These days, kids are outdoors longer while parents try and keep up with vacations, camps and day trips and the loads of laundry that comes with it all.
Loads are piling up as we enjoy time outdoors—from hiking adventures and swim parties to barbecues and picnics.
A definite sign of good times.
To keep it rolling, we could all benefit from a revised schedule that redefines our laundry routine and keeps us more organized and aware of energy-saving tricks and helpful tips.
Time it Right
Save energy this summer by cleaning clothes outside of peak times, which is considered 5 to 10 p.m. in most regions. Many energy companies charge premium rates during busy times when demand is high, sometimes twice as much as off-peak hours. While you may want to keep the air conditioning flowing during the hotter days, you can reduce usage—and lower energy bills—by washing and drying early in the morning or late at night and using three to four LooHoos per load to cut down drying time.
According to the Department of Energy, water heating accounts for an estimated 20 percent of our energy use. Washing in cold whenever possible can help lower these costs.
Since daylight lasts longer and weather is typically warm to very warm, consider line drying in the great outdoors. If you’re limited on space, dry laundry on hangers indoors.
Inviting your school-age kids to help around the home with tasks like laundry teaches them to be responsible and gives them a feeling of accomplishment. It’s also important that kids learn to contribute—parents will thank them later.
Preschoolers can discard dirty clothes in a hamper, sort by color and put away their own items. Get them excited to help by making it fun: kids can look for spare change or toys in pockets, add clothes and laundry soap in the washer and toss LooHoos—in the dryer.
But don’t stop at this age. Teens are old enough to launder, a valuable life skill they’ll appreciate one day. Focus on how to operate the washer and dryer; why to clean darks and lights separately; the difference in settings; how long to dry laundry; and the difference between traditional dryer sheets and fabric softeners and all-natural alternatives. Kids can also start ironing and folding sheets and clothing when it’s age appropriate.
Let’s be honest: An increase in outdoor activities leads to piles and piles of laundry. A trip to the beach brings home wet and sandy towels and swimsuits, while summer camp may result in grass stains and a suitcase of clothing—both worn and not—that needs to be put through the ringer.
Set up an outdoor bin for these items until they’re dry and you’re ready to throw in a load. Rather than wash towels after every dip in the pool, hang an outdoor rack so you can dry and can reuse.
And when it comes to removing stains, don’t put it off. Experts suggest taking care of a fresh stain promptly with laundry detergent or dish soap, turning the item inside out and treating the back side, then rinsing in cold water for regular stains, warm water for tougher stains. A diluted white vinegar/baking soda mix is especially effective in removing mustard, mud and grass stains. Just scrub with a toothbrush, let the item sit for 30 minutes and wash as usual.
Since different fabrics have different dry times, group your laundry by material rather than drying heavier items with lightweight cottons that dry quicker. Dry by color and fabric type only as long as needed.
This way, experts say, you’ll also prevent fading and prevent tears. Remember, wash darks in cold water for optimal color retention and less energy usage.
Laundry Stain Stick
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