Running Shoes

I normally throw my running shoes in the washer with my towels, I stuff the laces in the shoes and then air dry in my laundry room (which warmer than anywhere else in my house).  I know most don’t recommend this because they say it shortens the life of the shoes.  However my theory is my quality of life if not my life itself will be shorter if I have hand wash my or my kids shoes.  I even recently washed my sons Nike hi-tops in the wash with great success.

If you want to try by hand if you have the time or inclination use a soft brush and use some of the tips listed below:

Prepare a solution of water and a neutral cleaner (such as liquid dish-washing detergent or use laundry soap and water mixture).

Remove laces and inserts and rinse the shoes with water inside and out.

Use a soft brush and the cleaning solution to scrub every part of both shoes, including liners and insoles.

Remove scuff marks with a white nylon-backed scrub pad.

Rinse the shoes thoroughly with water.

Stuff the shoes with paper (not newspaper the ink will run and make a mess) to absorb excess water and to help the shoes keep their shape. Allow them to drip-dry.

Wash the laces in a load of laundry. Allow the inserts to air out, and apply baking soda to them if they’re smelly.

Replace the inserts and laces after the shoes dry completely.

Apply white cream shoe polish to white leather and black polish to black leather parts.

Colorfast Clothes??

How can I be sure a new article of clothing is colorfast and what is the test when using color safe bleach?

This is mostly common sense, but there are also some simple tests that take very little time to be sure your clothing is not damaged when washing or bleaching.

With a new article of clothing, especially on vibrant colors, always do this quick test before washing for the first time. Moisten an inside seam, and rub with a white cotton towel or a cotton ball. If any of the color transfers to the white cloth or ball, treat this article of clothing like dynamite. It has the potential to turn sports socks pink, make blue jeans purple, and other wise ruin perfectly good clothing.

Wash separately, according to the manufacturers label. One garment can be easily laundered in a sink to save energy, instead of running your washer with only one piece of clothing in it! Wash in cold water to prevent the dye from running out, and follow the label for drying. If the clothing cannot be placed in a dryer, wrap it up in an old terry towel, to remove as much moisture as possible, before laying flat to dry. Hanging a non-colorfast garment to dry, may leave dye run marks. For articles of clothing that can be placed in a dryer, the heat will usually set the color, making the piece colorfast, but to be certain, re-test before the next laundering.

As for bleaches, the two most common types are chlorine (whites) and oxygen (all-fabric) based. For either of these you will mix a small amount to use as a tester. For whites mix a tablespoon of chlorine bleach in a cup of water, for colors mix 1 teaspoon of all fabric bleach to a cup of water. Place a drop on an inside seam, or on a shirttail. Allow the drop to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and check to see if the color has lightened. If it does not change color, it is safe to treat with that type of bleach. You can add the remaining test mixture into the wash water, but always be sure to follow the manufacturers directions for dilution rates.

The complete list of what all those laundry symbols stand for can be found at http://www.textileaffairs.com/lguide.htm

Gum from clothes

A quick idea to remove gum from clothing items is to freeze the garment.  And then gentle scrape off the gum when frozen.  Less chance of damage using chemicals etc.

Fabric Softener, Dryer Sheets

Why use fabric softener or dryer sheets? To soften your fabrics and protect them from getting static cling. Liquid fabric softener has to be put into your washer during the rinse cycle.  Not before or after, doesn’t work well for me since I never am sitting beside the washer to time it correctly. Or dryer sheets, these are specially coated paper with fabric softeners that are released in the heat of your dryer to soften your clothes and protect them from static cling. Dryer sheets are available in a variety of brands and scents. Whether you buy a name brand, store brand or bargain brand dryer sheet only matters if you are interested in some of the added benefits they offer. Some dryer sheets also provide added stain protection to your clothing or an anti-wrinkling agent that will reduce the need to iron. Once your clothes are dry don’t throw that dryer sheet away! It still has many uses.

Used dryer sheets are great for dusting. They are useful on surfaces that attract static electricity, such as your computer or television screen. This will help keep the dust from resettling because of the ingredients in the dryer sheet that prevent static cling. They can also be used on any surface that can be dry dusted and you can just throw it away when you are finished. They are great for blinds, the inside of your car and wood surfaces as well (use dry). Another great way to use them is for picking up cat hair. One unique way to reuse a dryer sheet is to dampen it and rub it over your pantyhose. It will keep your slip and/or skirt from clinging to your legs! Used or new dryer sheets are great on any surface you want to eliminate static.

Eliminate odors with your new and used dryer sheets! They can be used in drawers or cupboards. You can even hang one up in your closet to keep it smelling fresh. Just place a few used dryer sheets in your sock drawer and it will help your drawer and clothing stay smelling dryer fresh.  You can also put a used or new dryer sheet in your laundry basket to keep the dirty laundry from smelling bad. They are great for stuffing into stinky sneakers too. Keep a used dryer sheet in the bottom of your wastebasket can to eliminate trash odors. It’s also a good idea to put a dryer sheet in your suitcases to keep out musty odors while they are stored.

Black Clothes dull….

You can refresh your black clothes by adding bluing, or strong coffee, or tea (2 cups) to the rinse water. Although I prefer the bluing (found in the laundry section of most stores) to Grandmas old fashioned method of coffee or tea…I prefer to drink my coffee.  Actually with two young kids and a full-time job I NEED to drink my coffee!

They should return to their original dark black state. To prevent future fading, wash them in cold water, with Ivory Flakes plus only a small amount of detergent.

Remove hard water deposits

How do you know if you have hard water or you remove hard water deposits ? Some clues are bathtub rings, crusty deposits on faucets and shower heads, streaked or cloudy dishware.  Typically in hard water you need more soap to create the lather up reaction for your soap.  This why if you live in an area with soft water you don’t need as much soap to wash dishes and or do the laundry.  Soft water is also easier on dishwashers, water heaters and washing machines and they will last longer.  If you live in an area with hard water you may want to look at installing a water softener.

What type is your water? The Water Quality Association of the United States defines hard water as having dissolved mineral hardness of 1 GPG (grain per gallon) or more. Here is a helpful table to show the hardness of water:

Soft Water- less than 1 gpg

Slightly Hard- 1-3.5 gpg

Moderately Hard- 3.5-7 gpg

Very Hard- 7-10 gpg

Extremely Hard- over 10 gpg

Basic stain removal tip…

When applying stain-removing solutions to fabric, it’s best to work at the stain from the back of the fabric and not the front. Never scrub or rub either, this just drives stain deeper into the fabric. Alway tamp or blot your stains away…

Refresh white socks using this old time remedy…

Return white socks to sparkling white by boiling them in a saucepan with a few slices of lemon. The lemon is a natural bleach. Dishwasher detergent also whitens socks – just add a little to the regular wash load.  Give this old remedy a try but truthfully when you think about it, it maybe better to just buy new socks if you have to go to these lengths to get them look white again…

Grey Laundry

Had a question recently submitted asking about grey or dull clothes after washing.

Besides just having old or worn out items of clothes that you just can’™t bear to part with here are some ideas to address grey or yellowing in your laundry:

  • Try increasing the amount of detergent, depending on the hardness of your water you would need more or less detergent.
  • Increase the temperature or use bleach for whites.
  • Use a color safe bleach for colors.
  • Try using a bluing agent to brighten up laundry too.  Some popular bluing agents are Mrs. Stewart, Bluette, and Reckitts blue.

Natural Laundry Whitening Tips

Baking Soda

To whiten clothing with baking soda, add about ½ cup into the wash plus your regular detergent. Clothes will come out whiter and brighter without chemicals.


Vinegar is another wonder ingredient you can use to whiten clothes naturally without bleach. If the smell scares you, don’t worry, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar. The smell may linger in your washing machine for a bit but your clothes won’t smell.

Simply add about ¾ cup of vinegar to your wash along with your regular detergent to whiten clothes naturally without bleach.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide is an excellent alternative to bleach and can be used successfully to whiten clothes naturally without bleach.

Add about ½ cup to your wash with regular detergent and your clothes will come out as whiter than ever.


Borax is often advertised as a laundry brightener and can be found in your grocery store’s laundry aisle. It’s a naturally occurring mineral that has long been valued for its whitening properties. Borax is used in all sorts of natural cleaning products. I use it to clean anything from toilets to dishes. But most of all, it will whiten clothes naturally without bleach.

Add about ½ cup of Borax to a regular load of laundry, along with your regular detergent for whiter, brighter clothes instantly.


That’s right!  Sunlight is one of the best tools we have available to whiten clothes naturally without bleach. If you have a clothes line, simply hang your clothing out to dry in the warm sun. The sun will whiten and  refresh your clothes like nothing else.

For the best whitening results, wash your clothes with regular detergent plus one of the above mentioned natural laundry whiteners. Then, hang the clothes out to dry in the sun. You’ll be amazed at how much whiter they are and it was all done without bleach or harsh chemicals.

Coffee Stains on Clothes

Remove coffee stains from clothes : If you spill coffee on  clothes or fabric rule number one is to rinse with cool water.  For just plain black coffee blot with cool water and or rinse.  If you don’t have a chance to get to the stain quickly you may have some additional steps. Try blotting with mild detergent and rinsing with cool water.  For coffee with milk or cream blot or pre-treat with enzyme based pre-spotter and launder.  Always inspect the fabric before drying, drying in dryer will often set the coffee stain.  Even if you don’t have time to try a second attempt at removing the stain allowing the fabric to air dry will give you another chance at removing the coffee stain stain later.


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