Read this quiz, then take your new-found knowledge for a spin (cycle).
Basket full of folded laundry
"I actually prefer to start a load of laundry right when I wake up in the morning," says Melissa Maker, creator of Clean My Space. That might not be feasible if you're getting kids on the bus or rushing out the door to work, but Maker's tactic can be applied to any busy schedule: "I try to weave a little bit of cleaning into my existing daily routine, and in this case, I break laundry down into three chunks," she says. That could mean loading the washing machine first thing, transferring the load to the dryer right after work, and folding the clothes after dinner. "That's only one load, but it helps me stay on top of things," she says.
| Credit: Stephen Lewis

1. True or false: When washing in a top-loader using liquid detergent, you should first fill with water, then add soap, then add clothes.

ANSWER: False.

This protocol from the past was meant to prevent residue on the fabric and the machine. But modern detergents are phosphate-free and not harmful to clothes the way old formulas were. As long as you're not using bleach, don't add clothing after the water (a pain, because clothes can float). Instead, use this order to distribute detergent best: clothes, then water, then soap.

2. To reduce lint, add ½ cup _______ to the rinse cycle.

(a) Distilled water

(b) White vinegar

(c) Tea-tree oil


The acidity of white vinegar prevents lint from sticking to fabric.

3. What do these items have in common? A T-shirt with a transfer design, an embellished swimsuit, and dark jeans.

(a) They should all be line-dried.

(b) They should all be washed in cold water.

(c) They should all be washed inside out.


Turning them inside out prevents fading and protects embellishments.

4. True or false: It's best to let a dryer "rest" for an hour before putting in a new load.

ANSWER: False.

Running back-to-back dryer loads is smart and efficient. It lets you take advantage of retained heat from the previous cycle, cutting down on energy usage.