The internet is filled with laundry hacks that don't work. They promise to save time and relieve you from drudgery. Unfortunately, many of the hacks don't work because they're not based on the simple science of caring for fabrics.
To help you avoid wasting time on fake laundry hacks, we rounded up the best tips that actually work and will help you do laundry like a pro. They'll save you money and time, make your clothes look better and last longer, and prevent potential laundry mishaps.
01 of 19
Perform Laundry Magic With Vinegar
You probably have a bottle of distilled white vinegar in your kitchen that you use for cooking or cleaning. Grab it or buy another one to keep in the laundry room. (Tip: It's the best laundry hack for white clothes.)
Distilled white vinegar is nearly essential for laundry to look clean and bright each time it comes out of the washer. Here are a few ways to use it:
- Add 1 cup of vinegar to the final rinse to remove detergent residue that leaves white and colored fabrics looking dull and feeling scratchy.
- Add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle will help make mildew and body odors disappear from clothing.
- Use vinegar to help remove marks from hemlines that you've changed again and again.
- Add a couple of cups of vinegar to a hot water wash cycle to reduce microbes that make a front-load washer stink. (This is best for light odors—for truly overpowering smells, you may need a stronger cleaner.)
02 of 19
Keep Socks From Disappearing
You can make your life so much easier and keep your socks paired up by using a mesh laundry bag to wash them. This is a great tip for baby socks and any small items.
Just load the bag and toss it in the washer and then straight into the dryer. No more single socks.
03 of 19
Deodorize With Baking Soda
When you buy that replacement box of baking soda for the fridge, get an extra one for the laundry room. Baking soda can boost the performance of your laundry products and even replace a few.
- If commercial fabric softeners leave your towels less than absorbent, use baking soda instead in the rinse cycle.
- Boost the whitening and cleaning power of both chlorine and oxygen bleach by adding one cup of baking soda to the wash water when using bleach.
- Clean away the gunk on the bottom of your iron with baking soda without leaving any scratches.
04 of 19
Dry Clothes Faster
No one likes the realization that the one item you need or want to wear was missed during the weekend laundry run. Not only do you need it clean, but you need it to dry as quickly as possible too. Before you toss it in the dryer, add a couple of dry bath towels. They will help absorb some of the moisture and speed up the drying process.
Another tip: If you hand-washed a single garment, put it in your kitchen salad spinner and give it several spins to help it dry more quickly. This will remove more moisture without excessive wringing and twisting which can damage fabrics and leave lots of wrinkles.Continue to 5 of 19 below.
05 of 19
Use Ice to Remove Wrinkles
Forgetting to remove the clothes from the dryer inevitably leads to wrinkles. So what do you do when the shirt you planned to wear today is filled with them and you don't have time to iron?
Remove all of the other clothes and toss a handful of ice cubes into the dryer along with the wrinkled shirt. Tumble for at least 10 minutes on high heat.
When the cycle is finished, immediately remove the shirt and hang it up. Smooth the collar, cuffs, and seams with your hands. You just made your own steam dryer. The steam created by the melting ice relaxes the fibers and helps wrinkles vanish.
06 of 19
Leave Laundry-Day Notes
Even if your laundry room is tiny, you have a built-in message center. Just use erasable, whiteboard markers in eye-catching colors to make notes on the washer or dryer lids for yourself or others. When you enlist kids or teenagers to help with laundry, they may not know every tip you do. Help them avoid disasters by leaving notes of what can and cannot be put in the dryer.
To remove the messages from lids, just use a whiteboard eraser or old cloth. If the shadows of the ink remain, wipe down the finish with a bit of rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. For tough-to-remove ink, make a paste of baking soda and rubbing alcohol and scrub with a soft cloth. Or, use a melamine sponge to get rid of traces when you need to write new notes.
07 of 19
Use Conditioner to Reverse a Shrunken Sweater
Sometimes disaster strikes. Whether it was an accident or someone not knowing that wool and dryers don't mix, somehow your favorite sweater ended up in the hot dryer and now it is a size (or two) too small.
Not to worry. Simply mix a solution of cool water and hair conditioner and submerge the shrunken sweater. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes. The hair conditioner will help relax the wool fibers so you can gently pull the sweater back to its original shape.
08 of 19
Double Your Dryer Sheets
If you love your dryer sheets, then you know they aren't that cheap. Here's a way to double your stash: cut them in half. You don't need a whole dryer sheet for all loads of laundry. You may want a whole one for a large load so pop two halves in. To keep those half dryer sheets stored neatly, place them in an empty tissue box dispenser.Continue to 9 of 19 below.
09 of 19
Retrieve Missing Socks and Underwear
Do you want to know an amazing washing machine hack that will solve the mystery of where most of your missing socks and wayward pairs of underwear have escaped to? Don't always blame the dryer; they may have gone missing between the cracks of your washer's inner tub and walls.
For front-loading washers, you might try to find these items between the door gasket and inner drum. It may take a little finessing to grab back your items. Consult your owner's manual to find out how to access these black holes in your washer. (Though for a front-loading washer, you could try lifting the gasket out of the way.) You might be surprised what you'll find there.
10 of 19
Save Every Last Drop
Don't waste the liquid laundry detergent that's stuck or dripping out of your bottles. There are a couple of hacks to corral all that detergent, and it's a significant amount you're throwing out, but who knew?
- Pry out the pour spout: You may think your bottle is empty, right? If you use a pair of plyers to grab and remove the plastic pour spout at the opening of your bottle. The design of most pour spouts prevents the last of the detergent from pouring out. You'll be surprised to see how much detergent is left in your bottle. You can also try prying the spout out with a flathead screwdriver or butter knife.
- Cut a hole in the bottle: Access the last drops of detergent by using a utility knife to carefully cut a small triangular notched opening underneath the pour spout or somewhere closer to the bottom of the bottle.
- Save the drips: Does your economy-sized detergent bottle drip because it's on its side for convenience? Catch the dripping liquid with a plastic cap or cup that sits right under the spout. Poke two holes across from each other in a plastic cap/cup. Create a little hanging basket out of the cap/cup by fishing wire through and securing it at each end. Hang the cap/cup right up under the spout.
11 of 19
Hang a Quick and Easy Drying Rod
No room for a drying rack in your laundry room? If your laundry room is in the basement, look up for room. Grab a scrap piece of wood or trim from another project and nail it up to your joists. Now there's plenty of room to hang some clothes on hangers to air-dry that aren't meant for the dryer.
12 of 19
Fold Your Laundry Better
Folding laundry hacks were made popular by Marie Kondo, the guru of all things organizational. Her KonMari Method encourages folding clothes into tiny packets so they fit better into smaller spaces. But, it may not be very practical in the laundry room when you want to get in and out fast and efficiently.
So how do you fold your laundry quickly when it comes out of the dryer? You don't if you want to properly fold clothing to get out the wrinkles. But you can get a lot better and quicker at it with practice and if you have the right tool in your laundry room or nearby: a flat, counter-height surface.Continue to 13 of 19 below.
13 of 19
Avoid Creases With a Pool Noodle Hanger Hack
Creases happen when you hang your tablecloth, filmy scarves, curtains, and the like over a hanger to dry. But the antidote to pesky creasing in all the wrong places is the pool noodle.
Cut a piece down to the size of the hanger you're using. Use a utility knife to slice the noodle open lengthwise to slip over the bottom bar of the hanger. But don't put your item directly on top of the noodle or the color may bleed onto the fabric.
Cover the noodle with a white towel or an old sheet to protect the item you're putting on the hanger to dry.
14 of 19
Close Those Skinny Gaps
Chances are there are a few narrow gaps between your washer and dryer or between appliances and the walls that can easily be closed to make laundry time more efficient. Here are a few choice ideas:
- Fill a gap with a slim rolling supply cart (they come as slim as 5 inches wide to fit into tiny spaces).
- Push a pool noodle or foam pipe insulation (at home improvement stores) between the space to stop items from dropping between the cracks.
- Put a laundry guard on top of your front-loading washer and dryer to prevent items from falling behind the appliances. Guards can be purchased and they're made of plastic. Or fashion your own DIY version out of wood, acrylic, or another material that you can stand up at the back and sides of your appliances to act as a guard rail.
- For top-loading machines, close the gap from the back control panels of the appliances by placing a long shelf behind the panels. It also becomes a storage space for supplies, just make sure the lids don't bang into the shelf when they are open.
15 of 19
Use Wool Balls Instead of Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets may not be right for your household. Instead, turn to wool balls, and better yet, make them. Think of wool balls as kinder, gentler tennis balls you put in your dryer to soften, fluff up, and keep clothing static-free. These balls also help hasten the drying process by helping the heat to disperse more consistently by keeping clothes separated while they toss.
If you have an old 100 percent wool sweater that's shrunken, you can put it to good use with DIY wool dryer balls. Simply cut the sweater into strips and wrap them up into a ball for the dryer.
16 of 19
Keep Your Dryer Lint for Practical Uses
You know it's important to consistently remove highly flammable dryer lint to avoid fire hazards and to keep your dryer running smoothly. But did you know that there are creative uses for lint? Here are just a few ideas to reuse lint—and knowing you have a use for lint might inspire you to empty the trap after every load:
- Fire starters
- Tiny pet bedding
- Stuffing for crafts
Store lint in a clean milk jug with the top cut off or a plastic bag hanging in your laundry room away from heat sources.
Continue to 17 of 19 below.
17 of 19
Sprinkle Salt on Laundry Stains
Though it's a myth that salt can brighten colors or keep colors from running, table salt can treat some tough stains. Since table salt is a mild abrasive, it can help remove blood, rust, and red wine stains and it helps absorb liquid stains before they are set.
Keep an inexpensive canister of regular table salt in your laundry room so it's on hand if you need it for a fresh stain. Sprinkle salt on a red wine spill to absorb the liquid. Once it does, brush it away and do the laundry.
For blood or rust, make a thick paste out of salt and water and rub it into the stain to lift it. Wash salt out of your clothing or it can leave white stains.
18 of 19
Make Laundry Day More Efficient...With Smaller Loads
Are you still wondering if there's still a most efficient way to do laundry? The answer sounds counterintuitive. Do smaller loads of laundry.
It's not always better to do large loads of laundry. If you pack your washer and dryer with as much clothing and bedding as possible, you may break your appliances, but you will also do your items a major disservice. Your laundry won't have enough room to freely tumble in the washing machine and they won't come clean. Then, you will pack unclean clothes in a dryer, they won't dry well and will come out damp and wrinkled. Stick to smaller batches for cleaner, drier, less wrinkled laundry.
19 of 19
Strip Your Laundry
If you're looking to make your laundry better, stripping is the answer. Stripping is like exfoliation for your laundry. The process removes all the residue your laundry routine leaves behind, such as detergent or fabric softener residue, body soil, and body oils left in the fabric after your "clean" your laundry. The result: softer, cleaner, brighter laundry. The reasons you might want to strip your laundry:
- You use cold water for all washes.
- You never clean your machine.
- You typically use too much detergent.
- You don't use a premium detergent and it doesn't remove soil well.
- You infrequently clean your bedding.
Soaking items in super hot water and a stripping solution of borax, washing soda, and heavy-duty enzyme-based laundry detergent will do the job.