If you follow me on social media, you know that I am a self-professed laundry geek. Some might argue I'm a laundry snob, which would be fair. I'm quite particular about how my laundry is done - while I hate putting it away, I actually enjoy doing the sorting, stain treating, washing, and drying. To foster my own personal interest in the science of laundry, I joined a few serious cleaning groups on Facebook. Whoa, nelly; I knew nothing! These folks have the laundry game down! I've picked up a few tips throughout my life (some from my mom, some from these cleaning groups). and I want to share what works for us. Hopefully you can get some use out of these tricks, too!
Ditch The Fabric Softener
Okay, here's the skinny: fabric softener isn't really absolutely necessary for any clothes, period. Yes, it does tend to cut down on static. But it can also really jack with your laundry - especially if you're using it heavily. Not only can fabric softener coat your machine and attract grossness, it can clog up your towels! Fabric softener works by coating fibers, and that makes these fibers water-resistant. It's not a big deal if we're talking about shirts or pants, but it's a real buzzkill when you're talking about towels. This is my personal pet peeve, and probably why I listed it first. If you'd like to add scent, try the scent boosters - they're safe for absorbent fibers.
Sort By Size
Instead of sorting by color families, try sorting your laundry mostly by size of items. Except for pure white items (or brand-new clothes), there's very little reason to sort by color. Detergent is designed to cling to particles and prevent them from depositing on other materials, so color bleeding isn't typically a serious concern. However, small items can get wrapped up inside larger items (like towels, blankets, or pants) and that will prevent proper agitation. Your kiddos can get in on this one if they can find a sock upon request.
Bluing Not Bleach
If you'd like to keep your whites extra sparkly and bright, you can use a bit of bleach in each wash. However, bleach can be harsh and can actually cause yellowing over time. My mom always used Mrs. Stewart's Bluing on her whites. by adding a blue tint to the laundry, whites appear brighter and lose any signs of yellowing. (Also you can use this to wash your white-haired dogs and it's safe and it's old-timey.)
Bulking Is Best
One of the most important components of laundry is achieving proper agitation. In washing machines, clothes are cleaned of debris by rubbing against one another. Depending on your machine, you might have to add different sizes of loads, or even physically measure your drum, to achieve proper agitation. Read your manuals, folks!
Clean Your Machine
Once a month, run the longest and hottest cycle on your machine and toss in a cleaning tab or bleach. Some machines even allow use of a sanitize cycle - again, read the manual. (Are you seeing a trend there?) I personally prefer the Affresh washing machine tablets. Finish your cleaning by wiping down any seals or gaskets to remove gunk. This cleaning cycle is important because it will prevent any buildup on your machine that would prevent your clothes from getting clean.
I'm going to stop here - not because I can't go into more detail (I can and I will), but because laundry geekdom is intense to the unindoctrinated. Why does anyone care so much about their laundry? I don't know, honestly. I have a bloodhound nose, so I can smell dirty laundry and it skeeves me out. Everybody has their thing - this is mine. And I own it. I'm totally a laundry geek - and I'm going to share with you all my laundry knowledge. Buckle up.