Most of us have been doing laundry without issue for a long time. But add a husband and some messy kids to the mix and between smelly work shirts, dingy whites, and stained toddler tees you might feel that clothing has become disposable. Here are my absolute favorite laundry products, along with some amazing tips and tricks I’ve learned from my Grandmother, a true stain-removing goddess (seriously, we’d drop bags of stained clothing at her house and it would come back brand new).
Detergents are not created equal. This is a fact. And when you have children who constantly bring clothes back stained with food, grease, and an assortment of body fluids (sweat, tears, milk, saliva, blood, poop, etc) you need to have an enzyme detergent on standby. Enzymes break down proteins so they can be effectively washed out of our clothes and linens. Performance wise, enzyme detergents will be the most effective. My all time favorite? Persil. It’s pricier than some others but you only need a tiny amount (I fill to the second line in the cap for most loads) and even a standard size bottle lasts a while. If you’ve got sensitive skin to worry about, they make a free and clear version as well.
Boosters are pretty self explanatory. You throw them in the wash with detergent in order to “boost” the efficacy of the wash. Some people might be inclined to skip them but I say do so at your own peril. Why wash something twice or more if you don’t have to.
Lysol Laundry Sanitizer: If you have kids rolling around on the floor in preschools, or are dealing with bouts of sickness you’ll want to have this on hand. It disinfects laundry in hot or cold water and it smells amazing.
Oxiclean White Revive: The original Oxiclean would work for this purpose as well but the White Revive is my favorite because it keeps whites from looking dingy. This comes in liquid or powder and has additional enzymes to break down tough stains in the wash.
Borax: If you don’t have hard water this isn’t necessary but if you do, don’t skip a ½ cup of Borax in every load. It will protect your clothing from mineral deposits and hard water stains (didn’t know water can stain? It can.)
Stains are the bane of my existence. Do you know how many pieces of clothing I’ve shed tears over? More than I care to admit. You want to keep on arsenal on hand because you can’t treat every stain the same way, but a few rules apply to every scenario:
- Treat as soon as you can. Either immediately or as soon as you get home.
- DAB, never RUB or you’ll just set the stain into the fabric.
- Wash it all in cold water, heat sets in stains (especially proteins).
- Do. Not. Dry. Your. Clothes. Before. Checking. Them. If you dry a stain you’re hammering the nail in the proverbial coffin. It won’t always be impossible to fix, but most of the time you just end up adding something to a donation pile. Even if it looks like it went away, hang to dry and then check.
Here’s the best way to get common stains out of your clothes:
Blood: Hydrogen Peroxide works best. Rinse the item, spray/dab on Hydrogen Peroxide (it will bubble a bit, this means it’s working), rinse with cold water and then wash in cold water with Persil detergent and detergent booster.
Greasy Stains: Rinse the item, dab on some blue Dawn dishwashing soap, and work the stain until it’s foamy (add more water if you need). Rinse with cold water and then wash in cold water with Persil and a detergent booster. If you have time, you can also rub white chalk onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse and proceed with the Dawn.
Fruit Stains: This is the only case you should run HOT water through until the stain has faded. Then apply stain remover (I love Zout), let it sit for a few minutes, rinse with hot water, and wash using an enzyme detergent and booster.
Yellow/Dingy Whites: Fill a sink, tub, basin or your washer with hot water and add one cupful of Oxiclean White Revive per each gallon of water. Submerge the whites and let them soak for at least 6 hours. Rinse the clothes well, then add to a hot wash cycle with enzyme detergent and a booster. Lay in the sun to dry.
Water Spots: Water spots can look a lot like grease spots on the clothing, so follow the grease protocol first, and if they won’t go away then try this. Put a white towel down on an ironing board and set the iron to the proper setting. Mist distilled water on the stain and then iron the stain until dry.
For most other stains (like non-greasy food, drinks, grass, and dirt) I really like the following all-purpose stain removers. Just wet the area, spray/dab on the remover, let it sit for a few minutes, rinse with cold water and then wash with cold water using enzyme detergent and a booster.
Now go forth and revive your clothes, I believe in you.