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I know…what the heck does laundry have to do with romance?

Nothing. Unless, of course, having your significant other do the laundry gets your motor reeving.

So, what does laundry have to do with writing?

Nothing. Unless your house is like mine and the laundry gremlins come out, inevitably on a Saturday night.

I generally do a load a day. Yet somehow I’ll go to bed Saturday night, the laundry bins (for the wee beasties to sort whites, lights, and darks) basically empty, only to wake Sunday morning to the gremlins’ handiwork. I must traverse mountains, cross valleys, wade through streams, and sail an ocean of laundry (the bins still basically empty) just to get from my bedroom to the blessed coffee downstairs. The scent of brewing coffee calling to me as I journey past the laundry area.

What that means, besides a crappy floor plan, is a great excuse to lock myself in my writing space to work in between loads, and loads, of laundry. It also makes sure I get up at regular intervals as I take the laundry outside to line dry (yay for being green). And, of course, returning to my cave writing space takes me past the kitchen so it’s also the perfect time to refill the ol’ glass of water.

What that means is I have a lot of experience doing laundry and I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way.

  1. Fels-Naptha is the BEST pre-treatment product out there. It worked on every mess I encountered when the wee beasties were babies and saved more than a few outfits, LOL.
  2. Contrary to most detergents and washing machines, you want to use COLD water on every stain, including blood, with the exception of fruit. For most stains just running cold water from the tap through the stain will do it. For extra tough stains, suds up some Fels-Naptha, rub the cloth together to spot clean the area, allow to sit a minute, and wash. You also want to wash in cold water which isn’t only economical but better for getting out general stains.
  3. You want to use HOT, as in boiling if you can, water on fruit stains. This includes tomato and tomato based sauces, wine, and fruit juices (and no, Kool-Aid isn’t a fruit juice). Running hot water from your tap and letting the hot water rinse the stain out is easiest (though some stains may need the boost of using the Fels-Naptha) followed by washing like usual in cold water.
  4. For wine on the carpet, boil up some water and pour over the stain, blotting with a clean towel (repeat as needed until stain is gone). Ditto with wine stains in clothing, pour boiling water over stain until gone then wash as usual in cold water.
  5. If the stain doesn’t come out the first time, DO NOT put the clothing into the dryer. That will just set the stain and no amount of pre-treating will help.
  6. Fabric softeners (liquid and dryer sheets) will actually decrease the absorbancy of your towels over time. Can cause a buildup in your machines adding to wear and tear, and possibly decreasing their longevity. And DO NOT use fabric softeners on flame-retardant clothes, like children’s pajamas. I’ve also found stains are harder to get out of clothing subjected to fabric softeners.
  7. Liquid bleach is tough on material and some fabrics actually stain with the use of bleach. I do admit I use liquid bleach on the undies and socks. House of boys…need I say more? To make sure I don’t damage other clothing in the next load, I don’t use the bleach dispenser on the machine and always run an extra rinse cycle on my bleach loads, and followed by a sheet or towel load if I can but, at the very least, a light colored load.
  8. I know the faded look is popular — or is that just my kid? — but if you want to keep you denim from bleeding and fading soak in salt water (or a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar) before the first wash. Turn the jeans inside out and wash as usual in cold water. The salt water trick works with most dark colors you want to keep from bleeding and fading. (Not that we’re washing in warm or hot water anymore, right?)
  9. “Trolls exist! They steal your socks. But only the left ones. What’s with that?” — Gobber from How to Train Your Dragon To avoid the sock stealing trolls, each family member has a mesh bag to put their socks in. I tie off the bags, drop into the wash, and presto. It also makes it so much easier to tell whose socks are whose (as each bag is color coded) which is a sanity saver with five males all wearing similar styles, not to mention socks not having readily displayed sizes.
  10. As I mentioned, I line dry (click on the picture source for a great article on how), probably 95% of the time. It’s thrifty and, heck, I have the sun and wind power of ol’ Mother Earth working for me. But you don’t need a sunny day. String a clothesline in your garage, basement, or covered patio. You can even reuse an old oven rack, cleaned of course, strung up to a beam or rafter to hang clothes. When I do use my dryer, I add a couple of tennis balls (kept just for this purpose) to each load. Believe it or not, it cuts drying time by 25% or more, and that saves money.

Do you have any laundry tips or tricks to share?