Top laundry tips?

alabamamommyJuly 16, 2011

I hope this isn't too broad or bizarre of a question, but come baby #3 and a move to another county, I'm hanging up my professional hat and letting our 10-year housekeeper go (sniff sniff). While I'm sad to see her go, I'm very excited about getting my arms around the wonderfully mundane. But lets be honest, other than the occasional laundry in a pinch, baby laundry, or the iron on the way out of the door, I've got a "get up to speed" learning curve ahead.

We have a pair of HE3Ts that are 8 years old. We're debating whether to keep them or to replace with the move. They've not given us any mechanical trouble, and I've always been happy with the sanitary mode, but I've always been amazed at how quickly our cotton knits pill. Are those machines known for being rough on fabrics?

Aside from advice on machines, do you have any kitchen sink wisdom to share regarding your approach to laundry? Anything that would help me get started on the right foot? Favorite machines? Favorite detergents? Favorite fabric softeners? Favorite steam irons? Equally - any of the above to stay away from?

If everyone would share just a nugget, I'd be so grateful!

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I've never had a cotton knit pill in our old TL. Cotton does not pill. Are they blends? Anything blended with polyester will tend to pill because polyesters/synthetics are a stronger fiber. I wonder what your housekeeper was doing to that laundry. My new FL's manual says to turn knits inside out, so now I do, but I never did in my TL washer.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 9:04AM
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Are you in-store for the treat that is Gardenweb! You never know what responses you'll get but I'd suggest also doing a search of the Laundry Forum for some of the topics you mentioned: machines, detergents, fabric softeners, retailers, etc. It's all here! You'll uncover a lot of random opinion but many will give you a bit of the education you seek.

There's a running list that gets copied often in the Appliance Forum but I've never seen one relative to laundry. Maybe due to a lack of consensus about specifics and the different motivations (price, size, ingredients, etc.) when it comes to this topic.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 12:13PM
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Sounds like you have a good washer. I think one of the posters here has the same machines and is very pleased with how they perform. I get the impression that the older FLs with a heater are better about utilizing the heater on all cycles, resulting in more consistent warm and hot washes than some of the new machines. So I'd say keep your set until you have to replace them because you are not likely to get ones as good unless you are willing to shell out serious money for Miele or some other European brand.

As to laundry tips, make sure you sort by color and fabric type. Don't overload your machine. Use good quality detergent and experiment with dosing until you get good results. Don't be afraid of longer cycle times and extra rinses - they help with getting the best washing results. Also, don't be afraid of true warm, hot and extra hot washes.

And keep on reading this forum. Search for topics that interest you and keep on reading. You can learn a lot from the posters here.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 2:41PM
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OP, I learned (from Heloise, I think) to turn our nice clothes inside out when washing to avoid any pilling. This has made a real difference. I also wash our nice clothes with Tide Total Care; the label says it helps prevent pilling. Don't really know about that, but figured I'd pass it along. I do love the way the clothes look and hang.

These are the main detergents I use for other different types of laundry:

* white towels and white cottons such as socks, undies, and T-shirts (I wash all these in hot water/cold rinse, sanitize cycle w/heater boost) -- Tide w/bleach HE powder (I add a scoop of OxyClean if there are stains)

(don't know if you use cloth diapers or not, but I would wash them the same way)

* my DH's and DC's work/play clothes which get really dirty and stained, warm wash (sometimes w/heater boost) and cold rinse -- ERA liquid HE

* sheets, comforters, etc -- one of the last two detergents, depending on color and whether stained or not, warm or cool wash, cold rinse

If I use liquid fabric softener in the final rinse, I only fill it half full, then fill it on up with white vinegar.

If I were in your shoes, I'd keep the washer and dryer I had. That's a huge savings over buying more.

HTH :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 11:55PM
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Keep the current set you have. My HE3T set is over 9 yrs old when I got rid of it, due to the washer door could not be reversed in the new house and the final spin was not coming up to high speed like it should. The heater in it does come on in most cycles, unlike todays units, (except Miele)Your whitest white wash is 130 degrees, warm is 105, and cold is 70-75. Thats hard to find in todays units thanks to the gov. restrictions. I say run them till they drop dead

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 12:38PM
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I agree with gates1.....

My Duet 9400 purchased in 2005 is essentially the same as yours -- just re-branded for Sears in those days. Thing's been a champ from day one.

It's giving good service and you're familiar with it. New machines are nice, of course, but based on what you wrote I'd keep what you have. Be sure to put the shipping bolts back in it before the move. Have your water tested at the new location so you know what you're dealing with.

I use Tide HE powder; sometimes downy; sometimes oxyclean. Nothing fancydancy at all. And I've had NONE of the various issues so frequently reported here.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 3:50PM
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Thanks everyone - keep the tips coming!

Cavimum, that's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking to learn. I didn't realize blends were more prone to pilling and will separate accordingly.

Gates and asolo - thanks for the info. I thought perhaps I shouldn't let them go. The washer is staring to make a squeaky noise when spinning, should I have it looked at before something goes awry?

Also, I'm certain we don't have any shipping bolts... what am I looking for?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 4:55PM
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Ah!.....the great shipping-bolt scam strikes again. Installers never leave them unless its specifically demanded.....because then, later, you have to buy four more...and they really nick you for them. Don't feel bad. I don't have mine either. Only learned about it later.

"Squeaky noises" are never good. They all have their characteristic sounds and an experienced listener can usually get a pretty good idea of what it is and how important it may be. For the inexperienced, it's a mystery. Based on that alone, if you're unable to diagnose yourself, I'd pay for a service call for diagnosis. May affect your buy-new-or-keep decision and be justifiable that way. And, if you're going to do that anyway, maybe go for the factory-rep provider and ask them if they can bring some discarded shipping bolts with them to the appointment. Yours are pretty common and they mostly just toss them. Since they're charging you for the service call anyway, you might get a freebie out of it. They may even have a "pre-move inspection service" or something like that.

Then, again, (repeating) new machines are always nice. Get one with a heater.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 5:17PM
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@asolo - I'll count myself lucky that my Miele installers left mine, and told me where they were, before I ever mentioned the shipping struts. :o)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 5:27PM
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I'm still using an old tub of dishwasher detergient (High phosphate) as a booster for dirty clothes along with powdered soap. When it's gone, I will go back to Oxyclean. I give every load an extra rinse and I also like to wash all clothes on Heavy Soil. That increases the washing time by about 12 minutes and with the low amount of hot water used in modern machines I feel that it works to compensate.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 8:06AM
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Although I feel underqualified to respond, I would be happy to share some things I have learned.
A. If you have a stain, the dryer can make it permanent. I am very cautious to look through laundry coming *out* of the washer to make sure any spots/stains were washed out. If a stain was not completely removed, I either treat again and rewash or just air dry. (We live on the water and fish daily..more like hourly.. so we are bound to have some type of seagrass dirt or a fishiness on us)
B. Overdrying may cause FADING. Beware of Temperature setting and Timer setting. I have read somewhere (I think on the Tide website) to be careful not to overdry clothes. For me it means that I dry on the LOWEST temperature, and take things out when they are ALMOST dry. Again, I may skip the dryer altogether.

BLEACH: I have found that bleach is dangerous. I have ruined plenty of items with bleach (my carelessness or not reading the label ie a silk/linen shirt). So I use bleach with the utmost care. My White towels get the HOTTEST wash (unless there is a stain), no bleach. I don't use fabric softener on towels, it hinders their ability to absorb. And I rinse with vinegar to help remove any left over soap, and it helps soften the towels. My old towels got bleached every single wash and are now rough like a board, even with softener. I think the bleach ruined them. There are sanitizers for laundry in the baby isle, if you are worried about germs. (but who isn't - thats what Hot water is for).

HOT WATER will also set some stains.
KNOW YOUR STAINS: I put a link below/above? talking about types of stains and how to treat them.

I have found that SHOUT works really well for my stains. And I have read in I think consumer reports that TIDE cold water was one of the best detergents. I tend to use less expensive detergetents for towels/ sheets, or things that are not dark and won't fade. Fading is my biggest enemy. I can't figure out how my darks fade after only a couple of washes. Mind you - the dryer on low setting and taking out when damp and turning my clothes inside out has *really* helped.
I did not find that OXYCLEAN has ever made a difference.

Best of Luck to you!

Here is a link that might be useful: Types of Laundry Stains and how to treat them

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:37AM
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KNOW YOUR DETERGENTS - If you have any washable woolens like socks, sweaters, wool blend slacks, do not use a detergent with enzymes. Same applies to silk. The enzymes can damage the fabrics. Silk and wool are protein fibers (animal source) and the enzymes are in detergent to eat up protein based stains.

Most of the big brand name detergents have enzymes. Detergent labels will not tell you the ingredients or the list is vague. Call the product's toll free number and ask. Fortunately, ALL Free & Clear 'HE' has no enzymes, so I use it on our wool socks and DH's wool blend machine washable trousers. I never knew about enzymes in detergents before I found this forum! (It has been sheer dumb luck on my part, that the ALL F&C has no enzymes, or those socks & pants would have been ruined years ago.)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 9:54AM
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Tide detergent, Clorox bleach, vinegar in rinse, no fabric softener ever!! If you want to put a slight fragrance in laundry, wet an old wash cloth and put hair conditioner on it, rub it in, throw it in the dryer.

I very rarely use cold water to wash anything because to me it's not clean. I use warm for colored clothes and hot for white, dog and cat bedding. I also have to use warm for my bedding because it's expensive organic cotton and bottom sheet will shrink too much.

I don't dry anything on full high heat as it damages fibers. I try to dry everything on Medium except for towels which I dry on a temp that is between med and extra hot.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 11:37PM
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