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.