I see my role on About.com to be a patient and helpful laundry teacher. As readers submit questions, I give my best advice and solutions for laundry problems. There are no trivial questions. Each one is an attempt to learn and build on your knowledge.
But, really people. There are only so many questions I can answer until I scream to my computer...HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?
So in the spirit of David Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks, I've put together five stupid human laundry tricks. Learn from others and don't ask me these things again!
Number 5: Instead of white distilled vinegar as a fabric softener, can I use balsamic vinegar?
Why in the world would you want to use a balsamic vinegar that costs as much as $2.80 an ounce instead of white distilled vinegar that costs less than one penny per ounce? My guess is the answer is avoiding the dreaded trip to the market. Just so you'll know, aged or flavored vinegars are not acceptable for laundry use. They can stain some fabrics.
Number 4: Can I use dish detergent in my washer?
Sure, if you enjoy a sudsy waterfall cascading across your floor and leaving it a sticky, soggy mess. And, no, you cannot use dishwasher detergent either. You won't have any suds but your clothes will have bleach spots and maybe a few holes. If you are caught without laundry detergent and in need of clean clothes, either hand wash a few things using the dish soap or read this article - "Help! I'm Out of Detergent". It's been on the website for ages just waiting for you to read it!
Number 3: One cup of coffee in the rinse water isn't keeping my black clothes black; do I need to add more?
You need to go to the mountains of Colombia and find Juan Valdez and purchase a share of a coffee cartel to get enough coffee to keep black clothes black. Adding one cup of coffee to a washer rinse cycle to create black dye is like adding 1 cup of salt to a 50 gallons bucket and calling it a salt water aquarium.
Coffee can be used as a natural dye but it would take hours and hours - days - in a super-saturated solution to create a black dye. You will be much better off learning the proper techniques to keep black clothes black.
Number 2: How long should I leave oven cleaner on a stain to remove it?
My answer: It depends on how large of a hole you want in your shirt. I guessing that the rationale is oven cleaner contains lye. Old fashioned soap was made with lye water. Therefore, oven cleaner can be used to remove laundry stains. I'm also guessing that the name "Easy Off" was sounding pretty good. Oven cleaner is much too caustic to use on fabric.
Need I say, never use oven cleaner as a stain remover?
And, finally the Number 1 Stupid Human Laundry Trick:
If I use a color trapping sheet and chlorine bleach in a load of white and colored clothes, will the sheet keep the colors from bleeding?
My first reaction was, "What?" Why would you want to do that? Are you using bleach as a stain remover or a disinfectant? There are much more effective stain removers and ways to disinfect clothed clothes. Plus, when one of the color trapper sheets like Shout Color Catcher works as it should, it is capturing dye that is bleeding out of your clothes. And, it is not a miracle cloth. It can only hold just so much dye. The rest will redeposit on clothes or wash down the drain. You'll be left with a bunch of faded, spotted clothes.
Folks, I'm here to help but just be aware. You might just end up on my next edition of Stupid Human Laundry Tricks.