The average American woman spends 17 minutes a day doing laundry. Not only is it a time-consuming chore, but it can also be expensive. So, if you want a cheap alternative to stain remover or a faster way of getting your clothes wrinkle-free, look no further.
We’ve got a bunch of hacks to help save you time and money. And all you need are some everyday household objects — including ice cubes!
40. There’s a great alternative to dryer sheets
Dryer sheets have earned a less-than-stellar reputation, as they can ruin fabrics meant to be breathable, absorbent, or flame-retardant. So, swap them out for wool dryer balls instead. This all-natural alternative smoothes away wrinkles, improves airflow, and makes clothes dry faster. Pretty cool, right?
39. Or try a ball of aluminum foil
Let’s say you’re out of dryer sheets and can’t yet get your hands on wool dryer balls. Head to the kitchen and grab a sheet of aluminum foil. Ball up the metallic stuff and throw it into your dryer as a stand-in that effectively fluffs your clothes for up to a half-year. Magic!
38. You can DIY a wrinkle releaser
There’s nothing worse than envisioning what you want to wear, pulling it out… and realizing the garment has wrinkles. Luckily, you don’t have to pick something else or spend too long ironing. Instead, pour two cups of water, a tablespoon of white vinegar, and a teaspoon of hair conditioner into a spray bottle. Mist that over your creased clothes, then pull your garment until the lines release. Voilà!
37. Clean your detergent cap with your laundry
Your detergent comes with a cap that simplifies measuring and pouring the stuff into your washer. After a few weeks of usage, the cap gets sticky and dirty with soap drips. You can clean this quite easily by popping the lid into the washer with a load of non-delicate laundry. Be sure to remove it when you throw everything else into the dryer.
36. Start gathering lint in a tissue box
You clean lint from your dryer filter after every load of laundry – and then what do you do with it? Rather than tossing it in the trash, put an empty tissue box in your laundry room and deposit fuzz. Once the box is complete, you can throw it all into your compost bin, since it’s biodegradable. Or, if you want, you can use the lint to make DIY fire starters with toilet paper rolls and wax – search for a guide online.
35. Hide another hamper where you need it
Clothes aren’t the only contents of your washing machine. You also rack up rags and towels from your kitchen. But you might not have an excellent place to put the dirty ones until you can wash them. So Better Homes & Gardens executive editor Oma Ford shared her fix with the magazine in July 2019. She said, “I keep a basket on a shelf on my kitchen island to serve as a mini hamper for dish towels and cloth napkins so I can tote that laundry to the washer all at once.”
34. Have a do-not-dry symbol
Let’s say you share your laundry responsibilities with your partner or children, but they’re not as versed in what can tumble-dry and what can’t. If you keep finding shrunken garments, you should adopt the system described by Karman Hotchkiss to Better Homes & Gardens. The magazine’s home editor said, “If something must be line-dried, I put it in a zippered sweater bag before it goes in the hamper, so whoever transfers the laundry knows the item can’t go in the dryer.”
33. Check colorfastness with a cotton bud
There’s nothing worse than opening the washing machine door, pulling out your clean clothes, and realizing they’ve gone a new shade of pink or blue. If you suspect a garment isn’t colorfast, test it before throwing it in with – and potentially ruining – everything else. Just wet a cotton bud and swab the inside of the item in question. If any color transfers, then you know to hand-wash the piece separately.
32. Make your detergent pods to save time and money
You can save about $75 a year if you make your detergent pods. Search for a recipe online, but you need washing soda, Epsom salt, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and a laundry soap bar. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mix for some pleasant post-wash fragrance. No matter what, you’ll scoop the mixture and let the mounds dry, then pop those in with your laundry – just as you would a manufactured pod.
31. Vinegar will soften your bed sheets
You don’t need any fancy store-bought formula to soften your bed sheets. Instead, throw them into the washing machine with half a cup of distilled white vinegar. This simple combination will make your linens feel softer and brighter, and it’ll strip away any unsavory odors as well.
30. Make extra air-drying space with a common bathroom accessory
The laundry room might not have floor space for a stand-up drying rack. So use the room you have, say, on the walls. Hanging some towel bars that hold your bath and hand towels will give you the extra space you need for delicates that can’t tumble-dry.
29. Use a salad spinner for hand-wash-only loads
Hand-massaging your delicates can be a time-consuming task – not to mention that your labor might not leave your garments as clean as you want them. Next time, pop your garments into a salad spinner, add some of your favorite soap, and gently spin them clean. You can even dump out the water post-wash and use the spinner to dry everything.
28. Neutralize sweat stains with baby shampoo
You might need an ultra-powerful detergent to tackle the sweatiest stains in your clothes. But it turns out that famously gentle baby shampoo can do the trick. Just dab the soap onto perspiration marks and let it sit for a half-hour. Then, wash the garments as usual and watch those sweat marks disappear.
27. Hang sweaters wisely so they don’t stretch out
Air-drying a shirt isn’t as intuitive as it seems. After all, leaving certain materials to dangle on hangers can stretch them out irreparably. So, learn to hang yours properly so that they’ll dry and keep their form. First, fold your knitwear in half, leaving the sides long. Then, grab your hanger and angle the hook so that it’s near the armpit. Finally, fold the bottom of the sweater and the sleeves over your hanger. Nice!
26. Keep a piece of chalk in the kitchen
Even if you don’t have a chalkboard nearby, it’s wise to keep a stick of chalk in your kitchen. It turns out that the material is very absorbent – making it the perfect tool for tackling grease stains. So, if you’re cooking with oil and it splatters, quickly cover it with chalk to handle the grease until you can properly wash your outfit.
25. Harness the power of the sun
Return brightness to your next load of whites by laundering them on a sunny day. Rather than tossing them in the dryer, leave them to dry laid flat outside. Three or four hours under the sun will effectively brighten your uncolored clothes – no bleach required.
24. Hairspray your ink stains
Don’t count ink-stained garments as a loss. Instead, grab a bottle of hairspray or hand sanitizer and get to spritzing. Let your stain remover sit for ten minutes, then toss the garment into the wash for its usual cycle. The pre-treatment will make lifting the tough stain easy for your machine. Job done!
23. Deodorize your clothes with cheap vodka
You might wonder how this works because cheap vodka doesn’t smell delightful. But if you pick up an inexpensive bottle of booze, pour it into a spray bottle, and spritz your clothes, you’ll see how effective it is in neutralizing foul odors. Mist it over an outfit so you can wear it once more before you wash it, and it’ll still smell fresh. And no, it won’t smell boozy!
22. Wield your hair straightener as a back-up iron
Iron can eliminate prominent creases, but what about the finer wrinkles between buttons and hems? Turns out, you can use your hair straightener to finesse these more minor imperfections. Clean the plates to remove any styling product residue before using the device on freshly washed garments. That would only make a mess.
21. Clean your iron with another laundry supply
If you still have dryer sheets, don’t throw them away just yet: use them to clean your iron. Start by setting your iron to its lowest heat level and laying a dryer sheet onto your board. When the iron’s warm, run the metal plate over the sheet, and the sheet will latch onto all the grimy stuff stuck in your iron.
20. Erase stains on the go with this bathroom staple
It’s annoying to find a color on your outfit while you’re on the go – and it’s worse when you don’t have a change of clothes. Next time that happens, though, rely on this unlikely remedy: shaving cream. This product, commonly stashed in showers and medicine cabinets, has the right ingredients and foamy consistency to lift stains quickly. Rub some of it into the mark, let it sit, and then blot until it disappears. A real time-saver.
19. Soak up oil stains with baby powder
Spilling oil on your clothes can spell disaster because these shiny stains never come out. But if you think fast and reach for a bottle of baby powder, you can save your garment. Cleaning expert Aya Bradley explained to variety website The Zoe Report in 2020, “All you have to do is sprinkle baby powder on the oil stains and let them soak overnight. It’s like magic.”
18. Take laundry notes with a dry-erase marker
Let’s say someone else is throwing your wash into the dryer. Or maybe you don’t always remember what needs to be plucked from the load before it tumbles dry. Either way, you can keep track of what in the washer doesn’t go in the dryer with the help of a dry-erase marker. Write your notes onto the machine so that you see them and know what comes out and when.
17. Freeze away bad smells
You don’t want to wash your jeans yet, but they no longer smell so fresh. Luckily, there’s a solution to this puzzle: your freezer. Stick your denim and other lightly worn garments into the cold overnight. Somehow, the frigid temperatures wick the bad smells away from your clothes. And you’ve heard that you don’t need to wash jeans anyway, right?
16. Use salt to save colors
You can extend the life of your favorite brightly colored garment with a bit of salt. Those who throw it into the wash with their most pigmented pieces say it works because of the chloride that’s part of salt. This element is said to stall the fading process, too. Intriguing.
15. Repel odors with a smelly soak
You might wonder how something as strongly scented as vinegar can neutralize odors, but don’t question it – try it. Add a half-cup of white vinegar to cold water. Then, soak smelly and sweat-laden clothes in the brew, neutralizing odors and breaking down unpleasant buildup. After giving your clothes at least an hour in this solution, toss them in the washer to complete the job. Just don’t put them in the dryer afterward.
14. Pool noodles make great drying racks
Don’t worry: you won’t try to hang your clothes onto pool noodles. That’d be comical but not practical. Instead, cut the foam tube to match the length of your drying rack’s rods. Then, cut the noodle lengthwise on one side so you can slip it onto the rod. That way, you can hang laundry to dry over the pool noodle, and it won’t get creased like it would on a normal airer.
13. Kitty litter saves you from red wine
Red wine is a danger to your home interiors and your clothes. Let’s say you’ve splashed some on your outfit and must soak up the deep-colored drink ASAP. Try sprinkling some kitty litter onto the maroon puddle, then press it to absorb all the spills. It sounds crazy, but it just might work.
12. Build-your-own lint roller
Sometimes, a dinky mini lint roller just won’t cut it. If you must pull fuzz and pet hair from your bed linens or another large surface, create this DIY, super-sized lint roller. All you have to do is wrap a paint roller with inside-out duct tape and start picking up dirt on your clothes, furniture, and more. Sweet!
11. Have a sticky stain? Use ice
Let’s say you sit on a park bench, stand up, and realize someone else’s gum is stuck to you. Fear not: you can quickly get it off of your clothes. Just place an ice cube or any other sticky stains on it. Let it sit for a few minutes, and you can quickly peel away the hardened residue. Pretty cool, no?
10. Need to iron your clothes fast? Grab an ice cube
We told you ice cubes were handy! With the help of an ice cube, you can turn your dryer into a steamer and get rid of wrinkles fast. Throw creased clothes into the basin with a couple of ice cubes before turning the dryer to its highest setting. The heat-and-ice combo will create steam and smooth out the unsightly lines in your garments.
9. Clean dryer filter with a paint stick
Grab a wooden paint stick or two next time at the hardware store. These freebies can help you clean your dryer’s lint trap quickly. Just wrap one of them in a dampened rag or old pillowcase. Then, push it into the space and move it around to gather all lingering lint. Do this regularly to prevent clogs in your dryer vent, a common issue that can cause a house fire if left unfixed.
8. Toss a clean towel into the dryer with your wet clothes
You can turn up the heat and hope your clothes dry faster – or you can try this proven hack. Throw a clean towel with your wet clothes, then press start on the machine. Somehow, this combination helps your garments to dry faster, and you have to refold the towel and put it away afterward.
7. Raid your pantry to darken darks – or lighten whites
Black clothes will fade over time – that is, unless you have the grinds to brew a pot of coffee. Add a cup of it – or a cup of tea – to your wash cycle and watch as it revives the color of your darkest wardrobe pieces. Meanwhile, you can brighten your whites with another kitchen must-have: lemons. Slice them, boil them, and let the water cool. Then, let your whites soak in the mixture for an hour before throwing them into the machine for a regular wash cycle.
6. Never separate a sock pair again, thanks to this hack
You’ve probably seen those small mesh laundry bags meant to keep delicates safe in the washing machine. Grab one – but don’t fill it with your most precious pieces. Instead, hang it on your hamper and fill it with your socks. Then, on laundry day, zip up the container and throw it right into the wash. It’ll keep all your footwear together – no more searching for pairs of socks.
5. Unshrink your clothes with baby shampoo
We’ve mentioned baby shampoo a few times on this list. But that’s because this is a must-have in your laundry cabinet. Perhaps this hack will sway you if you haven’t stocked up yet. Pour two tablespoons of baby shampoo into a bucket of tepid water. You can soak shrunken clothes, such as sweaters, in that mixture for 20 minutes. After that, you can flatten and lay the garment as taut as possible to restore it to its original shape and size.
4. Soak up stains with white bread
If you’re out to eat and can’t quickly treat a color on your clothes, reach for that complimentary basket of bread on the table. A white slice can soak up what you spill; blot it over the affected area. You can even use this method to remove a lipstick stain on your clothes. You know, should you ever need to do that.
3. Roll up and dry sweaters like burritos
It can take sweaters a while to dry – unless you know a fun hack like this. Lay your shirt on a dry towel. Then, grab both pieces and roll them together like a yoga mat. Press lightly to remove as much moisture as possible once your garment’s wrapped up in the towel.
2. DIY a dryer sheet if you can’t give up the smell of them
We’ve already touched on the fact that dryer sheets aren’t great for your clothes. But no one can deny that they smell good – and perhaps you miss the scent they left behind. If so, try this hack: soak a towel in fabric softener, then let it air-dry completely. You can then throw the towel into the dryer with each load of laundry, and it’ll last for 40 to 50 cycles before it’s time to re-douse it in the softener.
1. Don’t forget to clean your washing machine
The dirt washing out of your clothes can sometimes get stuck in the machine. So restore the basin to a grime-free shine by washing the washer with two washes: a quart of vinegar then a second with a cup of baking soda. The vinegar loosens any sticky residue, and the baking soda whisks it away.