Keeping up with the laundry can seem like mission impossible for a busy family.
If you feel like you can never get ahead of it, you’re not alone. And the more kids you have (and the younger they are, or the more sports they play), the more laundry you can count on.
We’re here to help with this list of laundry cleaning tips to make the task a little easier on your family’s laundry boss. For expert advice, we asked Gary Fryatt, owner of the Laundry Palace in Clawson. Here we’ll share tips for getting ahead of the task, plus advice on how to remove stains and make your clothes last longer.
Getting rid of stains
First things first, get to the stain as quickly as possible, Fryatt recommends.
“Don’t go home with a food stain and throw it in the hamper and come back to it a week later,” he says.
Instead, immediately treat the stain with whatever commercial stain-fighting product you have on hand. Rinse with water (cold is fine) and repeat before letting the garment air dry.
“I think that most of the retail-available stain fighters these days do a great job as far as trying to spray a fire hose over all the possible stains that are out there,” he says. “Even laundry detergents are advanced enough that they really do a good job of removing stains.”
If your first attempt doesn’t work, you’ll need to find a product that targets the specific type of stain – whether it’s protein-based, oil-based, a dye or a combination of multiple things.
“If it doesn’t come out, then you gotta try to get a little more specific with what it is,” Fryatt says.
Whatever you do, don’t put the garment in the dryer until you’re done working on the stain.
“If you let it dry and fester it’s just going to be that much more difficult to get out,” Fryatt says. “If it dries naturally, you should be in pretty good shape to try to work on it some more but if you dry it, nine out of 10 times you’re going to set it to some degree if not permanently at that point.”
Heat is not your friend
Heat doesn’t only set stains but it also limits the longevity of your clothing. Though hot water can be useful in certain laundry situations, it’s more the exception than the rule.
“Heat, whether water or temperature in a dryer, in general is an enemy to the fibers of our garments,” Fryatt says. “They don’t react well to high heat and you do a lot of damage with heat.”
So instead of throwing every load in the dryer, consider air drying. The old-fashioned technique has benefits beyond the energy you’ll save.
“It doesn’t leave them very soft but boy you’re going to save wear and tear,” Fryatt says.
If the stiffness is a problem, air dry your clothes most of the way and then tumble on medium heat for a few minutes until they’re completely dry.
Contrary to common belief, it’s not the heat that gets rid of wrinkles, Fryatt says. “The cool down is key to reducing wrinkles,” he says.
Labels, front-loaders and other tips
Obvious as it may seem, reading the label on each garment is key.
“Generally my advice and what we use here is we generally follow the manufacturer’s recommendations,” he says.
If you’re considering new laundry appliances, what you’ve heard about front-loaders with no agitator is probably true: They really are better for your clothes, Fryatt says. With today’s detergents, all of that twisting and pulling just isn’t necessary to get things clean.
“We can gently tumble them through the water,” he says. “If we can gently tumble these clothes over themselves in a bath, that gives us all the mechanical action if not more mechanical action than we could get out of an agitator that is twisting and tugging and pulling and abusing our clothes.”
And as for those tips and tricks you might have read about online – like adding salt to your wash to keep colors bright or using vinegar and baking soda instead of detergent – it doesn’t hurt to try, Fryatt says.
“I’m sure that they all have merit,” he says. “If you tried it and it’s working for you, keep doing it. It’s always worth a try.”
After all, he says, laundry is basically a series of experiments.
“Your water chemistry has a lot to do with it, too. It’s all an experiment. City water, well water,” he says. “I’m not an expert – I’m just a guy doing laundry.”
A relaxing morning at the laundromat
Before you spend your weekend getting caught up on laundry, you might consider an outing to a laundromat where you can use multiple machines at once. Fryatt says he’s talked to many customers who would rather dedicate a few hours there than deal with multiple trips up and down the stairs all day at home.
It’s a nice option for parents, too, who might appreciate a little alone time outside the house.
“I have people that come in and sit down in my lounge and read a book,” Fryatt says.
If it saves you time, it just might be worth the trip.
“Be realistic with the amount of time that you’re really spending on this,” he says. “It’s setting time aside and actually doing it – doing it at home or you come to the laundromat where we have replication of equipment – turn laundry day into laundry hour, as we say.”
Know when to hire it out
Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel (or the pile of towels) and get some professional help. Laundry Palace offers drop-off laundry service along with other local businesses. Because let’s face it: Sometimes there’s just not enough time to tackle that laundry pile alone.