10 Ways to Better Clean Your Clothes and Make Fabrics Last Longer

Skip the fancy products in your laundry room and choose natural alternatives that’ll make your clothes sparkle. Check out these simple, cost-effective tricks for getting your clothes cleaner.

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Photo By: Emily Fazio ©2016

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Photo By: PureWash

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Photo By: Shutterstock

Pretreat Stains

The best way - and the easiest - way to tackle stains is to immediately soak the items in cold water before laundering. Fill up the sink, and allow the clothing to sit for an hour before washing. For tougher discolorations, such as stains that didn’t come out during previous launderings, apply detergent, or a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution directly to the stain and allow it to set in before putting it in the wash. Learn more about pre-treating stains in this video.

Try Homemade and Natural Detergents

Natural laundry soap is great for washing fibers such as cotton and silk, and many homemade detergents are excellent for everyday use. Our favorite (shown above) is 1 grated Ivory soap bar mixed with 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of Borax. We also think you’ll go wild for all-natural DIY lemon detergent pods.

Cure Lingering Odors or Residues

For those hard-to-kill smells (we’re looking at you, pile of mildew-y towels and gym clothes), add a half-cup of baking soda to the wash cycle along with your normal detergent. The extra boost of absorbency will get rid of odors and residues left in clothing.

Install a Laundry Oxidization System

Purify your water as it enters the washer. An oxidization system not only helps to reduce or eliminate the amount of detergent you need to include in your wash, but it reduces the effects of hard water on your clothing. The conditioned water is great at lifting stains and soil from clothing, and items come out smelling, quite simply, unscented and perfectly clean. While there’s an upfront investment, the return is substantial.

Correct for Residue Left by Fabric Softeners

Sure, your clothing might be soft, but the build-up of residue from fabric softeners can wreak havoc on your favorite pieces. To strip it from your garments, add a cup of white vinegar diluted in a cup of water to your next load of laundry before you start the load.

Add Lemon Juice and Sunshine to Your Routine

Did you know that you can bleach clothes with lemon juice and sunshine? Just add a half-cup of lemon juice to your laundry during the rinse cycle, and hang clothes outside to dry on a blue-sky afternoon. Mr. Sun will do the rest of the job eliminating stains that didn’t come off in the wash.

Choose a Natural Bleach

Hydrogen peroxide is the main ingredient in color-safe bleach, but you don’t need to buy separate color-safe bleach product at the store to get the results. All you have to do is add a half-cup of hydrogen peroxide to the rinse cycle to whiten the whites and lift tough stains off colored clothing.

Make Your Own Laundry Starch

Choose a natural alternative to store-bought laundry starch, and make your own for mere pennies. For whites and light colors: dilute 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 1 cup of cup of water, and stir it to remove clumps. Once it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat, allow it to cool, and funnel it into a spray bottle. For dark clothing: Mix 1/2 cup of vodka with 1 cup of water and funnel it into the spray bottle (no heating required). Iron your garments as you would with any starch spray.

Use Wool Laundry Balls

Adding natural wool balls to your dryer can help to reduce energy usage, while simultaneously softening your laundry. Unlike dryer sheets, the balls agitate the laundry to help circulate the hot air and promote evaporation. They last a long time, too, upwards of 1,000 loads!

Hang Dry Your Laundry

The most efficient way to dry your clothing is to have dedicated areas for line drying your clothes - indoors and out. Whether it’s a slim-line drying rack that hides in a closet, or a handy retractable line that extends through a sunny spot in your backyard, promote sunlight stain treatments, and let your dryer have a day off while Mother Earth helps do the work.

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