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Betty's Book of Laundry Secrets

Good Housekeeping Stain Rescue! : The A-Z Guide to Removing Smudges, Spots and Other Spills

Talking Dirty Laundry with the Queen of Clean

The Royal Guide to Spot and Stain Removal

Heloise Conquers Stinks and Stains

Classic Household Hints : Over 500 Old and New Tips for a Happier Home

1,001 Old-Time Household Hints : Timeless Bits of Household Wisdom for Today's Home and Garden

Mary Ellen's Best of Helpful Hints : Fast-Easy-Fun Ways of Solving Household Problems

Hints from Heloise

Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean

Heloise Hints for All Occasions

How the Queen Cleans Everything

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Bleeding of Colors: Your red shirt got mixed in with other clothes and ruined them? First off, DON'T DRY THEM! Wash again with regular detergent and color-safe bleach. If that didn't work, Rit, the makers of clothes dye, makes a color remover that works wonders and doesn't cost much. To prevent bleeding in the first place, wash in cold water; I also use a cup of salt OR a scoop of Oxi Clean with every load.
Blood on Clothes: Pour hydrogen peroxide on blood and rinse with cold water. If some blood remains, repeat. (Submitted by Michele Dutcher)
Burn / Scorch Marks: If the fabric is washable, brush it gently with a soft brush or dry sponge to remove loose carbon particles. Then, wash the fabric with regular detergent and color-safe bleach. This will permanently weaken the fabric even more than the scorch has, but the scorch may no longer be noticeable.
Burnt Stuff on Iron: Rub iron with aluminum foil to remove burnt on starch, etc.
Deodorant Stains on the Underarms of Washable Shirts: Sponge on white vinegar (or soak stain in it); wait 30 minutes. Launder shirts in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Using an enzyme detergent or a detergent with bleach alternative check care labels to be sure this is okay). I sometimes put liquid laundry detergent right on the area, leave it for five to ten minutes, then wash. To prevent: Let deodorant dry before dressing. And don't let stains sit! Apply prewash spray or liquid detergent ASAP, then launder. Every third or fourth washing, use the hottest water safe for the shirts.
Down Comforters / Jackets: These can, indeed, be washed rather than dry cleaned. Any stains, such as the grime on the cuffs of a jacket, should be spot-cleaned with a pre-treater, then rinsed with water. Wash the item in the gentle cycle with mild detergent. The key is to ensure the down is rinsed extremely well. Then, place in the dryer rather than line drying. This allows the feathers to plump up again. Place large knotted towels or tennis balls in the dryer with it to help fluff the down. The only caution is, if the item has weak seams or fragile fabric it could "explode" and leave you with only down. If there are stains remaining, place it (on a blanket) outdoors in full sunshine for a day or two. This often helps. If not, at least your comforter will have that outdoor fresh smell. (Submitted by Koilaf and michelle6802)
Dryer Tip: Include a few tennis balls in each dryer cycle. The tennis balls not only cut drying time by 25% - 50%, but also fluff the clothes to a delicate softness, and towels with be especially fluffy. (Submitted by a site visitor)
Fabric Softener: I have been using an old dish towel as a fabric softener sheet. I pour a couple of capfuls of Downey on it and throw it in the dryer. It has taken over a year to go thru a bottle of (small) Downey fabric softener. I add more Downey about every 15 loads or just when I notice a little static. It helps to use a towel that is distinct from the other laundry. I use a pink towel, which is a one of a kind in our house. (Submitted by a site visitor)
Fading: Turn dark clothes inside out and wash in the coolest water possible; dry on lowest heat. For all-black clothes and linens, throw in a box of black Rit dye every 8-10 washes or so to keep black clothes black.
Foggy Mirrors and Glass: Spray a generous amount of good ol' fashioned shaving cream (not gel) onto the mirror or window and rub in with a clean cloth. Use a new clean cloth until all streaks are gone. This will prevent fogging as long as you don't wipe or clean the glass.
Gasoline On Clothing: Gasoline is an oil based product, therefore, use another oil based product to pull out the odor (which is left because all the gas oil has not been removed yet). You can use any kind of oil that normally washes out of clothing, like baby oil. Put some of the oil into the washer along with the clothes, let it swish around for a while, then put in the detergent and all should come out okay. Be sure not to use a dryer to dry these clothes, as it could cause a fire.
General Stain Removal for Clothing: Read the label! If it says dry-clean only, dry-clean it. If it's washable, try cleaning fluid, spot remover, or petroleum-based pre-wash spray. Place garment stain side down on paper towels and dab cleaner on stain using a terry-cloth towel or scrub brush. Check paper towels underneath and move frequently so there's always a clean area under the stain to absorb soil. Let area dry and check it. If stain remains, treat with prewash spray and launder. Before drying, check again. Still visible? Repeat steps.
Glitter on Clothing: That new sparkly shirt shedding glitter all over the place? Spray with aerosol hair spray to make it stay put. Wash separately from other clothes, or at least wash it inside out if you must wash with other articles of clothing.
Grease Stains: Sprinkle a generous amount of cornstarch or baby powder over the grease stain, allow it to sit for a couple of minutes, then brush the powder off. The powder absorbs the grease and it brushes off with the powder.
Gum On Clothing: Use egg whites to remove gum on clothing. Brush egg white onto gum with a toothbrush. Let sit for 15 minutes and then launder on the items normally.
Ink Stains: The best way I have found to get out ink stains is to put rubbing alcohol on the stain - it disappears! This must be done before washing. (Submitted by Darvin Mossing)
Laundry Basket Freshener: Place a fabric softener sheet in the bottom of your laundry basket (remember to change it weekly.) You can also simply sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of your basket and that will help absorb the odors as well.
Linen Closet: In the linen closet, place cotton balls that have been sprayed with your favorite scent. Once they are dry, place them in corners and on the shelves.
Lint: Keep lint off dark clothes by not washing them with towels, washcloths, dishrags, etc. This is where a majority of the lint comes from and it's just easier to eliminate them. (Submitted by michelle6802) Another way to get lint to stay off clothes in the washer is to add 1 cup distilled white vinegar to the load with the detergent.
Lipstick: Use petroleum jelly for removing lipstick stains. Another possibility is to rub in a little vegetable shortening and then launder as normal.
Mildew Stains: Shake or brush the item to remove loose growth. Presoak in cold water. Wash in hot water with heavy duty detergent. For whites, add 1/2 cup bleach. If colored, use color-safe bleach. If staining remains on white items, repeat washing before drying. Dry thoroughly; heat and sun tend to kill mildew.
Mothball Alternative: A better idea than using mothballs is to take your leftover soap slivers and put them in a vented plastic bag. You place the bag with seasonal clothes before packing them away. Not only will the scent prevent them from moth harm but also they'll smell great when you pull them out. I especially like this for sweaters, which can be difficult to remove the odor of mothballs from. Using soap you simply have a clean smell rather than the smell of an attic.
Mothball Odors: This odor is a hard one to get rid of. Your first step is ventilation - air out larger items outside for a day or two; for clothes, fluff in the dryer with fabric softener sheets for a couple of hours. Odor removers such as Febreeze may help. If an entire room or closet is affected, place trays of activated charcoal (available in pet supply stores) in the corners of the rooms to absorb the smell.
Panty Hose / Nylons: To stop a run in panty hose, dab nail polish over the run; clear polish is best, for obvious reasons, but any color will do. To strengthen nylons, spray with aerosol hair spray when you first put them on.
Perspiration Stains/Odor: Soak the stained shirt in equal parts ammonia and water and add a few Tbls. of liquid dish soap overnight. Then, wash the shirts as usual.
Rust and Mineral Stains: Add 1 cup of bottled lemon juice in the wash to remove discoloration from cotton laundry.
Soiled Shirt Collars: Take a small paintbrush and brush hair shampoo into soiled shirt collars before laundering. Shampoo is made to dissolve body oils.
Spaghetti Stains: Wet the fabric and then sprinkle with powdered dish detergent. Scrub gently with a toothbrush. Rinse the item and launder normally.
Sour Smelling Towels: Whenever possible, always use bleach when washing towels. If this is not possible (for colored towels), pour a cup of white vinegar or 1/4 cup Febreeze into the washer with the towels and detergent. Never overload the washer with too many towels (or clothes, for that matter), as they will not have room to agitate and clean thoroughly. Never let a washed, wet load of laundry of any kind sit in the washer for long; dry as soon as possible. For a towel you are currently using, hang it in a fashion that will allow it to dry completely between uses; if thrown on the floor in a ball or folded over a towel bar, it can quickly mildew and the smell is hard to get rid of.
Travel Saver: Whenever you travel carry along a stain pretreatment stick. Taking the time to use it on stains before they set ensures that they will wash out when you get home.

White-Out / Liquid Paper and Permanent Marker Stains: Dab some sunscreen over the stain and rub off with a paper towel. Repeat until stain is gone.

Yellowed / Grayed Whites: Rit, the makers of clothes dye, makes a white-wash that works well for bleachable and non-bleachable clothing that has yellowed or grayed. You can also hang yellowed clothes out to dry whenever possible to reduce the yellow.

Zippers: To make a zipper slide up and down more smoothly, rub a bar of soap over the teeth.


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