Although clothing stains can be very stubborn, they can almost always be removed if dealt with promptly and properly. First, act quickly. The sooner you get to the stain, the more likely you are to get it out.
There are several natural cleaners you probably already keep in your home. Lemons can help whiten. White damask napkins, linens, and even socks can be whitened on the stove: Fill a pot with water and a few slices of fresh lemon; bring the water to a boil. Turn off heat, add linens, and let soak for up to an hour; launder as usual. For extra brightening, spread them out in the sunlight to dry.
An effective cleaner, deodorizer, and fabric softener, baking soda in a paste (mix 4 tablespoons baking soda and an equal amount of water), when applied to stains, can absorb odors and help break down grease. Presoak new clothes (1/4 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water) to eliminate factory residue.
Empty pockets and turn them inside out, unfurl socks, and unroll cuffs. Tie sashes and strings to prevent tangling. Place delicate items like lingerie and fine knitwear in zippered mesh bags. Turn delicate items, sweaters, and cotton T-shirts inside out to prevent pilling.
Turn dark, fade-prone clothes (such as jeans) inside out, as abrasion from rubbing against other clothes can cause fibers to fray, making clothes look faded. Open up button-down collars to reduce wear along folds.
Remove clothes from the dryer while still slightly damp, then allow to air dry. A humidifier can cut down on electrical charges by putting moisture into the air. If the clothes you're wearing are clinging, mist the air with water from a spray bottle, then walk through it to discharge the static. Antistatic spray coats the surface of the fabric with salts that absorb moisture in the air. Dryer sheets also help inhibit static, better than fabric softeners.
You can wash down items using a large, front-loading machine. To do it by hand, fill a bathtub with lukewarm water and add detergent, using the minimum amount recommended for hand-washing loads. Gently squeeze the soapy water through the down-filled article, then drain the wash water. Rinse with fresh cool water, refilling the tub if necessary.
After rinsing items completely, press out the water by hand, or use a washing machine's Spin cycle. Do not wring. Tumble dry on low heat for a few hours until completely dry. Add several clean, dry towels to help absorb moisture and speed the drying process. Clean tennis balls stuffed in clean cotton socks added to the dryer will help break up clumps of filling.
Harsh detergents can irritate newborn skin, so use the mildest product possible. Soaps such as Ivory and Lux are made to leave fabric soft, and they contain few unnecessary additives that can cause irritation. But because they also are less alkaline than detergents, they don't have very strong cleaning properties. This means you might have to live with a few stains, especially in the early months. When treating stains, use the mildest product possible to do the job.
Finally, green equals clean. Martha Stewart Clean Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener keep your clothing clean, bright, and soft without using harmful ingredients. They work in standard and high-efficiency machines and are priced for your budget. Effective. Responsible. Safe.
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