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Everyday Cheapskate: Simple Solutions for 3 Common Laundry Problems

Mary Hunt on


No matter how many times you wash those items, you just cannot get rid of the disgusting sour, mildewy odor. The problem is clear evidence of bacteria that continues to live in those items, despite having been previously laundered and dried.

Place the offending items in the washer, and set it to the hottest wash cycle available. Add the amount of detergent noted in the machine owners manual and 2 cups white vinegar (vinegar has some bacteria-killing properties) to the wash cycle. Assuming you can stop the machine once the wash cycle is complete and drained, do that. Stop the machine. If yours is a front-loader, press the cancel option. Restart the wash cycle once again with the hottest water available. Add 1 cup baking soda this time, right into the wash basket. Allow the washer to go through a complete wash, rinse and spin as usual.

Provided the water was hot enough, this should go a long way in removing the stench. If you can still detect traces of the odor, repeat this process making sure you are using very hot water. One hundred and forty degrees F is ideal for this situation.


Armpit stains on white T-shirts are caused by the reaction between antiperspirant ingredients and the salts in your sweat. Most antiperspirants contain aluminum compounds to reduce wetness. It is the aluminum that causes the buildup and yellowing on fabrics. The stains don't appear overnight, but without a proper wash after each wear, the stains will start to show.

Combine 1 part baking soda, 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 1 part water to make a solution. You will need about 1/4 cup each baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and water to treat one shirt. Protect your countertop or work area with a thick white towel. Rub the mixture into the stains, and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Use an old soft toothbrush or bristle brush to loosen any residue, and then wash as usual.


For some reason, crayons seem to find their way into little pockets and wreak havoc when the heat of the dryer causes them to melt.


Place a folded white paper towel under the stained area of fabric, and then spray WD-40 lubricant directly on the crayon stain. Turn the fabric over, and spray the stain on the back side of the fabric. Let the WD-40 work for at least 15 minutes to loosen the waxy part of the stain. Then, use a dull knife or the edge of a credit card to gently lift any crayon solids from the surface.

Next, rub a bit of dishwashing liquid, such as Blue Dawn, into the crayon mark. Work it into the stained area with your fingers or a soft brush. Allow the soap to work on the stain for 15 minutes, and then launder according to the fabric's care instructions.

If the stains were caused by crayons that melted in the dryer, it is important to clean the dryer drum. If you don't, any traces will continue to transfer to other fabrics when the dryer heats up again.

Grab that WD-40, and spray each and every stain. Let it work for a few minutes, and then use a rubber scraper to remove the solids. Wipe down the drum with an old cloth. Repeat until no more traces remain.

Before you use the dryer again for clean clothes, toss in a couple of old towels and run the dryer on high heat for at least five minutes, so they can absorb any traces of WD-40.


Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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