Today almost everything but the child goes into the washing machine. Bleach of one kind or another does wonders with really dirty clothes. Some parents change brands of laundry detergent occasionally, feeling that the new brand washes out the residue of the old, and clothes get cleaner. If you take your laundry to a laundromat, carry your detergent in old baby food jars or self-closing plastic bags to lighten the load. And remember, there's no law that says kids' play clothes must be spotless!

Get grimy socks white by soaking them in a solution of baking soda and water before laundering. Yes, bleach works, too. Or boil them in water with a sliced lemon.

Soak egg-stained clothing in cold water for an hour before laundering. Hot water will set the stain.

Soak vomit-stained clothes in cold water, and sponge stains with a solution of a quart of ammonia and a half teaspoon of liquid detergent.

Use bottled rug shampoo with a brush (and lots of suds) for winter coats that need dry cleaning. It works on both wool and corduroy.

Pour boiling water through grape-juice-stained areas of clothing over a sink or bowl.

Place a piece of waxed paper over gum on clothing or fabric. Run a warm iron over the area to "melt" the gum onto the waxed paper. Or use masking tape to lift it off.

Kid-Created Stains

Something our parents failed to mention (or we chose to ignore) is the joy and frustration of continual laundry. Parents need to become experts in stain removal and in keeping mounds of clothing in motion.

Over the years, various people have recommended the following items for stain removal. I won't vouch for each of them. Often their effectiveness depends on the nature of the stain, how old it is, and the nature of the fabric. The following list includes options you may want to try. One or more may work for you.

Ballpoint pen/ink:

  • Hair spray
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Vinegar on painted surfaces

Crayon:

  • Goo Gone
  • WD-40

Blood:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • A paste of meat tenderizer
  • Shampoo rubbed in, then cold water wash
  • Whink Wash Away
  • Goo Gone

Grass:

  • Alcohol
  • Shampoo
  • Simple Green
  • Tilex Soap Scum Remover
  • Soak overnight, then wash with bleach
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Whitewall tire cleaner
  • Whink Wash Away

Grease:

  • Baby/talcum powder, then brush off
  • Baking soda
  • Club soda
  • Crisco
  • Go Jo
  • Oven cleaner
  • Goo Gone

Spills/stains:

  • Baby wipes
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach on a cotton swab
  • Club soda
  • Liquid dishwasher detergent
  • Murphy's Oil Soap
  • Oven cleaner
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Shaving cream
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Window spray

Many companies claim their product alone is good in every situation. My preference is to try baking soda first, as a paste or sprinkled on. It can't do any harm, and you can always try something else if it doesn't work.