Friday, March 20, 2009

Laundry, Babies, and Toddlers: Tips and Tricks

If your kids are anything like mine, they get their clothes (and occasionally mine) really dirty. Fortunately, I was raised by a laundry guru who passed on her stain removal tricks – and I’ve learned a couple tricks of my own. Here are my favorites:

  • Pre-treat stains with a Spray N Wash Stain Stick. The great thing about using a stain stick is that you can put it on right when you take dirty clothes off and then wait up to a week before washing the outfit – and it will still work. I’m much more likely to remember a stain as I’m removing the outfit than I am while loading the washing machine with two toddlers eagerly “helping”. I keep our stain stick in my dresser, not in the laundry room. Stain stick works great on getting ball point pen out of clothing. It’s a great way to remove chocolate and other greasy stains, too.
  • Add OxiClean to any load that might have any stains. OxiClean is a great way to remove grass, grape juice, blood, and dirt stains from clothing. You can use OxiClean to pretreat clothing by wetting a toothbrush and dipping it in the detergent and then scrubbing the clothing. Just run a spot check first and make sure the toothbrush is well out of reach of children. I don’t do this where my kids can see, either, since I don’t want them using their toothbrushes creatively.
  • DO NOT pre-treat any marks on clothing that come from washable markers or crayons. Pre-treating can set the stain from these products, which should wash out perfectly if you leave them alone.
  • If a stain doesn’t come out, air dry the item and try again. Putting stained clothes in the dryer sets the stain.
  • You can get pretty much anything out of white clothing with regular bleach, just make sure to rinse the bleach out thoroughly. Regular bleach is so toxic that it scares me, though, so I don’t usually have any in the house.
  • Stick tiny baby and toddler socks in Mesh Laundry Bags (sometimes called mesh lingerie bags) before washing to keep pairs together.
  • If you dry a load of laundry with a crayon, you can get it out by running the load through a HOT wash with a little laundry detergent and some oxiclean. Toothpaste and a toothbrush works wonders at getting crayon out of a dryer drum. It even smells nice. Run a load of rags to remove any remaining crayon/toothpaste before running a load of clothes you care about. I once washed and dried FOUR crayons that my darling daughter had put in her pockets. I hadn’t even thought to check her pockets, as she was only one and I didn’t think she knew what pockets were for…

Have any other laundry tricks to share? I’d love to hear – ESPECIALLY if you know how to get out gel pen. That’s one stain I can only get out through lots of repeat washes!

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