The secret to fresh-smelling towels straight from the wash? Vinegar. Add one to two cups to your hot cycle—and skip the soap. Then cycle through again as normal. Machine dry until there's no moisture left and you'll have spa-fresh towels.
Related: 10 Handy Household Uses for Vinegar
DIY Bleach Pen
Bleach pens are a great weapon in your laundry arsenal. And making your own is an easy way to save. Mix two tablespoons of cornstarch in a cup of water and stir on the stovetop until boiling. Once the mixture thickens, remove and allow to cool completely. For full details, check out Me and My DIY.
There are two reasons to eschew store-bought detergent for the homemade variety. First off, DIY detergent costs next to nothing, which means there's a financial incentive. There's a health incentive, too; making your own gives you full control over the ingredients used. A simple recipe involves nothing more than bar soap, washing soda (sodium carbonate), and borax—the latter of which kills mold and mildew. Click here to get step-by-step instructions.
DIY Fabric Softener
Available in stores either as a liquid or in the form of dryer sheets, commercial fabric softener lives it up to name. What you may not know is that, even though it costs significantly less, vinegar works just as well as those products. Pour the vinegar directly into the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine, and if you choose, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (for scent) plus about a quarter-cup of rubbing alcohol (for disinfecting).
Lay Out a Folding Station
When working in a smaller laundry room or nook—every inch matters. Take advantage of the space above two front-loaders by installing a wood countertop; Bryn Alexandra bought and cut plywood at Lowe's to serve as a countertop for folding clean laundry.
Related: 8 (Nearly) Invisible Laundry Rooms
Save Lost Socks with a Clothespin
Rather than stuffing single socks into a drawer until their mate turns up, it's best to keep them out as a visual reminder. Create a lost-and-found zone by attaching several clothespins to a plank of wood, each separated by 3 inches or so. Then, pin up orphan socks as you spot them coming out the dryer!
Related: 10 Novel Uses for the Classic Clothespin
Squeeze in More Storage
When you're short on space in the laundry room, things can get chaotic quick. But it might turn out the best storage space is hiding right under your feet—or under your machines, rather. Store-bought washer and dryer pedestals are expensive, though. So forget buying and start DIY-ing! To get started, read the full explanation at A Diamond in the Stuff.
Related: How to Make Any Room Into a Laundry Room
The next time you’re playing a game of doubles, remember to bring the tennis balls inside for your dryer. Tennis balls are great alternatives to dryer sheets and as a bonus, they soften your laundry. Before mixing them in with your load, wrap them in an old white sock to prevent color bleeding. In addition to fluffing heavy materials like comforters, coats, and pillows, the tennis balls also helps your laundry dry faster.
Related: Why Isn’t the Dryer Drying?
Write on the Machine
Keep a dry erase marker handy by your washer and dryer to leave laundry-related notes and reminders for each other. Any special instructions can now be easily communicated and you'll avoid shrinking all those clothes that should have never gone in the dryer. For even better organization, use different colors for certain care labels—and remember to clean the marker off after each load.
For more smart ideas for a cleaner home, try:
8 Unorthodox Tips for the Cleanest Bathroom Ever
10 Home Cleaners to Borrow from the Pantry
7 Surprising Household Uses for Mayonnaise
flickr.com via Chiot's Run
If you must do laundry (and you must), you might as well make the chore as easy as possible. We've rounded up the best buys to make your laundry room safer, cleaner, and more productive. Even better? They can all be had for a bargain. Go now!