Readying Clothes for the Washer
Remove pins or buckles, zip zippers, close snaps and hooks, and secure Velcro to prevent snags and abrasion. But don’t button buttons, which can stress the buttons and buttonholes.
Empty pockets and turn them inside out, unfurl socks, and unroll cuffs. Tie sashes and strings to prevent tangling. Place delicate items like lingerie and fine knitwear in zippered mesh bags. Turn delicate items, sweaters, and cotton T-shirts inside out to prevent pilling. Put socks—oh, those socks—in a pillowcase or mesh bag so they don’t get separated.
Washing Down Pillows and Comforters
Clean down pillows in the washing machine every three to six months to remove bacteria and odors, and launder comforters only as needed, up to twice annually. (Each washing strips feathers of their natural oils, which causes them to lose their loft.) Dry both on the lowest heat setting—along with a clean tennis ball, to help evenly redistribute the feathers—and keep them even by fluffing daily when you make the bed. Between washings, air out down items, preferably outdoors on a clothesline, once or twice a year to keep them smelling fresh, and spot-treat small stains with mild dishwashing liquid and water.
DIY Fabric Softener
Residues from fabric softeners and their fragrances can aggravate allergies and sensitivities, and leave buildup on moisture sensors or lint screens, blocking air flow.
For a DIY fabric softener, add between 1/4 cup and 1 cup white vinegar to the final rinse cycle (never mix vinegar and chlorine bleach).