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Laundry Basics

By HHI Staff

When you’re ready to wash your clothes and other washable household fabric items, certain laundry basics are worth keeping in mind. First, try using the least amount of soap or detergent necessary to do the job. This will make rinsing more effective and will save you money. Thorough rinsing is necessary so that cleaning-product residues don’t remain on fabric fibers. This gummy residue can act as a glue, attracting dirt particles, and it can abrade the fibers as well. It’s also a good idea to wash each load on the shortest and gentlest cycle of your washing machine that still offers effective cleaning. By doing this, you subject your machine washables to the least amount of wear and tear from the rotating agitator.


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Of course, it’s always best to sort your laundry items carefully to create loads that are similar in color, fiber, and fabric weight. You can use 100%-cotton laundry bags for this. Making your own out of pillow cases is a possibility too.


A more elaborate, and perhaps more efficient set up is to use a laundry sorter. Most consist of metal racks holding two or more removable, canvas laundry bags. A chromed tubular-steel version with 100%-cotton canvas bags can be ordered from various sources.


Furthermore, it’s often wise to use the lowest water levels at the coolest temperature settings that will still permit effective washing, in order to minimize problems with color fading and fabric shrinkage, and to save on water and energy costs. Of course, hot water is required to kill dust mites.


One final note, periodically check the hot and cold water supply hoses to your washer. These can fail as the rubber fatigues over time from the constant water pressure inside them. Sometimes you can spot an “aneurysm” before the hose actually breaks. This will appear as a bulging area. Even if you don’t spot a bulge, it’s a good idea to replace these hoses at least every three years so you don’t risk having gallons of water spill out onto your floor. When you replace them, consider using stainless-steel-mesh reinforced washer hoses. The outer metal mesh will not only make bursting far less likely but will help to seal in any new rubber odors. These types of washer hoses are sold in many hardware and building centers.


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The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


While an effort is made to ensure the quality of the content and credibility of sources listed on this site, HHI provides no warranty - expressed or implied - and assumes no legal liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product or process disclosed on or in conjunction with the site. The views and opinions of the authors or originators expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of HHI: its principals, executives, Board members, advisors or affiliates.

Laundry Basics:  Created on January 22nd, 2010.  Last Modified on February 27th, 2011


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