5 Laundry Hacks for Busy Parents

As parents, one of the biggest chores on our list is always laundry. From the sheer volume of it to stains we aren’t quite sure how to get out, it can get pretty daunting. Here’s a couple ways to make that just a little easier. By the way, everything I’ve ever learned about how to get clothes as clean as possible has come from Facebook! All of this knowledge has been gained over time from Laundry Love and Cleaning Science, a Facebook group.

1. Pine Sol? In my washing machine?
If you haven’t used it before, you may not know that this classic floor cleaner also has directions (on the label) for how to use it on your laundry! It’s especially great at getting out tough odors and grease stains. You can use it as a pre-treatment or you can put a quarter to half a cup directly into the drum or detergent drawer of your machine (but only in these two places!). Be sure that the Pine-Sol you get has the laundry directions, however. This is only in the original scent, and while you may smell it pretty strongly while it’s washing, never fear… it simply leaves your clothes smelling very clean once they’re dry.

2. Stinky Shoes? No problem.
If your kid (or partner) clears the room when they take their shoes off, you’re definitely not alone. Most of the time, these odors are caused by bacteria. So to clear the odor off your feet, Germ-X or any similar alcohol-based hand sanitizer will work well. For the shoes themselves, put them in a plastic grocery bag, tie them up, and throw them in the freezer overnight. If that doesn’t work, and they’re not leather or suede, you can either throw them in the washer or soak them in a bucket with some good detergent and an enzyme cleaner like Biz. Shape them as you take them out, and dry them in the sun. Leather and suede shoes are a bit trickier as the material can get ruined by a lot of cleaners. Try baking soda or an odor-eater spray/powder inside the shoes. And no matter what the material, always make sure your shoes are completely dry before you put them on, every time.

3. Getting that stain OUT – no matter what it is
Being a kid means you stain stuff. It’s just a fact of life. Being a parent means dealing with those stains, and it ain’t always easy. Until now.  First things first, with any stain, don’t throw that piece of clothing in the dryer until the stain is gone, or it’s there for good.
If it’s an oil-based stain, dish soap will work well before throwing it in the washer.  If it was too tough for the likes of Dawn, try rubbing a Fels Naptha bar into the stain and letting those two mingle for a few before laundering again.
For protein stains (like pretty much anything that comes out of your kids body) baby formula or breast milk, enzymes are key. Tide, Gain, powdered Foca (my personal fave, since it’s dirt cheap), and Persil all have enzymes in them. Biz will help as an additive! Make sure you wash it on cold as heat will set protein stains forever.
Grass stains are no match for Shout for your colorful clothes, or plain ol’ bleach for your bleachables. If it’s particularly tough, soak them in a detergent/cold water mixture for a couple hours before laundering.
Wine stains?  If it’s still damp, applying salt to the stain will help pull out some of that liquid. Also effective: a baking soda paste, or white wine! For real. That last one works.

4. Cleaning Mr. Snuggles, or your kid’s favorite lovey
Good news: most stuffed animals can be thrown right in the washing machine. If it’s not electronic and has normal stuffing in it (not beads), your kid’s fave stuffed animal will be fine. Check the tag to make sure. Throw it in a laundry bag and treat for stains accordingly. If it’s electronic (I’m so sorry) or something like a Beanie Baby, spot clean only with a damp rag and some laundry detergent dissolved in water. Fair warning though: cleaning any stuffed animal will definitely change the look of the fur. You may be able to negate that by taking a toothbrush to it before you dry it.

5. Ditch that homemade laundry soap!
I’m pretty sure every single one of us has seen or been given a recipe for laundry detergent. Most of them contain a grated laundry bar, oxygen cleaners, borax, and all sorts of other stuff. What those recipes don’t contain is detergent! See, soap and detergent are not one and the same. Detergent takes the dirt and stains and helps them dissolve into the water as they wash. They’re formulated for porous things like cloth. Soaps are not! They will build up in your clothes just like a ring around the tub. That’s why the directions for laundry bars say to rinse thoroughly before laundering. Soaps like those do not rinse cleanly. They work well as a pre-treatment, but not to actually get your clothes clean. As for all the boosters, without detergent, they have nothing to boost. If you’re using the homemade stuff to save money, Foca is a FANTASTIC laundry detergent that you can find for about $4 a bag at any major grocery or dollar store.