It’s an awful feeling. You go into the dresser to pull out your favorite shirt. The one you wait all week to wear again. The day after laundry day shirt. You pull it out, so excited to wear this shirt and it’s stained or it’s faded or it’s torn in the corner. How can you save your other favorite clothes from a similar fate? Try these laundry hacks for better clothes that last longer.

Leave The Swimsuit Out of the Washer

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Your swimsuit has already taken a beating in the chlorine of the pool — which degrades the material — and in the sun and salt of the ocean or beach. Don’t subject it to harsh detergents or the agitator of a washer. Instead, handwash your suit with bleach free detergent and hang them to dry.

Hang Black Clothes to Keep Them Black

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Black pants and shirts will fade in the dryer no matter how hard you try to keep them black. Repeated washings and dryings are hard on black clothes, so if you need to keep your black work pants from going gray, hang them after every washing. Spot clean them between washings to keep them blacker even longer.

Use a Dry Erase Marker for Laundry Reminders

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Have a shirt that can’t be hung up? A sweater that must not go in the dryer? Get a dry erase marker with a Velcro tab and stick it to the washer lid. Every time you have something that needs to be taken care of differently than the rest of the load, write it down on the washer lid. Just writing “black pants” on the lid can remind you — or the person transferring the clothes — to keep the black pants out and safe from their dryer-fading fate.

Rinse Down Items One More Time

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Stop sending your down jackets and comforters to the dry cleaners. Instead, go ahead and put it in the washer on warm but then run it through the washer ONE MORE TIME without any detergent to make sure the detergent is removed from the feathers under the fabric. Then, put the jacket or comforter in the dryer with a couple of clean tennis balls. Reduce the possibility of clumps by pulling your coat or comforter out and breaking up any clumps that may be forming.

Pin Small Items Together

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Have a baby? Does she have tiny, little socks? Washing something tiny, like Barbie clothes? Use a safety pin to pin them together so they don’t separate during washing.

Hang Your Clothes

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Hang your clothes outside old style to save them from the deteriorating effects of the dryer. Want to air dry your clothes but don’t have space for a floor rack or a clothesline outside? Take an old wooden ladder, paint it a color you like and hang it from the ceiling above your washer and dryer — or in another space that works for you. Use hangers, “S” hooks or other hooks to hang your clothes from them and dry them. You can even weave clothesline through it and hang your clothes traditionally with clothespins.

Use the Power of the Sun

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Hang stained clothes in the sun and the sun will remove the stains. Make sure the clothes are very wet when you hang them. This is also a great way to “bleach” out whites like large sheets or pillowcases.

Use Hand Sanitizer to Kill Ink Stains

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Hand sanitizer or hairspray rubbed lightly into an ink stain. Let it set for 10 minutes and then wash as normal in hot water.

Don’t Wash It – Spritz It!

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Need that shirt again tomorrow? Don’t have enough quarters for the laundromat? Want to preserve that shirt as long as possible and you know that washing it will deteriorate it faster? Spritz it with a mixture of white vinegar and water (about 1 cup of white vinegar to two cups of water in a spray bottle). Hang the shirt from a hanger and spritz away — especially any problem areas — and then let it dry on the hanger and hang dry.

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