Are you confused by all the choices of laundry products: pre-soaks, enzyme cleaners, and bleaches? Do you wonder what water temperature to use?
Here are the answers to your laundry dilemmas:
Pre-soaks and enzyme cleaners are only needed if you have heavily soiled, embedded dirt on clothing, grease stains or stubborn stains of undetermined origin.
There are 2 types of bleach, Liquid bleach, also known as sodium hypochlorite, and Oxygen bleach also called "all-fabric bleach."
Liquid bleach helps remove soil, disinfects by killing bacteria and viruses, and whitens fabrics. It works in about 5 minutes, a little faster in hot water, a little slower in cold. Water temperature, however, does not affect its effectiveness. Not all fabrics can be washed in Liquid bleach. be sure to check the garment label.
Bleach can also come in a powdered form which must dissolve in water. Follow all directions on the product and garment labels when using it. Most importantly, add bleach to the water in the machine and put the clothing in last, after the tank is full and beginning to agitate.
Oxygen Bleach or all-fabric bleach also comes in dry and liquid form. All powdered forms of oxygen bleaches contain inorganic peroxygen compounds, such as sodium perborate tetrahydrate and sodium percarbonate. Water temperature affects the bleaching rate of oxygen bleaches. Hot water accelerates the bleaching action. As water temperature decreases below 130 degrees F, exposure time must be increased substantially. Read and follow bleach package directions.
Add oxygen bleach to the wash water before clothes are added. Do not pour oxygen bleaches directly on wet, colored fabrics without testing for colorfastness first. Oxygen bleach is safe for most colored washable fabrics. However, if the care label states "No Bleach," do not use any bleach, not even an oxygen bleach.
Both types of bleaches are hazardous products to be kept out of the reach of children and pets. If you accidentally splash bleach into your eyes, flush immediately with copious amount of water and notify your physician who may want you to go to the emergency room.
Bluing is a product that restores the whiteness to white fabrics that have become gray over time. To use, read the directions on the package.
If clothing is stained, especially by grease, an unknown stain, or heavy-duty stain, use a spot remover or presoak to help loosen the grease or stain. Again, follow the directions on the label of the product, and the label of the garment.
Water temperature: Never use hot water; it wastes energy and can actually be harmful for some fabrics.
If you have hard-to-clean clothes, switch the temperature to warm. Warm water is actually a mix of hot and cold. Some machines mix the hot and cold water 50-50, although newer machines mix 60-40. Most people wash the majority of their laundry in warm water which is usually the best choice for permanent press and jeans. It allows good cleaning action without as much fading, wrinkling, and shrinking as hot water.
Cold water is used for delicate items, or fabrics with instructions to wash in cold water. Unless your clothes have oil or grease stains, cold water is usually adequate to clean white and colored clothes. In fact, washing clothes in cold water allows fabrics to retain their color and strength longer, and reduces your energy consumption by at least fifty percent. You can use specially-formulated cold-water detergents, if you prefer.