Friday, May 27, 2011

Household secrets

One thing I have learned over the years is how to keep my clothes. I have a lot of older clothes that I keep because I can't replace them. I wash quite a few things by hand and have laundry bags for the other stuff. I never put any of my black clothes in the dryer. This spring I picked up a little black dress at Target for six dollars and change. I wore it a few times and it was time it got washed. I wash in cold water always and I use way less detergent than the manufacturer recommends. I started using less detergent after I took a high school chemistry class which explained how colloids function. It was enough for me and every housekeeping book I have ever read confirms my view. There is a law of diminishing returns with detergent. More does not mean cleaner. The only laundry product that I swear by is oxiclean. I have managed to talk my husband into wearing darker socks but for his t shirts the oxiclean can't be beat. I don't like using bleach because it is corrosive and bad for the environment. T shirts may come white in bleach but they also become thin and flammable and then must be replaced. I don't like dry cleaning, too expensive. But I have a couple of aran knit sweaters that I send out every few years. I keep them clean by not soiling them. I always wear something between me and the sweater, usually a cotton turtleneck. I take the sweater off to eat and every year I spot clean my sweaters, as necessary. Then when it is completely dry I put it in the dryer with a moist dryer sheet. That freshens it up for another season. Alhough I always read the labels sometimes I don't pay attention. For example most of the rayon dresses I own say dry clean only. I usually wash these by hand and hang them up to line dry. No problems so far. Just be careful with clothes that have inner structure or interfacing like jackets. Otherwise, I say wash away. To keep blacks black and jeans from fading line dry. The dryer deteriorates colors and dyes.
As for household cleaners, I believe in diluting those also. Most things are way too strong anyway. I get spray bottles at the dollar store and with one bottle of household cleaner and water, I make two. Another good trick on bathroom tile and bath surfaces is a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. This works well and is safe also. For the tub, I like straight baking soda. Baking soda also works in the laundry room on whites.
My mother is from Argentina. When I lived there in my youth I discovered a different way to mop. They use a squeegy and a sort of towel-like cloth to mop. The advantage of this system is that it is very easy to rinse and squeeze out the mop/towel part and there is nothing to buy really. No special chemicals, no special cleaning sheets, once you have the setup you're in business forever.

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