Out, Damn’d Spot!

 Posted by on March 8, 2012  Add comments  Tagged with: , ,
Mar 082012

Out I say!

Yes, I have an English degree, and it colors all areas of my life. Including the laundry.

I also have a journalism degree, which means that I can’t read magazines or newspapers without conducting an ongoing mental critique (particularly of headline structure, and spelling, grammar, and punctuation).

And what is the point of this? Absolutely nothing, except it helped me come up with a good title for this post about laundry.

I’ve written about laundry before (see The Laundry. Oh, the Laundry), but that was more than a year ago, and since then, I’ve accumulated a few new tips for you! In fact, whenever I’m working in my laundry room (which seems to be a lot), I always think, “I really should tell my readers about this.”

And then I forget.

Then, I tell my husband, “I’m so glad I started doing (insert useful tip). It really makes a difference.” He then replies, “Did you blog about that?” No. So, then I make a mental note to blog about that.

And then I forget.

Since having children, it’s almost comical how forgetful I’ve become, and it’s gotten worse and worse with each kid. I read an article (in some magazine – I forget which one) about brain cell loss in pregnancy, and apparently, it’s not just a myth. Brain cell volume really does decrease when you’re pregnant, and I’m living proof that it never completely goes back to normal, because I’m telling you, if it’s not written down, I can’t remember to do it. I once ran out of shampoo in the shower, and because I knew I’d forget to buy more (until the next time I was in the shower, and was forced to scrub my head with a bar of soap), I put the empty bottle on the bath mat, so I would see it when I got out. When I stepped out, I tripped over the empty bottle, but I knew that if I set it on the counter, I would get distracted and forget about it, so I kicked it into the bedroom. When I was getting dressed, I noticed it again (thank goodness, because I’d already forgotten that we needed shampoo), so I put it right in front of the bedroom door. By the time I was ready to leave the bedroom, I’d forgotten about shampoo again, but I saw the bottle propped against the door jam, so I picked it up, and carried it out to the kitchen. I poured a cup of coffee, and drank about half before it dawned on me that I was holding something in my other hand.

Ah, yes. The shampoo bottle. I went to the dry erase board and carefully wrote, “shampoo” on the grocery list. Then I set the empty bottle on the counter while I helped one of the kids with something. It sat there for 3 days because I kept forgetting to throw it into the recycling bin.

I wish I could say that this story is an exaggeration for comic effect..but sadly, it’s not.

Now that my children are a little older, and I get more sleep at night, my brain works much better. Nonetheless, I took some time last night to write down my new laundry tips for you, and then I propped the pad against my computer monitor so I would not forget what I planned to blog about today.

So are you ready? OK, here goes…

-I now keep a small dishpan in the laundry room, containing a gallon of water, and about 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach. At the end of the day, when I change my dish cloth and towel, I take the dirty ones downstairs and put them in this solution. It disinfects them, and keeps them from getting mildewy and sour, like they will if you just ball them up and toss them into the laundry pile.

-I also keep a clean bucket full of a great presoak solution in the laundry room, and toss stained clothing in right away (instead of, again, balling it up and throwing it in the laundry pile, where the stains proceed to permanently bind themselves to the clothing fibers). You need to make sure you have enough solution in the bucket to completely cover the clothes, so they don’t mildew while they’re waiting for wash day. (Caution! If you have young kids, make sure you use a bucket with a tight-fitting lid, because buckets of water are a drowning hazard. You can find lidded, 5-gallon buckets at any hardware store, or you can reuse an empty detergent bucket).

The presoak solution is this:

1/4 cup laundry soap
1/4 cup borax
2 gallons cold water

Much cheaper than Oxy-Clean, and it works just as well.

-My husband has a lot of black clothing – especially socks – with varying degrees of fade. This was frustrating for me when folding, because I always had to match all his socks according to fade level. I fixed this problem with an inexpensive box of RIT black fabric dye. I put all of his socks, and other solid black clothing in the dye bath together. Now every sock matches every other sock, and his faded black t-shirts look new again!

– I accidentally dripped bleach on Bee’s favorite black tank, which is embellished with rhinestones along the neckline. To fix the bleach drip problem, I saved and washed out an empty liquid laundry detergent bottle with an easy-pour spout, and transferred my liquid bleach to it (bleach bottles are notoriously big, clumsy, and difficult to pour from. You’d think someone would address this problem). Now, when I pour bleach, it doesn’t leak and drip down the front of the washer and onto the sorted clothes on the laundry room floor anymore. I wrote BLEACH in giant black letters all over the bottle with a black permanent marker, so it wouldn’t accidentally be mistaken for detergent.

To fix Bee’s black tank, I put it in the black dye bath with my husband’s socks, but I’ve fixed minor bleach disasters on black clothing with a black laundry marker (you can buy a 2-pack of these at Staples). I also used my laundry marker to put an initial on the inside of the waist band on all the girls’ tights, so I could quickly tell whose was whose when folding. This would also work great for socks and other clothing.

– I have a problem with getting distracted and forgetting about laundry I’ve started (see above). Then it sits in the washer for too long and starts to smell bad, especially in the summer. I fixed this problem by buying a gallon of white vinegar for the laundry room. I put a half cup in the prewash cycle for colored loads, (it isn’t an issue for whites, because I always add a little bleach, which controls mold and mildew growth), and now, even if I forget the wet laundry for a day, it still smells fresh (not like vinegar – honest).

– I also bought an inexpensive bottle of generic dish soap for the laundry room. I keep it there with a small scrub brush, and whenever I see an article of clothing with a grease stain, I just pour a tiny bit on the stain, scrub it in, and wash as usual. This works so well, because dish soap is designed to cut through grease. It works great on most food stains too, and it’s CHEAP!

So, there you go. I hope you find these tips useful…and now I have to go, because I just remembered that I put a load of laundry in the machine on Tuesday and forgot about it. Hopefully, I at least remembered to add the vinegar.


  15 Responses to “Out, Damn’d Spot!”

  1. Great Tips Thanks Heather for taking the time to do this post! 

  2. GREAT tips! My memory has gotten so bad, I’ve taken to carrying a notebook around to jot things down. It would work like a charm if I wasn’t constantly misplacing the notebook!

  3. This was great! You should update all your year old cleaning posts. I’ve read almost all of them but it would be nice to see if you’ve improved on any of them. Like the cleaning products you use post.

  4. Heather thanks so much for the tip about vinegar for stinky laundry left in the washer! I am notorious for this especially if I do some laundry before having to go out for the day. I agree with you on the mommy brain. Sometimes I’ll refer to it in public to a cashier or something and they usually look at me like I’m crazy. It hits me the worst right after I’ve done some reorganizing and I forget the new places I’ve put things. Thanks for the tips I really look forward to reading your blog and check everyday!

  5. The tip about putting the bleach in the detergent bottle is awesome.  A few weeks ago I was trying to pour bleach into the tiny hole it goes in and I spilled it down my shorts and down my leg.  Yeah, it wasn’t too pretty.  I can’t wait to try that tip.  Thanks.

  6. I just want to say Amen to both your blog yesterday and today.  I am preggo with baby number 3 and swear I was smarter before having babies!!!  I did know you get, what I refer to as, preggo brain while pregnant but I truly agree that it never quite comes back. I can truly relate to your shampoo story and I believe that there is no exaggeration at all because I do similar things all the time and then wonder what is wrong with me!! 
    My family is also in a small, ranch house and I sympathize with how you feel about any Holiday where I know new things will come into the house.  I feel overrun by toys on most days!
    Thank you for the laundry tips and also fore reassuring me that I am far from alone!!!

  7. Heather, I was wondering if you have any tips for keeping the whites white.  I have seen a “recipe” of dawn dishsoap, peroxide and baking soda to treat dingy whites but to clean a whole load of whites, that will take a lot.  Just wondering what your thoughts are.  Thank you!

  8. Love this post, Heather, but I always do loving reading all of your blog articles!  The shampoo bottle story reminds me of my life (LOL) and an email that a friend once shared with me, and I still refer to it often.  It was about an “affliction” called CAADD, or Child-Activated Attention Deficit Syndrome.  For those of us who used to be very focused and organized BEFORE we became parents, it is a “disease” that causes us to get distracted from the important household jobs that we set out to do because our children (and husbands!) leave little tasks incomplete all throughout the house and we stop along the way to our chore to finish everyone else’s work!  Thought you might like to know that there is a real “diagnosis” for your frustrating malady! 🙂  Keep up the wonderful posts-I just love reading your witty, honest, and sincere tidbits about motherhood-I can identify with so much of your life that I sometimes feel like we may have been separated at birth! Have a great weekend!

  9. I am so glad to see that I am not the only one that writes on my children’s clothing.  My husband thinks I am crazy.  But, he is not the one folding the laundry.  It is hard to tell what belongs to who with four children and 3 of them boys around the same size.  Love your blog.

  10. Thanks for this post Heather! I have been trying to think of a solution to soak my son’s clothes in until I wash them. I have stained bibs and poopy stains on many of his undershirts that don’t come all the way out until the third washing. Thank you so much for the tip!

  11. Thanks for all the great tips! I’m also glad to know I’m not the only one who can’t remember anything!

  12. You have such a knack for writing funny stories.  They never sound contrived.  I think we’ve all been there in the shower (and bathroom, bedroom and hall) with the empty shampoo bottle!  I laughed aloud and felt much better for my seriously-impaired mommy brain.  Oh, and the laundry tips couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve already implemented the soaks for dish rags and stained items.  Thanks so much!

  13. Thanks for the great tips!  I have red dishcloths so do you think the bleach soak would discolor them?  It is a great idea, i might have to invest in some white ones!

    • I have been wondering about that too. All of mine are different colors and not white but I would love to try it. 

  14. The Black Rit dye is going on my grocery list!  I work at AT&T and I wear black thick socks to keep my feet from hurting since we stand on our feet for 10 hours+.  I hate how they fade and the ones that dont fade cost an arm and a leg.  But now I have a solution! Thanks Heather–you are THE BEST!

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