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Washing machine
Bad Habit: Letting Clothes Sit in the DryerThey'll wrinkle, forcing you to embrace the rumpled look or do extra ironing. Good practice: If you won't be there when the beeper goes off, put the dryer on extended tumble, which periodically tosses clothes, without heat, for a preset amount of time to prevent wrinkles. For dress shirts and pants, select permanent press, a setting that dries slowly, with low heat, and finishes with a cool-down period to minimize creases. (Some machines add an extended tumble to the end of the permanent-press cycle.) If your dryer doesn't have these options, or if you forget to use them, fluff a wrinkled load by throwing in a damp towel and restarting the dryer, says Steve Boorstein, the author of The Clothing Doctor's 99 Secrets to Cleaning & Clothing Care ($5,
| Credit: Monica Buck

Q. Do I have to wash my delicate clothes with a special detergent?
Dorothy Mills
Lake Forest, Illinois

A. If the care tag says “gentle cycle,” use a mild detergent. “Regular-formula liquid detergents have chemical additives that can harm delicate fibers,” says Linda Cobb, known as the Queen of Clean ( Cobb likes Woolite ($6.50, at supermarkets), but if you’re already using an all-natural detergent for regular loads, she recommends Mountain Green detergent ($10, at Whole Foods). “Green detergents are safe for any type of clothing because they are all natural, meaning they don’t contain chemicals that will harm those gentler items.”

For colorfast delicates that are stained, Cobb suggests treating them the natural way, using 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is just as effective as nonchlorine bleach. Pour ½ cup into a full load and your garments will sparkle. ―Elinor Smith

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