If you're washing bath towels as often as recommended (at least every three uses), they'll probably stay fresh and clean. Sometimes, though, laundered towels develop a musty odor. That smell is caused by bacteria that were left behind after your shower or attracted by a buildup of laundry detergent. To refresh your towels, skip the detergent and wash them with white vinegar on the hottest cycle. For especially stinky towels, wash them a second time with vinegar, then wash again with regular detergent.
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The ordinary tennis ball is good for more than a game of doubles. Keep a couple next to your clothes dryer and pop them into the machine whenever you're drying sheets, towels, or heavy garments. Not only will your clothes come out fluffy and soft, but because they'll dry faster, the machine will use less energy.
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If you want to cut costs in the laundry room, ditch the dryer sheets and switch to aluminum foil. Rip off a sheet of foil from the roll, then shape it into a tight ball. Repeat until you have two or three foil balls, then drop them in the clothes dryer when you want to fluff garments or eliminate static cling. Unlike dryer sheets, these DIY creations can be reused for months, cost next to nothing, and don't release potentially harmful chemicals.
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For whiter whites and brighter colors, add one-half cup of baking soda to a cold-water prewash. Alternatively, baking soda can be used to pretreat stains. Mix baking soda and water until it forms a paste, rub it on the affected area, and let it sit before you wash the fabric as normal.
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For a natural stain remover, try salt. It's particularly good for grease stains. Start by covering a fresh grease stain with salt, then wait for the grease to be absorbed. Re-salt the spot until the stain is gone, then wash. Always air-dry stained items because the heat from the dryer can set the stain. If the stain is still there after the item has dried, retreat and wash again.
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Another unlikely stain remover? Rubbing alcohol. Sponge it on pen marks and ink stains, then allow the solution to sit. Repeat the process until the stain is no longer visible, then rinse and wash as normal.
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While you should never use dish soap as a replacement for laundry detergent, you can use a dab of it as a stain treatment for greasy spots. Use your fingers to work a drop into the stained portion of the garment, then rinse thoroughly. Pop the item into the wash, then remove the garment to dry. If the spot is still there, repeat the process until it disappears.
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Keep these unexpected items within reach, along with your favorite laundry staples, for a quick and easy laundry day.
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