How to Fix Common Laundry Mistakes (And 2 That Are Beyond Repair)

Towels no longer absorbent or turned a load of laundry pink? Don't worry, there's a fix for that.

Who hasn't accidentally dyed an entire load of whites before? Laundry mistakes and mishaps are more common than you'd think, even when our parents told us to sort our laundry by lights and darks since we were kids. We're sharing some familiar laundry blunders and how you can hopefully fix them. Unfortunately, a couple of these errors are irreversible, so let this be your reminder to be careful lest you might ruin your favorite sweater.

Towels That Are No Longer Absorbent

Are you washing your towels the right way? If not, you could end up with dull, dingy, and non-absorbant linens after a while. The most likely culprit here is excess 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.

Whites Turned Pink

Fortunately, this pink dye job (or any other color for that matter) can be reversed in most cases. This error usually happens when a small colored item, like a red sock, gets stuck in your load of whites. To fix this, 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 ($7,

Basket of laundry dyed pink
GK Hart/Vicky Hart/Getty Images

Laundry Left Sitting in the Washer or Dryer

If you forgot a load in the washer for more than a day, chances are you'll be met with a musty smell once you re-open the washer. To fix this, simply rewash the load with 1 cup of white vinegar (and no detergent) to kill the mildew odor.

On the other hand, leaving clothes in the dryer for an extended period can create extra wrinkles. Don't worry—the wrinkles haven't set in forever. To save some time, toss in a damp, clean hand towel and run the dryer again for a few minutes. The steam created should relax most of the wrinkles. If your clothes aren't completely wrinkle-free, you'll have to steam or iron them by hand.

Bleach Stains

Sorry, you're mostly out of luck with this common and unfortunate laundry mistake. Your only choice is to dye the whole garment its original shade. Or, if the stain is tiny, try spot-dyeing with an eyedropper.

Shrunken Wool

This is a bad and potentially costly error. Unless the wool has been treated (the garment label will indicate this), the fibers constrict in water. There really is no remedy. To prevent this error in the future, make sure you decode the garment label and treat all dry clean items accordingly. (No dryer!)

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