Quick Fix-it Tips for Clothes and Laundry!

Everyone has it but no one really likes to do it… laundry. Over the years of being a TV reporter I’ve had just about every clothing emergency you can imagine!!! Indelible marker smudges, coffee spills, sewage spills, rain, mud, makeup, bird poop, rips, popped buttons, you name it– I’ve dealt with the issue on my best on-air clothes. Imagine dealing with that just moments before my cameraman says “your on!”

Probably the funniest experience was waking up early one morning only to discover my daughter was spraying down a dirty school uniform with air freshener (Lysol). She was trying to be resourceful by attempting to throw the freshly sprayed uniform in the dryer to “dry clean” it!!! Okay, now that is inventive but sorry, it didn’t work. We had a good laundry lesson with that one and a great laugh.

Wrinkled clothes! Have you ever been in a rush to go somewhere and realized that the favorite pants or shirt you want to wear is wrinkled? You have no time to iron it. Here is a quick solution– Buy a small empty spray bottle at your local discount store. Fill the bottle with tap water and add a couple of drops of fabric softener to the spray bottle. Don’t go overboard, just a couple of drops. Always shake the bottle before spraying. Lightly mist the wrinkled clothing from top to bottom. Do not soak it, just spray lightly. Next, put the piece of clothing and a clean hand towel in the dryer for about 5 minutes or less. Why the hand towel? It helps the item bounce around so that it doesn’t stick to one side of the dryer. Remove the clothing and place it on a flat surface like your bed and smooth it out. It should be refreshed and ready to go! That same spray can be used while ironing items that have been in the drawer for a while– especially fine materials that do not need starch. Watch the temperature on your iron and again don’t over do it on the spray! It should be a fine mist, not saturated. This solution works especially well when carefully ironing fine washables. Remember, if it is a fine washable you should be ironing it inside out and iron on low so that you do not scorch it! This spray concoction is also good to soften up materials that are a little tight! So you have a pair of jeans, and they’ve some how tightened up a few sizes when you washed them? Put the jeans on and have a friend or spouse lightly spray it on the tight garment. This softens the threads in the fabric and helps the garment fit your body better!

What about knit clothing that shrinks? I’ve been there, washed a sweater that was my size and it comes out looking like it would fit a one year old mini me! There is a little trick that can help get a knit garment back to size, particularly for sweaters. Fill a sink or a little wash tub with lukewarm (tepid) water. Then, put a capful of baby shampoo into the water. Don’t overdo it on the shampoo! Let the item soak in that baby shampoo water and gently work it through. Drain the tub or sink and carefully pat the water out but do NOT rinse it. Take a plush towel and lay the clothing flat on the towel. Roll the towel up like you would roll a beach towel (with the clothing inside it). Then, get another dry towel and put the piece of clothing out on the dry towel. Carefully stretch the clothing little by little making sure both sides (front and back) are being stretched at the same time. You can even put the garment on so that it fits to your body. Then lay the garment flat to air dry.

Tight clothes. If you have a favorite shirt, sweater, or pants that tends to get a little tight each time you wash and dry it there is a little solution for that too. When you dry the garment– pull it out of the dryer when it is still fairly damp. This goes for jeans too! Put the piece of clothing on while it is still damp and it will stretch to fit your body and your curves. Then, remove the garment and let it air dry.

Quick fixes for emergency spills. Ink can be treated immediately with hairspray. Hydrogen peroxide works well on blood stains. Be careful with hydrogen peroxide, it can lighten deep colors if you aren’t quick and careful. Believe it or not “409” spray can get out a lot of hard to treat stains! It really works well on carpet stains too. I used “409” to get a makeup stain out of a very expensive fine gauze shirt just moments before I went on air. The makeup stain disappeared and the garment still looks like new! It is important that when blotting an item that you have a paper towel or cloth on the OTHER side of the stain. If not, the stain has nowhere to go! Place a cloth on the back side of the stain, now treat the item and continue to blot and push the stain to the cloth on the other side. You will be surprised how this simple trick will get out a tough stain.

A quick fix to help treat smelly laundry like towels– You can add a quarter to a half cup of vinegar to your laundry rinse. The vinegar acts as a softener and it can help get rid of moldy type smells. It is also good to put the vinegar treated wash through an extra rinse cycle. You can also soak super smelly clothing in a solution of baking soda and water. This baking soda “soak” is good for clothing items that have a horrible smoke smell. Once treated in the baking soda soak, you can put the item through a regular wash cycle. The vinegar treatment or the baking soda treatment can also help freshen up your washing machine tub.

An easy fix for buttons, hems, seams and rips— First, buttons… I have a stash of safety pins and I use them for button emergencies! When your button pops off you can take a safety pin on the back side of the button and attach it from the inside of the lapel. It doesn’t always work with every button, it depends on the type of button you have. Now– lets tackle, rips, loose hems and seams… If you look in the women’s lingerie department at most discount stores you’ll find double stick tape it is called “Hollywood Fashion Tape”. It is the same tape that movie stars use to prevent the oops moment with their clothing. Remember JLo’s infamous plunging dress? How do you think she got the dress to stay put when she waved at the cameras? Special double stick tape of course! It works for many clothing emergencies! I carry the special tape in my purse at all times. If you have a button emergency you use the double stick tape for an emergency fix! Carefully button your garment, and place the double stick tape where the button was. Then, place the button hole right over where the button should be. Squish the button hole together while you place it on top of the tape. The button hole should be carefully placed over the tape and you won’t even notice there is a button missing. That double stick body tape is also good for quick fixes when your hem is coming apart. I’ve had that tape last on garments through the wash at times! Look for “Hollywood Fashion Tape”. Caution, don’t use regular double stick tape as it won’t work on fabric!!! I even use the fashion tape to hold together blouses that run a little too low (instead of a safety pin which can bunch up). The garment tape stays put right where you want it and it doesn’t come off until you remove it. Hey men, I haven’t tried this but if you have a shirt that constantly rides up or a pair of socks that constantly fall maybe the double stick fashion tape will help it stay put??? You’ll have to test it out and let me know if it works! I bet it would work well on getting a tie to stay put!

I rarely use bleach however, if you must— never ever put full strength bleach in your wash, not even if you are treating whites. Always dilute an eighth to a quarter cup of bleach in a cup to two cups water! You should add it to your top loader before you even put the laundry in. Let the wash tub fill up and swish a few times before you add your laundry! This is a must or you will end up with a bleach nightmare. Bleach is hard on clothes and it causes disintegration on the threads and the fabric. So– be very, very carefull if you really need to use bleach. If you have a front loader washing machine you can dilute a little bleach in 2 cups water, mix it well and slowly pour into the bleach dispenser. I only do this for whites and never on colored clothing in a front loader.

Parents, a quick tip to help your kids shoes last longer! Every single pair of shoes that is purchased for my child gets a good spray of scotchgard or water repellent before the shoes are worn. I don’t just spray the shoes once; I treat them, let them dry and treat them again. This really helps waterproof/stain-proof the shoes and helps them last longer. How about stain repellent for clothes? Yes, there is such a thing! If you don’t mind ironing, “Faultless” which is known for it’s ironing starch spray, makes a starch that has a stain repellent! It has some sort of scotchgard technology that repels stains. I’ve tried it and it works. I think it is called “Faultless Plus Stain Resistance”. You should be able to find it at your local discount store.

Did you know you can also put sunscreen in your clothing? Yes! Check in the clothing dye section at your nearby discount store or pharmacy. Rit makes a product that actually adds SPF to your clothing. It lasts for about 20 washings. My husband is a surfer and I’ve used this treatment on his beach and surf clothes (even his surf hat).

Did I forget anything? Oh yeah, I have laundry to do! I better get to that big pile of laundry– it’s waiting for me!

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