Laundry Tips

Essential Laundry Products

You probably have these items in your arsenal, but you may not know these handy tips.

By Sarah Stebbins
Illustration of laundry on a lineCarey Sookocheff

All-Purpose Detergent

Liquids dissolve well and can pretreat stains, so they’re more versatile than powders. Allergies? Opt for fragrance-free formulas.

 

Mild Detergent

Most have a neutral or near- neutral pH, meaning the detergent is low-alkaline. (The more alkaline, the harsher it is on clothes.)

 

Chlorine Bleach

Do not use on nylon or spandex, as it may cause yellowing. Never use with ammonia; this mixture produces poisonous fumes.

 

Oxygen Bleach

Safe for most fabrics, its stain-fighting power comes from hydrogen peroxide rather than toxic chemicals.

 

Ammonia

For grass and blood stains, mix ½ ounce with 1 ounce detergent and 16 ounces water in a spray bottle. Apply to spot, then wash.

 

Pretreatment Product

Apply liquid formulas just before washing. Sticks can be used a week in advance. Both will work magic on grease stains and more.

 

Fabric Softener

The chemicals in fabric softener can build up, so don’t add it to every wash―and use half the recommended amount.

 

Stain Stick

Coffee spilled onto your shirt? This helper lets you wipe out food and drink stains immediately. Keep one in your purse.

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