryer balls before you pop them in with the clothes.
The Laundress Wool / Delicates Detergent: Admittedly, we’re still using Original Liquid Tide for our laundry, but as soon as the container is empty I want to switch over to products by The Laundress. Ultimately, the switch would be to help avoid trips to the dry cleaner (trying to avoid chemicals) and therefore saving money. I’m a bit skeptical about the switch because I love my Tide, but everyone I know that uses these products raves about them, so I’m going to try my hand at laundering my delicates (silk, wool, etc.) at home. This company has special cleansers and tools for everything, so I feel confident that I am in good hands.
Dry Cleaning Bag: Sometimes you just can’t avoid going to the dry cleaners… they’re experts at tough stain removal and some dry cleaning locations even offer repairs for minor clothing issues (such as replacing buttons, re-stitching popped seams, etc.) so I fully support dropping by every once in a while. To get your items to the cleaners, it’s always so much easier with a bag… my husband’s previous laundry bag was lost, so I found this one online and it’s been perfect! Great quality, thick material, and big enough to fit everything if we end up taking in a larger haul.
Snag Nab-It — This tool is amazing; you can actually repair clothing snags on your own at home; it’s so easy to do! You just push the pin through the fabric into the middle of the snag and push it down through the material to hide the loop! If you’re interested in a more visual demonstration, there’s a video following the product link.
Fabric Defuzzer — I wrote an entire blog post dedicated to this tool because it totally blew my mind when I heard about it. 😂 I hate hate hate when my clothing pills, but really want to keep those pieces in regular rotation. This defuzzer has rescued so much of my closet! It’s such an inexpensive way to save those favorite pieces in your wardrobe.
Acrylic Folding Board: Our closet isn’t very large, so we have had to get creative with our clothing storage and each ended up getting 9-drawer dressers to keep the majority of our clothes in. Thankfully, after my many years of working in retail (hey, A&F! 👋), I’m pretty much a rockstar at folding (I don’t brag about much, but girlfriend can FOLD). The folding boards that I am used to working with from my time in retail are made from acrylic (the ones that I used at Abercrombie had lines custom painted on theirs to help with alignment — so handy!). I use the boards to fold just about every kind of top that we own and as a result, they are all a uniform size and fit perfectly in our drawers. You can also use the KonMari method, but the boards work for us. (We use the KonMari method for folding our pants, but that’s mostly due to the fact that that’s how I learned to fold them for our denim display walls at Abercrombie… haha)
Hand-Steamer: This is another carryover from my retail days (who knew that anything from that job would be useful in my adult life? 🤣). Certain fabrics can be ruined by being pressed against screaming hot metal… avoid the guesswork on which materials can and can’t be ironed and just steam everything! It’s a lot faster than ironing and there’s no risk of burning / melting / ruining your clothes. Win-win! Instead of using an iron & ironing board (or spray starch?!) I just hang our wrinkled clothes on the shower curtain rod in our bathroom to steam and then leave them in there to cool down and air-dry from the steaming moisture.
Hangers: Felted hangers are great for closets because of their (1) thin profile (read: you can fit more clothes!), (2) felted texture that keeps slippery fabrics from sliding off, (3) sturdiness compared to plastic hangers, and (4) more “adult” appearance (plastic hangers are SO college, amirite?). Note the number of items that are able to fit on the rungs in the photo below (from ManRepeller article on Rebecca Hessel Cohen of LoveShackFancy).
I need to invest in a few sets of felt hangers with the bar across the bottom so that I can break up with plastic hangers for good! I also recommend having a few cedar hangers, which are excellent for protecting your wool items and for supporting heavier pieces such as coats.
I also recommend this method for hanging your sweaters to avoid the shoulders getting stretched out. You don’t have to use the tissue paper, but I like to use a few sheets when I put my sweaters away and change out my wardrobe for the warmer months.
Closet Freshener — Not the sexiest topic, but it definitely deserves some credit in this post. Over time, some shoes just get a little stinky depending on their materials so I like to use odor- and moisture-absorbing sachets inside the shoes in my closet that are a little bit more prone to odor. To freshen up the entire closet, I discovered these air fresheners at Target recently and both my husband and I agree that they’re definitely effective! I will admit that the scent is a bit strong when you first open the container, but it does an excellent job of absorbing unwanted odors and replacing them with a much-preferred citrus-y scent!
I also use this free printable laundry symbols cheat sheet by Live Simply by Annie (thanks, girl!) to help me navigate what clothing items may need special care since a lot of the care instruction tags on clothing utilize these symbols. SO helpful!
My husband accidentally threw one of my dresses in the dryer that needs to be hung to dry so it shrank significantly. I was devastated as I loved the dress and it was no longer available for purchase anywhere so I can’t replace it! I discovered this trick for “relaxing” items that have shrunk in the dryer and am going to give the method a try — cross your fingers for me! I’ll report back on whether or not it works.
What are your laundry challenges? Do you have any laundry hacks that you’d like to share? Drop me a note in the comments section below — I’d love to hear from you!