Blacker blacks.

Every cycle through the laundry removes more black dye and roughs up the surface, creating a fuzzy fade effect. Consumer Reports says, when you absolutely must wash, turn black garments inside out to protect the surface, sort items by color and weight, and wash in cold water in the shortest cycle possible. Avoid detergent with bleach and measure carefully to avoid streaking. Hang inside to dry, laying sweaters flat on a lint-free towel. Dry cleaning your favorite black items will keep the just-bought look a lot longer than laundering.

White whites.

According to the experts at Consumer Reports, greying white clothes are picking up soil from other garments in a crowded washer without enough detergent. Wash white separately, don’t pack the washer and measure the detergent. If more whitening is needed, try a detergent with bleaching components, an oxidizer like OxiClean or hang clothing in the sun for natural whitening. Of course, we’re experts at keeping whites white — removing stubborn stains and brightening vintage wedding gowns are just two specialities you’ll find behind our doors.

Hanging out.

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy an outdoor clothesline, there are a few tricks to drying laundry outdoors. Shake damp laundry to smooth out wrinkles before hanging. Dry shirts on hangers for crease-free results, ready for touchup ironing. Hang pants by the bottom hem. That’s the way to hang t-shirts and polos, too. Hang “departments” of like items to make sorting and folding go faster. Splurge on good wooden clothespins and don’t forget to wipe down the clothesline when it gets grimy.

Slipcover strategies.

To refresh linen, cotton or synthetic fabric that’s been preshrunk and colorfast, you can machine-wash slipcovers.  Launder separate from other articles on gentle in color water with an all-purpose detergent. Air dry or tumble on low, then reposition on the furniture while slightly damp to minimize wrinkles and help with fit if there’s any shrinkage. Drycleaning is almost always a preferred way to clean slipcovers and cushion covers – we can spot stubborn stains and make sure there’s no shrinkage.

A little softener goes a long way.

Soap-like fabric softeners coat laundry with a waxy lubricant that lets the fibers slide past each other, reducing wrinkling and smoothing scratchiness. They also make napped fibers stand on end for fluffiness and reduce static cling caused by tumbling in the dryer.  Over time, the waxy coating can create a dingy look and reduce absorbency in towels and sports fabrics designed to wick moisture. For whiter whites and brighter colors, use a high-performance laundry detergent (like we use every day) and skip the softener.

Laundry myths.

Add more detergent for cleaner clothes?  Wrong, when there’s too much to rinse out you get dingy results and may damage your machine. Hotter water is better?  In fact, today’s laundry products are formulate to work as well with cold water. Hot water can actually set stains, and always costs more.

Pet laundry?

You can safely home launder pet bed covers, collars and leashes using the gentle cycle, cold water and an all-purpose laundry detergent. Throw in grimy washable toys. Use small loads with large-load settings to flush out hair and dirt. Tumble dry on lowest setting or air dry.

Chocolate stains.

Chocolate contains cocoa’s dark tannins and cocoa butter’s oiliness. On washable items, remove the grease with undiluted laundry detergent dabbed on the stain, let sit 5 minutes and rinse with warm water. Now apply color-safe bleach to the remaining water-soluble tannin stains. We can help with washable and with dry-clean only items, our stain experts can get the chocolate out of almost everything.

Grandma’s laundry secret.

Good old-fashioned vinegar’s back! This inexpensive miracle worker gives brighter, cleaner, fresher laundry. For instance, it removes sweat and deodorant stains, replaces fabric softener to reduce static, and boosts detergent power while eliminating buildup from powdered cleaners. Add a half cup distilled white vinegar to your next load and see the difference.

Work off that extra slice.

Get ready for the post-turkey workout. According to Men’s Fitness, the easiest way to keep your gym clothes fresh is presoaking. Most workout garments are made with fibers that repel water, like Spandex and Lycra, so you need to presoak in a half-gallon warm water mixed with 1 ounce laundry detergent and the juice of a lemon. The lemon’s citric acid helps break down oily buildup. Gently scrub armpits, neckline and any other stained or odorific areas before soaking overnight. Then launder regularly in warm water with a white vinegar finishing rinse instead of fabric softener. Or bring the whole pile to us for professional stain removal and laundering. We know how to get the stank out, that’s our job.