Laundry. For many of us, laundry is a huge chore that we'd be glad to hand off to someone else if we could. (And if I ever win the lottery, the first thing I'm doing is hiring a laundry person.) Since most of us are stuck doing our own laundry, the least we can do is make it as easy as possible. I'm doing wash for six people (including four messy daughters) and I need all the help I can get.
Over the years, I've found a few products that help make my laundry easier in two ways: removing stains, and fixing mistakes.
Stain Stick stain remover: The brand used to be Spray'n'Wash, but they've changed the brand name to Resolve. I love this stuff for a couple of reasons. First, it won't spill. You can carry it in the car or a suitcase without fear. Second, you can put it on ahead of washing and let the clothes sit. When my kids were little, I'd take the laundry basket out to the swingset, sit and rub stain stick on clothes while they played. I could then do the laundry when we went inside. It seems to work better if it sits a little bit, plus the outside light helped me find all the stains. Third, it gets out greasy stains better than the other products I've tried so far. I am forever dropping salad dressing (or anything, really) on the front of my knit shirts, and stain stick is the only thing that would get the residual mark out of the clothes.Oxiclean Baby: I don't know if there is any difference between Oxiclean regular and Oxiclean Baby, but I think that the Baby formula works better. Unfortunately, it is harder to find and comes in smaller containers, so I try to save it for really stubborn problems. I usually make a thin paste and smear it on the offending stain, let it sit a bit, and then wash as usual.
20 Mule Team Borax: I'm sure there are other equally good borax products available, but this is the one that they sell at my commissary. I love this stuff! I put a bunch in a washer full of hot water, add whatever needs to be destained, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, I let the washer run through its regular cycle. I use borax regular to brighten socks and other dingy stuff, and it did an amazing job on my daughter's favorite winter coat. That coat was so filthy, and I had already tried Oxiclean and Clorox 2 on it, and it just would not come clean. I could hardly believe my eyes when it came out of the borax wash - it was really clean!
Carbona Color Run Remover: I LOVE this stuff. Have you ever opened the washer to discover that one article of clothing had bled it's color all over the other clothes? I HATE that. If you are prepared, and you have some Carbona Color Run Remover handy, you can fix the problem. Put all the clothes back in the washer and follow the directions on the box. It really works, and has saved loads of clothes at my house.
Shout Color Catcher Sheets: I always have a separate pile of laundry that I am afraid will run and ruin the other clothes. Honestly, life at my house is busy enough without doing a separate load of laundry for every questionable article of clothing. Color Catcher Sheets to the rescue! These sheets, which look like dryer sheets, do a great job of catching extra color in the laundry machine. I won't claim that they are perfect, but they are really, really good. I still do a whole load of tye-dyes and other bleedy stuff together, but they usually come out OK with the Color Catcher sheets. Carbona also makes Color Grabber sheets, and they make a reusable one that looks promising.
Dryer Sheets, any brand: I'm really admitting my disorganization here, but sometimes I leave a clean load of laundry in the washer too long. Instead of washing it again, and wasting all that water and electricity, I just throw a dryer sheet in the dryer with the clothes. I don't usually use dryer sheets and this doesn't happen (too) often, so a box will easily last me a year or two. You can use each sheet more than once if you are careful and don't lose them. They come out smelling clean without rewashing.
I'm sure that some of you have picked up some good laundry tricks over the years. I am terrible at getting out stains and so I'd love to hear what works for you.