But first, a question: If you are over the age of 25, do you still own any clothing that you wore in high school? I'd love to hear what you've saved!
I am officially 10 years out of college (ack!), and I have discovered a handful of items that have stuck around through years of thrift store cast-off sessions. I owe this in large part, I believe, to our front-loading washer. I'm amazed at how gently it treats my clothing.
Now I'm finding that other issues arise besides clothing that wears out. I (ahem) have outgrown a few things, others go out of style, and many others develop stains. I am not a graceful athlete and apparently, not a graceful eater, either.
And just why is it that stains never seem to show up until after they've been stored for awhile?
Baby Spit-Up Stains
Soak the afflicted items overnight in a mixture of oxi-clean and water. If there are kids or pets around, be sure you soak in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Wash as usual, then hang in the sun to dry.
Berry Smush Stains
Boil a kettle of water. Turn the article of clothing inside out and pour the hot water over the stain from back to front. Launder as usual. Yes, I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but it does work.
In this case, the sooner you treat, the better. Don't even bother to pre-treat if you are dealing with kids' clothing. Just take the item to the kitchen sink and hand wash with liquid dish soap. This got ketchup out of my son's ivory shirt sleeve just the other night. Wash as usual. The ingredients in the soap that get rid of grease on your pans also get rid of grease on your clothes. (Which is a good thing when you stand too close frying bacon.)
Sweaty Armpit Stains
Eww, gross, right? How many men's undershirts get tossed because of this? Well, this is actually a problem because of deodorant buildup more than sweat. I just tried this on a white linen shirt that's been in storage (last summer I was wearing maternity clothing). It was not only yellowed but had sparkly grit in the seam.
Lay the shirt on a white towel or countertop that will not stain or bleach. I used my cultured marble bathroom sink. Combine equal parts baking soda, water and hydrogen peroxide. Brush into the stain with a clean toothbrush and let sit for 15 minutes. Consider brushing from the inside and outside of the shirt, and getting into all the creases of the seams. Wash as usual and tumble dry or hang in the sun for additional bleaching.
Well, there you have it. I hope you can save some of your favorite items with these inexpensive and green stain-treaters! And what you can't salvage, maybe you can make into rags.
*These were all attempted on regular wash-and-wear clothing. I make no claims about special fabrics like silk and suede. If you have kids, are you really wearing that anyway?