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Laundry Hacks for Removing Odors, Fluffing Towels, and Never Losing a Sock Again

Is it laundry day… again? The answer — at least, in my house — is always yes. Between gym clothes, work clothes, pajamas, and “couch clothes,” doing the laundry gets high marks for futility. Still, it must be done. There are a few ways, however, to make it slightly less annoying and even, dare I say, rewarding. (The reward being the effective removal of stubborn stains and lingering odors, and finding a way to never lose a single sock.) Who doesn’t love a smart life hack? Below are the laundry tips that have helped me optimize this necessary task. The best part: household staples that you already have in your pantry — things like white vinegar, aluminum foil, and baking soda — do most of the heavy lifting.

To Never Lose Socks: Lingerie Bags

To prevent socks from mysteriously vanishing in the wash, pin a large mesh lingerie bag to the side of your hamper so you can easily toss dirty socks inside every day. When it’s time to do the laundry, unpin the bag, zip it closed, and throw it in the washer with the rest of the load. The porous bag will allow the socks to get clean while keeping them together.

To Un-Shrink Clothes: Baby Shampoo

Accidentally put your favorite sweater in the wash, shrinking it by multiple sizes!? Don’t pass it on to your five-year-old niece just yet. Fashion designer Jason Lim of has the fix: “Fill a sink with lukewarm water, add a capful of baby shampoo and soak the sweater in the mix for 20 minutes — this will help relax the fibers.” From here, simply stretch the sweater on a flat surface until it’s back to its original shape, and allow it to air-dry flat.

To Lift Lingering Odors: Baking Soda

To remove stubborn smells from clothes or bedding, grab baking soda. “Unlike detergents that only mask the smell, baking soda neutralizes odor-causing chemicals on fabrics,” says home expert David Cusick, editor at His alternative advice? “Mix ½ cup of baking soda in water and pour over dry items in the washer. Let sit overnight, then run a regular cycle on the machine in the a.m. Your fabric will come out smelling like new!”

To Soften Sheets: Aluminum Foil

“Dryer balls agitate fabric fibers, so sheets come out soft,” says Melissa Maker, author of Clean My Space (Buy from Amazon, $18.76). To make your own for free, ball up some foil. It works the same as a dryer ball, with the added benefit of preventing static cling.

To Guarantee Fluffy Towels: White Vinegar

Sure, fabric softener makes your towels fluffy and soft, but it also contains oils that can make the fabric less absorbent. The remedy? Add ½ cup of white vinegar to your laundry’s rinse cycle or to the fabric softener tray instead, suggests Natalie Barrett, supervisor for Nifty Cleaning Services. “The vinegar helps break down buildup, making the towels fluffy and absorbent once again,” she says.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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