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End the great laundry debate

By on April 18, 2008

photo by kb35
retro washer
Anyone who shares a home with someone else knows there are some things you simply do differently. One person puts the toilet paper over and the other under; one person turns the thermostat down and the other wants it warmer. These little things can drive you batty because you just know there’s only one right way. Your way, right? Laundry is one of those things.

To set the record straight, laundry should be sorted. There’s the “right” way to decide what needs to be hung up rather than folded, too. And for those households in which the men haven’t touched a pair of dirty socks in over a decade — that doesn’t happen over here without a laundry strike. Yes, I stoop that low. I’ve been known to place the hamper strategically on his side of the bed so he can’t miss it. All is fair in love and laundry.

SORTING: Sort by weight (fabric types such as denim, terry, knits, fleece, flannel, wool, etc.) and then by color (whites, lights, brights and darks). If an article of clothing says “wash separately,” it can often be washed with like colors. Sort out heavily soiled or stained clothing to prevent discoloration of other clothes. Sort by size so you have a balanced load. You want the agitator to work and spin well, so don’t overload. Sort fabrics by required water temperature, too.

TEMPERATURES: Hot water is used for whites, colorfast light-colored fabrics and clothing that has stains, unless you’re using an enzyme detergent such as Tide or Clorox cold-water bleach, which perform well in lower temperatures. Warm water is used for most clothing, such as permanent-press items, colorfast brights and polyester. Cold is for darks and bright colors, delicates and wools. According to Science Daily, researchers found washing in hot water killed all dust mites, compared to 6.5 percent when washing in warm water. Hot water was found to be more effective on dog dander and pollen, too. Washing in warm water with a double cold-rinse cycle was suggested as an effective alternative. Keep in mind, however, that many detergents perform best in higher temperatures. Read your clothing’s care labels for washing and drying instructions.

HANGING VS. FOLDING: Sweaters, T-shirts and casual knits should be folded to prevent stretching. If you prefer hanging T-shirts to avoid crease marks, avoid wire hangers and remove the hanger from the bottom so you don’t stretch the neck. If you hang sweaters, fold them in half lengthwise and drape them over the base of a hanger. Jeans can be folded. Casual pants and dress pants should be hung from felt-lined clamps, clip hangers or trouser-bar hangers. Dress shirts, blouses, skirts and dresses in fabrics such as rayons, silks and cottons should be hung to avoid wrinkles. Use padded hangers for dress clothes and delicates so they don’t slip. Blankets can be stored on hangers to take up less space. Invest in wooden hangers for your nicer clothing.

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