DEAR SARA: Where do you find washing soda? I can find Borax almost everywhere, but I have never seen washing soda. -- Cheryl, Ohio
DEAR CHERYL: Super washing soda is made by Arm & Hammer. It can usually be found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store. Check hardware stores, discount department stores, drugstores or health-food stores. If your grocery store doesn't carry it, ask the manager to order it. You can call their customer-service department and ask them for the closest retailer that sells it, or order it directly by calling (800) 524-1328.
DEAR SARA: What can you use instead of coffee filters? We ran out of coffee filters today, and I thought I remembered there is something else that some people use in lieu of "real" coffee filters. Do you know? -- Q.M., Canada
DEAR Q.M.: You can use a paper towel in a pinch or reuse the last coffee filter by removing the old grounds and rinsing it. It's the perfect time to buy a reusable gold filter or buy or make an unbleached and untreated muslin filter. If you'd like to buy a cloth filter, it costs less than $3 and lasts for months. Visit www.kalyx.com to find one. If you choose to buy a permanent filter and find it hard to clean, use a toothbrush. Makes cleanup a snap.
DEAR SARA: Have you used laundry balls? Can you tell me about them if you do or have in the past, please? Thanks. -- Judi, New Hampshire
DEAR JUDI: I wouldn't waste my time with the laundry balls for the washer. As for the dryer balls, the commercial types are loud, expensive and made from PVC. I see no reason why you can't reuse a tennis ball or make your own dryer balls from wool. I suggest wool over the tennis ball because the rubber from the tennis ball could smell over time with high heat. To make a wool dryer ball, use 100 percent wool-felting yarn. Acrylic yarn doesn't felt, and don't use super-wash wool because it's treated not to felt. Make a few small yarn balls, approximately 5 inches around. Wrap the yarn tightly. Pull the yarn end through the yarn ball to prevent it from unraveling. You can add drops of essential oil for scent, too. Place the balls in pantyhose, tying a knot in between each ball, or tie a piece of yarn or rubber band in between so it resembles a link of sausages.
Place the pantyhose of yarn balls into a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to prevent lint. Toss this into the washing machine, and wash in hot water. Once washed, put it into the dryer to felt the yarn balls. Remove from dryer. Remove the yarn balls from the pantyhose and you'll notice the ball has shrunk a bit. Wrap more yarn around the ball to make it larger (about 8 inches around). Place in pantyhose again, wash and dry again for a second felting. It will look a bit fuzzy on the outside. It's ready to use to prevent static in the dryer.
photo by Isaberg