hintsandthings.co.uk »Utility Room

Laundry Tips e.g. dealing with colour run, lint and how to prevent smells, odors, odours in laundry and washing, mould/mildew in laundry


For tips on sorting laundry click here!

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– I must stress I cannot guarantee results, any
remedies are undertaken at your own risk.  See Disclaimer

There are points to
remember before attacking any stain and these can be seen at http://www.hintsandthings.com/utilityroom/remember.htm
and some products can damage certain fabrics. Before undertaking any
remedy I would test on a inconspicuous area first to ensure no adverse


I am often asked how
to remove lint/tissue from items
– here are a few suggestions of
things you could try:-

  • Re-launder in the normal manner but ensure the machine is not overloaded. The lighter the load the more effective the wash and rinse will be. Then, if possible and the fabric allows it, dry in a tumble drier. When dry shake vigorously to remove any loose tissue/lint particles.

  • Any remaining lint can be removed by using the sticky side of adhesive tape (this is easiest if the tape is wound around the hand – sticky side out of course).

  • Alternatively, a dry foam sponge or even rubber gloves my work.

  • You could also try one of the new magic erasers – (as featured here
    http://www.mrclean.com/sites/en_US/mrclean/products/eraser.shtml) – this is just one supplier they are readily available. I have no idea where you are located and, therefore, cannot give you local supplier details. If you are in the UK I know Lakeland have them. They are meant to remove marks (and do most effectively), however, it may just do the trick and would be very gentle on the fabric.

  • If all else fails and you feel you have nothing to lose you could try using one of the green scouring pads (Scotchbrite) or a very, very fine sandpaper. Do not rub hard though just draw them gently over the remaining lint.

I searched everywhere
on the Net for advice on what to do when the family leave tissues in their
pockets -I usually check before loading the washing machine but was
too tired last night and lo and behold the laundry is covered in
bits which won’t shake off.

I think I’ve just found
the answer though – wipe smooth surfaces with the coarse side of a pan
scourer. Hope this helps someone.

Sheila Levy

To remove the little
fuzzy balls
on sweatshirts and sweaters, before washing brush gently with a piece of fine
sandpaper.   Makes things like new again.  The finer the knit the finer the
sandpaper.   Works on furniture, fabrics and blankets too.  Just go lightly!

I have heard of sticky
tape and electric razors but not this one.



Additional tip – I also keep an old green scourer
or piece of dry, clean sponge to remove the lint from the tumble dryer filter. You have to be very gentle but I find it works extremely well. 


We have received this tip from a ballroom
dancer, but it could prove useful for similar problems:-

“We use dance colour on top of
self-tanning to deepen the tan for competitions.  My partner’s white bow ties, shirts
and collars get very stained due to a dye being used in the dance colour product.

This can be removed by using Dylon
Run-Away (made in the U.K.)  This product is for removing dye stains in
light-coloured clothing that has been washed with strong colours that are not
colourfast.  The solution is very strong and one must follow the instructions very

Sent in by Beryl
Stout, slightly edited by me

Another common laundry
problem, is colour/color run – when dark items
are washed with whites causing the dark dyes to transfer and discolour other
items.  Obviously remedies depend on the type of fabric involved.

There are products on the
market but the names differ country by country.

In the U.K. there used to be
products made by Dylon called “Dygon”
and Dylon Runaway
but I cannot see them listed on Dylon’s current site although you may still
be able to find them in some suppliers. There is, however, a product called
Dr. Beckmann Colour Run Remover

  • You
    could try soaking them in one of the new Oxyclean products or ALL FABRIC


  • If the material will
    withstand it a mild chlorine bleach solution may be the answer.

  • For coloured fabrics and
    whites that cannot tolerate chlorine bleach, soak in an enzyme presoak
    product, (like Shout®), then launder.


  • Hydrogen peroxide is the
    most common household remedy for such things. It can be bought in chemists
    (pharmacies) and is sold in different strengths – ask for 20 volume
    strength. This is suitable for coloured items but test for colour fastness
    on each garment first.

Mix 1 part to 6 parts
water and soak for 30 minutes or until the stain has cleared.

Hydrogen peroxide is also
good for removing food dye stains such as curry.

I had the same problem
some years ago with my son’s yellow teeshirt – having tried everything else
I could think of I had nothing to lose, so I left it soaking overnight in a
diluted bleach solution (expecting it to come up with white patches) but, in
fact, it did the trick. The colour was restored and he was able to wear it
for many for years. As I say, though, it does depend on the material and
dyes used on the shirt in question.

  • In the future try soaking
    such items in salt before the first wash as this helps to set the colours.

Colour Catcher
it allows you to wash both colours and whites in the
same load.
  This is a great way to save money and time. 
Really cool idea!  I use it all the time – It’s never failed me
once.  It really helps when you have half a load of whites and half a
load of colours because you can just throw them into together.  Saves
on the electricity bill too!

Sally Chapman

To stop dark colours from
, fill the washer with cold water and white vinegar.

Contributed by

Add a cup of white wine vinegar to the
rinse cycle to keep dark clothes from fading.

Thanks to Tia

For clothes that can’t be
laundered with bleach, use ammonia.  It won’t fade colours nor damage synthetic
fabrics or elastic.  It also disinfects like a bleach.

Thank you Debbw.

N.B. I am not sure what
effect (if any) these products will have on washing machines!



Here is some useful
advice on how to avoid and/or remove unpleasant smells for washing and

I recently received a cry for help from a
lady suffering from “smelly laundry” to which I had no really effective answer
except for the obvious washing products.  I sought your help and, once again, you
have come up trumps.  Here are some of the replies received which may help other
people with similar problems.

recently contacted Hotpoint regarding this problem and received
the following reply which she kindly passed on to me in the hope that it
will help others –

“After Liaising
with our technical department they have advised the following. If you use
low temperature washes (below 50c) the bacteria will form and give off a
smell, bacteria is not killed in temperatures below 60c. Liquid detergents
do not have any bleach content and this will add to the problem. I would
suggest that the you carry out a maintenance wash without a load at the
highest temperature using a well known brand of biological powder, this
will start to kill the bacteria but it may take a while and may need to be
frequently repeated.”


One of the most most popular remedies:

Put vinegar into the wash water.
     Thanks Elaine.

One cup of white vinegar in the final
rinse water.  When this has run through the machine, refill with a second cold water
rinse and finish the laundry in the usual way
.    Thanks

Wash in white vinegar and let them soak.
  About a cup and a half in a large load of warm water and then wash normally.  
Rinse well.
Thanks Bjinouno.

Try adding some vinegar in the water or
baking soda – these will usually get rid of odours.

Thanks Babs.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the
final rinse water.  Do not use apple cider vinegar.  The white vinegar freshens
by killing any soap residue left in the clothes as well as softening the water. Also try
haning the laundry outside, nothing smells sweeter or fresher than air dried clothes.
   Courtesy of Bonnie – thank you.

I used to live in a small town with well
water.  Not only did my clothes smell funny but they also turned brown from the
water.  The women who had lived in this town all their lives suggested I use Snowy
Bleach***.  Fill the tub with water, add detergent and the dry bleach (Snowy) and turn
the machine on to agitate.  Then add the clothes and wash. 
  Thanks Jo.

product has been getting more and more difficult to find and I have just
been informed (3rd July, 2008) by Cheryl
as follows

I contacted the manufacturer (Reckitt Benckiser in Parsippany NY – tel
800-228-4722).  They have discontinued Snowy Bleach as of November
2007 due to poor sales.  No place to buy it anymore.  Maybe if
enough people complain they will bring it back, although sales volume does
the talking. “

I wonder if it
ever occurred to them that poor sales maybe due to lack of


If it is the water, they make products
for hard water.  When I have tough odours in my laundry adding a cup of baking soda
to my wash water with the detergent usually cures the problem and won’t even hurt gentle
Pati contributed this

Put one half cup of
baking soda or Borax in one load of laundry this will remove stains or odors from
Thanks Helen Elouise Baker.

If possible dry washing
in the open air.  If it is the water, try contacting your city water plant to see if
there might be a type of filter to fit over the faucet or hose to the washer. 

Courtesy of Susan

Fabreze is wonderful and they now have a
detergent out as well.  Spray the new wash with the spray and try the laundry product
next.  If the problem persists get the number of your local Amway distributor, they
have an inexpensive water test kit – they could test the water and give her advice from
Thanks Linda

If the cold water has no odor or bad
taste then try flushing your water heater.  The rods inside could be bad.  I
once had a problem with hot water only smelling like rotten eggs and found the problem was
in the water heater
.     Thanks

If well water may have to go deeper.
  If city water a softener or water treatment plan with the water treatment company
may be the answer.
     Ed Prowse.

I find that an oxygen-based bleach (not a
chlorine one) can help get the smell out of clothes.  Sometimes they are sold
separately – you add a scoopful or two to your wash along with your normal powder – some
powders include them.  Hard water needs more powder than usual and you may need to
dissolve the powder in a bit of hot water and add that to the rest first or use liquid
instead of powder.
Thank you Kim.

If laundry is left in the basin while it
is damp dry for days or even several hours this will cause the problem.  Fabreze,
which comes as a spray for upholstery or as a liquid laundry aid is very good.

  Thanks to “mjg”

The next very comprehensive response came
from Rose (and husband)- many thanks.

My husband used to be an appliance
repairman and he gave me some information that may help.

If this lady has an automatic washer as
most of us do these days, there are two tubs in it.  An inner tub and an outer tub.
  Sometimes there develops a sediment of laundry detergent and fabric softener which
leaves a smell afterwards.  Try putting a large box of baking soda in the washer and
doing a complete wash with NO CLOTHES in it and see if that helps.  If need be, try
doing it a second time.  This should resolve the problem.

Also many people don’t realise that when
you put fabric softener in the washer you need to dilute it with some water because it
could leave black marks on your clothes if you use it full strength and it will also leave
a build up in the dispenser itself.

I stopped using powdered detergents
because they don’t dissolve which causes a build up in the clothes washer and also in your
dishwasher.  I use only liquid detergents.

On a personal note I must admit this
happened to me.  The powder built up inside the water pipes until it eventually
blocked completely (a bit like arteries) preventing any dirty water leaving the house.
  This resulted in us having to have the drains unblocked by professionals.  I
never use powder detergents now.

If well water is being used is may have
sulphur (smells like rotten eggs) in the water and would need to put in a water filter
system before the water comes into the house.

If it is city water, there would be a
chlorine bleach sort of smell which would also need the water filter system installed.


To avoid the necessity of

sorting socks
after washing, clip them together in pairs before laundering.


For cooking oil stains on
clothes, spray Doom fly spray on the area, leave for 5 minutes and then soak
in very hot soapy water for about 30 minutes and wash as normal. Magic, all
the grease, oil has gone.

of Madelyn Armstrong


If you’re a busy mum and find an item of
clothing you forgot was damp (i.e. baby’s bib in the glove compartment in
the car) and it now has black mould spots on it, soak it in a solution of
bottle sterilizer and water – just enough to cover the garment. Rinse and
launder as usual. 

As long as it is
colour fast
, the spots will disappear and leave it clean as new.



Other Laundry