Reader-tested laundry tips for sparkling clean and not-stanky clothes

August 2 2018 | bijouxandbits
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
reader-tested laundry tips
"Not all who launder" sign from My Pretty Print

Back in the day we put out the call to help us with some laundry tips to make our lives and clothes better (and specifically for those discolored pit stains!). Y'all delivered as you always do. I pulled out some of the best laundry advice that you gave us to see if we could crowdsource the best methods to keep our clothing sparkling and less stanky.

Disclaimer: some of these are untested methods so try them at your own risk!

Laundry tips:

For those pit stains:

1.) Get you some cheap vodka
2.) Make a paste with the vodka and some baking soda
3.) Rub the paste on the offending areas
4.) Wait an hour or so
5.) Wash as usual
6.) Profit!
– Bubbles

"Just vinegar didn't do the trick for me either. What did was adding baking soda (I've not tried it with vodka). I rub some baking soda on all the pits (yes, ALL THE PITS!!!) and then carefully pour a bit of vinegar over it, so it foams away. I'll leave this for about 15 minutes and then dump everything in a tub of warm water with another cup of vinegar added. Let that soak for an half an hour to an hour and then wash as usual.

If the sweat has really settled in the fabric you might have to rinse and repeat a few times." – Cobalt&Calcium

"This is an old, old thing but there is a company from the 1900s that makes something called Fels-Naptha. It's a laundry bar. Takes some elbow grease, but you rub it into the area when wet and let it sit for a few minutes and it all comes out. One bar lasts forever but I have trouble finding it. It's also quite cheap per bar which is nice." – Adrini

"I really want to share my trick, which, astonishingly, noone mentioned so far: ASPIRIN.

I mix it with a bit of water so it makes a paste, then apply it to stubborn stains. Let soak, maybe scrub a bit, wash regularly afterwards.
Maybe repeat. This way I even get dried blood out of bedsheets." – Glitz Blitz

For pet urine stains and smell:

"Post baking soda fizz, rub in a mixture (warm water, a wee bit of hydrogen peroxide, and another wee bit of soap), and then gently scrub. Dry as you prefer.

I pulled it from here and it almost always works for unpleasant odors in fabrics: Cats of Australia, Clean & Remove Cat Urine." – Claire

For general stank:

"Not sure about the stain, but for the smell, nothing beats the sun. On a sunny day (you may have to wait a few months, if, like me, you live in Seattle) put the item on a line outside for most of the day. Kills the smell." – anon

"I'm going to say this, even if it seems obvious to some, because someone had to teach me:

Hang the shirts from their bottom hems so the pits are exposed to the air/sun instead of by the shoulders where the pits are trapped. If necessary, on long-sleeved shirts, clip the sleeves up (in such a way as to keep the pits exposed) to avoid too much stretching in the pits that can lead to snapped threads in the seams." – Brigitte

For cleaning the washing machine itself:

"Oxyclean takes care of my husbands pits stains completely. But if smell is also a problem… you might want to look at cleaning your washing machine. I know dirty washing machines can lead to smells not coming out of clothes, and transferring those smells to other clothes. Tide makes a washing machine cleaner. – Lauren

"I use Borax powder- use it on almost every load, it takes away musty washer odors, makes your detergent work better. A big box costs just under $5, I scoop a small handful out & throw that on top of the clothes. This is especially great for towels & the post lawn mowing funky jeans that my husband chucks into the wash." – Maria

"For front-load washers, I found the only thing that worked on the funk was the Tide washing machine cleaner.

This was after:
– using cleaning-strength vinegar
– using baking soda
– using vinegar and baking soda together
– using hydrogen peroxide
– running several empty cycles on hot, with and without soap
– cleaning all the gunk from the door gasket (it was so gross, you guys)
– trying vinegar again
– Oxyclean

After all that, I broke down and bought the Tide stuff. It took one package of the washing machine cleaner, followed by running an empty cycle, to get the front-load funk out of my machine. By that time I was getting ready to move to a new place, so I can't say how long the newly-cleaned washer stayed funk-free. But while I was there the front-load funk was GONE. I'm sold on top-loaders for life now. – F

"Our front-loading washer was getting funky; I think it was getting gross because it didn't get a chance to dry out. Now I encourage everyone to leave it open while their dryer cycle runs (instead of just closing it up after they take their wet clothes out), and close it when they come to get their dry clothes. This seems to be enough time for it to dry out." – Amy

If all else fails:

"If the top is too stained to get clean you could use this Craftster hack to sew in new panels.

Or to prevent the problem with future shirts you can buy sweat pads." – Mich

  1. Here's a trick I learned from my mom on how to get rid of stubborn stains on washable whites:

    1 – pour lemon juice onto the stain,
    2 – sprinkle the stain with salt,
    3 – hang outside so that the lemony, salty stain is exposed to direct sun for a day, then
    4 – launder as usual.

    Repeat as necessary.

    Today is her birthday, BTW.

    4 agree
  2. Also an option, opposed to the disposalable sweatpads is to buy a Thompson Tee. I got my brother one for Christmas and he liked it so much, I ended up ordering him two more as soon as they were on Zulily again.

  3. For smell, soak clothes in hot water with vinegar (about 1 cup vinegar per gallon of water). Rinse and repeat (2 to 3 times for bad smells) and then run the washer as normal.

    We did this for some of our textile options after a house fire and it did a better job than the cleaning service that some of our other items were sent to and was much gentler on fabrics.

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