The average American woman spends 17 minutes a day doing laundry – that’s a minute shy of two hours every week. Clearly, this is a time-consuming task, but it’s one that can be perplexing too. How can I get rid of wrinkles? How can I neutralize stains in a pinch? Luckily, there are a slew of hacks to help you get the job done well and quickly. Here are 40 of them.
40. Clean your detergent cap with your laundry
Your detergent comes with a cap that simplifies measuring and pouring it into your washer. After a few weeks of usage, though, you might find that it gets sticky and dirty with drips of soap. Turns out, you can clean this quite easily by popping the cap into the washer with a load of non-delicate laundry. Be sure to remove it when you throw everything else into the dryer.
39. There’s a great alternative to dryer sheets
Dryer sheets have rightfully earned a less-than-stellar reputation, as they can ruin fabrics meant to be breathable, absorbent, or flame-retardant. So swap them out for wool dryer balls instead. This all-natural alternative smoothes away wrinkles, improves air flow, and makes clothes dry faster.
38. … Or try a ball of aluminum foil
Let’s say you’re out of dryer sheets and can’t get your hands on wool dryer balls just yet. Head to the kitchen, and grab a sheet of aluminum foil. Ball up the metallic stuff and throw it into your dryer as a stand-in that will effectively fluff your clothes up to a half-year.
37. You can DIY a wrinkle releaser
There’s nothing worse than envisioning what you want to wear, pulling it out… and realizing the garment has wrinkles. Luckily, you don’t have to pick something else or spend too long ironing. Instead, pour two cups of water, a tablespoon of white vinegar, and a teaspoon of hair conditioner into a spray bottle. Mist that over your creased clothes, then pull your garment until the lines release.
36. Have a sticky stain? Use ice
Let’s say you sit down on a park bench, stand up and realize you’ve got someone else’s gum stuck to you. Fear not – you can easily get it off of your clothes. Just place an ice cube on top of it or any other sticky stains. Let it sit for a few minutes, after which time you can quickly peel away the hardened residue.
35. Start gathering lint in a tissue box
You clean lint from your dryer filter after every load of laundry – and then what do you do with it? Rather than tossing it in the trash, put an empty tissue box in your laundry room, and start depositing fuzz there. Once the box is full, you can toss it all into your compost bin, since all of it’s biodegradable. Or you can use the lint to make DIY fire starters with toilet paper rolls and wax – search for a guide online.
34. Hide another hamper where you need it
Clothes aren’t the only contents of your washing machine. You also rack up rags and towels from your kitchen – and you might not have a good place to put the dirty ones until you can wash them. So Better Homes & Gardens executive editor Oma Ford shared her fix with the magazine in July 2019. She said, “I keep a basket on a shelf on my kitchen island to serve as a mini hamper for dish towels and cloth napkins so I can tote that laundry to the washer all at once.”
33. Have a do-not-dry symbol
Let’s say you share your laundry responsibilities with your partner or children, but they’re not as versed in what can tumble-dry and what can’t. If you keep finding shrunken garments, then you should adopt the system described by Karman Hotchkiss to Better Homes & Gardens. The magazine’s home editor said, “If something must be line-dried, I put it in a zippered sweater bag before it goes in the hamper, so whoever transfers the laundry knows the item can’t go in the dryer.”
32. Check colorfastness with a cotton bud
There’s nothing worse than opening the washing machine door, pulling out your clean clothes, and realizing that they’ve gone a new shade of pink or blue. If you suspect a garment isn’t colorfast, test it before throwing it in with – and potentially ruining – everything else. Just wet a cotton bud, and swab the inside of the item in question, and if any color transfers, then you know to hand-wash the piece separately.
31. Make your own detergent pods to save time and money
You can save about $75 a year if you make your own detergent pods, rather than buying the prepackaged ones. Search for a recipe online: you can expect to need washing soda, Epsom salt, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and a laundry soap bar. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mix too, for some pleasant post-wash fragrance. No matter what, you’ll scoop the mixture and let the mounds dry, then pop those in with your laundry, just as you would a manufactured pod.
30. Vinegar will soften your bed sheets
You don’t need any fancy store-bought formula to soften your bed sheets. Instead, throw them into the washing machine with half of a cup of distilled white vinegar. This simple combination will make your linens feel softer and look brighter, and it’ll strip away any unsavory odors too.
29. Make extra air-drying space with a common bathroom accessory
You might not have floor space in the laundry room for a stand-up drying rack. So make use of the room you do have, say, on the walls. Hanging some towel bars – yes, the kind that hold your bath and hand towels – will give you the extra space you need for delicates that can’t tumble-dry.
28. Use a salad spinner for hand-wash-only loads
Hand-massaging your delicates can be a time-consuming task – not to mention the fact that your labor might not leave your garments as clean as you want them. Next time, pop your garments into a salad spinner, add a bit of your favorite soap, and gently spin them clean. You can even dump out the water post-wash and use the spinner to dry everything too.
27. Neutralize sweat stains with baby shampoo
You might think that you’d need an ultra-powerful detergent to tackle the sweatiest stains in your clothes. It turns out that famously gentle baby shampoo can do the trick. Just dab the soap onto perspiration marks and let it sit for a half-hour. Then wash the garments as usual, and watch as those sweat marks disappear.
26. Hang sweaters wisely so they don’t stretch out
Air-drying a sweater isn’t as intuitive as it seems: leaving certain materials to dangle on hangers can stretch them out irreparably. So learn to hang yours properly so that they’ll dry and keep their form. First, fold your knitwear in half leaving the sides long. Then grab your hanger and angle the hook so that it’s near the armpit. Finally, take the bottom of the sweater and the sleeves, and fold them over your hanger.
25. Keep a piece of chalk in the kitchen
Even if you don’t have a chalkboard nearby, it’s smart to keep a stick of chalk in your kitchen. It turns out that the material is very absorbent, which makes it the perfect tool for tackling grease stains. That way, if you’re cooking with oil, and it splatters, you can quickly cover it with chalk to handle the grease until you can give your outfit a proper wash.
24. Harness the power of the sun
Bring some brightness back to your next load of whites by laundering them on a sunny day. Rather than tossing them in the dryer, though, leave them to dry in the air laid out flat outside. Three or four hours under the sun will very effectively brighten your uncolored clothes – no bleach required.
23. Hairspray your ink stains
Don’t count ink-stained garments as a loss. Instead, grab a bottle of hairspray or hand sanitizer and get to spritzing. Let your stain remover of choice sit for ten minutes, then toss the garment into the wash for its usual cycle. The pre-treatment will make it easy for your machine to lift the tough stain.
22. Deodorize your clothes with cheap vodka
You might be wondering how this works: cheap vodka doesn’t have a particularly delightful smell. But if you pick up an inexpensive bottle of booze, pour it into a spray bottle, and spritz your clothes, you’ll see how effective it is in neutralizing bad odors. Mist it over an outfit so that you can wear it once more before you wash it, and it’ll still smell fresh.
21. Wield your hair straightener as a back-up iron
Your iron can get rid of big creases, but what about the finer wrinkles between buttons and hems? Turns out, you can use your hair straightener to finesse these smaller imperfections. Just make sure you clean the plates to remove any styling product residue before you use the device on freshly washed garments.
20. Clean your iron with another laundry supply
If you still have dryer sheets on hand, don’t throw them away just yet: use them to clean your iron. Start by setting your iron to its lowest heat level and laying a dryer sheet onto your board. When it’s warm, run the metal plate over the sheet, and the latter will latch on to all of the grimy stuff stuck in your iron.
19. Erase stains on the go with this bathroom staple
Needless to say, it’s annoying to find a stain on your outfit while you’re on the go – and it’s worse when you don’t have a change of clothes. Next time that happens, though, rely on this unlikely remedy: shaving cream. This product, commonly stashed in showers and medicine cabinets, has the right ingredients and foamy consistency to lift stains quickly. Just rub some of it into the mark, let it sit and then blot until it disappears.
18. Soak up oil stains with baby powder
Spilling oil on your clothes can spell disaster: sometimes, these shiny stains don’t come out. But if you think fast and reach for a bottle of baby powder, you can save your garment. Cleaning expert Aya Bradley explained to variety website The Zoe Report in 2020, “All you have to do is sprinkle baby powder on the oil stains and let them soak overnight. It’s like magic.”
17. Take laundry notes with a dry erase marker
Let’s say someone else is throwing your wash into the dryer. Or maybe you’re just forgetful: you don’t always remember what needs to be plucked from the load before it tumbles dry. Either way, you can keep track of what in the washer doesn’t go in the dryer with the help of a dry erase marker. Simply write your notes onto the machine so that you see them and know what comes out and when.
16. Freeze away bad smells
You don’t want to wash your jeans quite yet, but they don’t smell so fresh anymore either. Luckily, there’s a solution to this conundrum: your freezer. Stick your denim and other lightly worn garments into the cold overnight. Somehow, the frigid temperatures wick the bad smells away from your clothes.
15. Use salt to save colors
You can extend the life of your favorite brightly colored garment with a bit of salt. Those who throw it into the wash with their most pigmented pieces say it works because of the chloride that’s part of salt. This element is said to stall the fading process too.
14. Repel odors with a smelly soak
You might wonder how something as strongly scented as vinegar can neutralize odors, but don’t question it – just try it. Add a half-cup of white vinegar to cold water. Then, soak smelly and sweat-laden clothes in the brew, which will neutralize odors and break down unpleasant buildup. After at least an hour in this solution, toss your clothes in the washer to complete the job, but don’t put them in the dryer afterward.
13. Pool noodles make great drying racks
Well, you’re not going to try and hang your clothes onto pool noodles – that’d be comical, but not practical. Instead, cut the foam tube to match the length of your drying rack’s rods. Then cut the noodle lengthwise on one side so you can slip it onto the rod. That way, you can hang laundry to dry over the pool noodle, and it won’t get creased like it would on a normal airer.
12. Kitty litter saves you from red wine
Red wine: it’s absolutely delicious, but it’s a danger to your home interiors and your clothes. Let’s say you’ve splashed some on your outfit, and you need to soak up the deep-colored drink ASAP. Try sprinkling some kitty litter onto the maroon puddle, then press so that it absorbs all of the spill.
11. Build-your-own lint roller
Sometimes, a dinky mini lint roller just won’t cut it. If you need to pull fuzz and pet hair from, say, your bed linens or another large surface, then create this DIY, super-sized lint roller. All you have to do is wrap a paint roller with inside-out duct tape and start picking up dirt on your clothes, furniture, and more.
10. Need to iron your clothes fast? Grab an ice cube
With the help of an ice cube, you can turn your dryer into a steamer and get rid of wrinkles fast. Throw creased clothes into the basin with a couple of ice cubes before turning the dryer to its highest setting. The heat-and-ice combo will create steam, which will smooth out the unsightly lines in your garments.
9. Clean dryer filter with a paint stick
Next time you’re at the hardware store, be sure to grab a wooden paint stick or two. Turns out, these freebies can help you clean your dryer’s lint trap in a jiffy. Just wrap one of them in a dampened rag or old pillowcase. Then push it into the space, and move it around to gather all of the lingering lint. Do this regularly to prevent clogs in your dryer vent, a common issue that can cause a house fire if left unfixed.
8. Toss a clean towel into the dryer with your wet clothes
You can turn up the heat and hope your clothes dry faster – or you can try this proven hack. Throw a clean towel in with your wet clothes, then press start on the machine. Somehow, this combination helps your garments to dry faster, and you just have to refold the towel and put it away afterward.
7. Raid your pantry to darken darks – or lighten whites
Black clothes will fade over time – that is, unless you have the grinds to brew a pot of coffee. Add a cup of it – or a cup of tea – to your wash cycle and watch as it revives the color of your darkest wardrobe pieces. Meanwhile, you can brighten your whites with another kitchen must-have: lemons. Slice them, boil them and let the water cool. Then let your whites soak in the mixture for an hour before throwing them into the machine for a regular wash cycle.
6. Never separate a sock pair again, thanks to this hack
You’ve probably seen those small mesh laundry bags meant to keep delicates safe in the washing machine. Grab one – but don’t fill it with your most precious pieces. Instead, hang it on your hamper and fill it with your socks. Then, on laundry day, zip up the container and throw it right into the wash. It’ll keep all of your footwear together – no more searching for pairs of socks.
5. Unshrink your clothes with baby shampoo
We’ve mentioned baby shampoo a few times on this list – clearly, this is a must-have in your laundry cabinet. If you haven’t stocked up yet, then perhaps this hack will sway you. Pour two tablespoons of baby shampoo into a bucket of tepid water. In that mixture, you can soak shrunken clothes, such as sweaters, for 20 minutes. After that, you can flatten and lay the garment as taut as possible to restore it to its original shape and size.
4. Soak up stains with white bread
If you’re out to eat and can’t quickly treat a stain on your clothes, reach for that free basket of bread on the table. A white slice can soak up what you spill: just blot it over the affected area. You can even use this method to get rid of a lipstick stain on your clothes.
3. Roll up and dry sweaters like burritos
It can take sweaters a while to dry – unless you know a fun hack like this one. Lay your sweater onto a dry towel. Then grab both pieces and roll them together as you would a yoga mat. Once your garment’s wrapped up in the towel, press lightly to remove as much moisture as you can.
2. DIY a dryer sheet if you can’t give up the smell of them
We’ve already touched on the fact that dryer sheets aren’t great for your clothes. But no one can deny that they smell good – and perhaps you miss the scent they left behind. If so, try this hack: soak a towel in fabric softener, then let it air-dry completely. You can then throw the towel into the dryer with each load of laundry, and it’ll last for 40 to 50 cycles before it’s time to re-douse it in softener.
1. Don’t forget to clean your washing machine
The dirt that’s washing out of your clothes can sometimes get stuck in the machine. So, restore the basin to a grime-free shine by washing the washer itself with two washes: first, with a quart of vinegar, then a second with a cup of baking soda. The vinegar loosens up any stuck-on residue, and the baking soda whisks it away.