Get wrapped up in towel care tips
DEAR HELOISE:When my husband and I got married 30 years ago, I washed towels in hot water and usually added bleach. Believe it or not, I still have some of those towels today (used as rags), and the color is as vibrant as ever. But today's towels need to be washed in warm or sometimes even cold water. And bleach is totally out of the question. In fact, our teenage son uses a face wash that contains benzoyl peroxide, and unfortunately several towels and washcloths that have come into contact with it have been ruined. What's the deal? This doesn't seem like progress to me. — Rita, via e-mail
We get lots of questions about the bleach-or-no-bleach issue. And you're right — the acne medication that contains benzoyl peroxide acts as a bleaching agent, as you have found out. For a refresher course in Towel Care 101, read on:
• All cottons are different, so always read a towel's care label for washing and drying instructions.
• For most towels, you should use warm water and a gentle detergent. Bleach can weaken cotton fibers. Use it sparingly, if at all, and stay away from products that tout "optic brighteners"; these can actually change a towel's colors.
• If towels tend to come out stiff from the wash, try using less detergent next time.
• And for absorbency, skip the fabric softener. Dryer sheets and liquid softeners coat the fabric, and that coating reduces absorbency.
• Don't dump moist towels in a hamper, where mold and bacteria can spread. Instead, between uses, hang towels to dry. Your towels will need fewer washings and will have a longer life.
DEAR HELOISE:Without my glasses in the shower, I could not tell which bottle was shampoo and which was conditioner. I used a wide permanent black marker and marked a large "S'' and "C'' on the bottles. No more confusion. — Flossie Hulsizer, Springfield, Ohio
DEAR HELOISE:Put two clothes baskets in your kids' room — one white in color and one in a dark color. Then teach your children to sort their own laundry when they get ready for bed. This way, you already have clothes sorted by whites and colors. And you only wash a load of whites or colors when it's full! Keep up the good hints. — Jeri, Merrillville, Ind.
DEAR HELOISE:I have an easy method of keeping athletic shoes and regular-wear shoes smelling sweet. I place used dryer sheets in each shoe after I exercise to keep the "gym smell" in check. When my running shoes get wet, I place rolled-up newspapers in each shoe for 24 hours. The paper absorbs the moisture and leaves the shoes dry and ready for the next workout. I am a regular reader of your column and have picked up many helpful hints through the years. — Derck F., The Villages, Fla.