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Towels that are no longer absorbent
Fix it: The most likely culprit is fabric softener. It can coat terry cloth with a waxy, water-resistant film that ruins the very mission of towels. To dissolve the buildup and restore the fluff, wash the towels the next few times with 1/4 cup white vinegar added to the rinse cycle, and skip the softener in the future.

Sweater with a bleach stain
Forget it: Sorry, you're out of luck. Your only choice is to dye the whole garment its original shade. Or, if the stain is tiny, try spot-dyeing with an eyedropper.

Load of whites turned pink (that *@#%&! red sock!)
Fix it: Soak the discolored stuff in a sink filled with water and bleach (10 parts water to 1 part bleach) or OxiClean (read the label for the amount). Check every 15 minutes or so and remove when white; 90 minutes should be more than enough. Then machine wash. Still pink? Try Rit Whitener and Brightener ($9,

Shrunken wool
Forget it: This is baaad. Unless the wool has been treated (the garment label will indicate this), the fibers constrict in water. There really is no remedy.

Load left sitting in the washer for 24 hours
Fix it: Rewash the load with 1 cup white vinegar (and no detergent) to kill the mildew odor.

Load left sitting in the dryer
Fix it: Don't worry—the wrinkles haven't set in forever. Toss in a damp, clean hand towel and run the dryer for a few minutes. The steam created should relax the wrinkles.