The Laundry Doctor Is In By: Martin Satriani

American households are washing about 400 loads of laundry a year. That’s a lot of time in the laundry room. Doing laundry seems to get more complicated every year, with new fabrics, washing machines and additives. You aren’t alone in your confusion; even your mom had questions about the best treatment of her family’s wash.

Today, help that your mother never had is here. Harold Baker, also known as Dr. Laundry, offers tips and advice on his own blog. Baker, a senior scientist for laundry care and 30-year veteran at The Clorox Company, provides answers to pressing laundry questions. His is one of the first blogs available on the Internet to focus on laundry and stain removal.

Dr. Laundry washes away the mystery surrounding common laundry questions such as:

Q: How do I treat a stain when I’m not near a washing machine?

A: It is best to deal with stains as soon as possible. The probability of success in removing stains can decrease with time. Always remove as much of the stain as possible. Try scraping or lifting away excess residue, or gently blot the stain with a cloth or towel. Do not rub or push stain further into the fiber. Rinsing in cool water is useful on most fabrics.

Q: What can I do for stains that happen on striped shirts or pants?

A: Pre-treating or pre-soaking is a great way to start dissolving stains. Try using a Bleach Pen on the white part of your item. Clorox Bleach Pen Gel allows you to put bleach exactly where you want. Use the scrubber tip to squeeze the bleach gel onto the stain, rub, and then wash immediately with an all- or mostly-white load using with the warmest water recommended for those items.

Q: I’m planning to replace my washing machine this year. There are so many options out there nowadays. What are the advantages to a high efficiency machine?

A: High efficiency machines tend to save energy by using less water, and have a little better cleaning performance than conventional top-loaders. Their high spin speeds remove more water, meaning clothes can dry faster in the dryer, too. One drawback could be their price. Many cost upwards of $1,000. Dr. Laundry’s advice: Like any major home appliance purchase, it’s best to determine your washer priorities before you begin your search.

Q: I’m confused about bleach. Is it OK to use bleach on colored clothes?

A: It is perfectly safe to use liquid bleach on a lot of colors. Do a simple bleachability test in a small out-of-the-way area to be sure (see bottle or www.clorox.com). Bleach can kill unseen bacteria and body soil that detergent can leave behind. Not bleachable? Consider trying bleach for colors, which is specially formulated to be safe on colors and fabrics.

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