10 Universal Laundry Problems And How To Overcome Them

10 Universal Laundry Problems And How To Overcome Them

Solving Laundry Problems - collage: dryer balls in a basket of towels; adding vinegar to washing machine; de-pilling a sweater; stretching a t-shirt

Solving Your Most Perplexing Laundry Problems

Trying to keep up with a never-ending mountain of laundry that needs to be washed and/or folded is enough of a challenge before you factor in the laundry problems that often make it even more vexing. From stains and odors to clothes that never seem to get as clean as you’d like them to, we all face laundry problems from time to time.

Luckily, this post is all about solutions to such dilemmas! You’ll find the simplest and most effective solutions to 10 common laundry problems below.

(And don’t forget to refer to the laundry care symbols on the tags of your clothes too—those instructions can help you avoid accidentally ruining them as you’re troubleshooting laundry problems!)

10 Common Laundry Problems And How To Solve Them

Solving Laundry Problems - spray bottle of homemade stain remover on top of laundry in a basket

1. Stubborn Stains

Since this is a list of laundry problems, it didn’t seem right for anything other than “stains” to appear in the top spot. When treating almost any stain, I reach for my ultimate DIY stain remover spray—it packs a punch against organic substances (including stains from food, grass, blood, and more) and makes stain removal quick and easy.

Since I use my ultimate stain remover spray so often, I included the recipe in my set of laundry recipe spray bottle labels. Not only does it make it obvious which of amber-colored spray bottles is for stain removal, but I always have the recipe handy when it’s time to make another batch! And my labels are currently 30% off during my Anniversary Sale!

Solving Laundry Problems - sprinkling baking soda on a sweat stain

2. Yellowing

I know yellowing and yellow stains are common laundry problems—the fact that my posts about eliminating yellow armpit stains and whitening yellow pillows have both been pinned millions of times on Pinterest leaves no doubt about that!

The most common culprit behind yellowed laundry is sweat and body oil. To more effectively break down these oily residues, make sure you’re using enough laundry detergent, wash in warm or hot water, or add a laundry detergent booster or fabric-safe bleach to the wash cycle. (If the affected item is white, try my miracle laundry whitening solution!)

Solving Laundry Problems - stack of bright white towels with a jar of homemade laundry detergent, bottle of bleach, box of borax, and box of dishwasher detergent powder

3. Dingy Clothes

If you’re dealing with dingy fabrics, I suggest following the same suggestions as I just mentioned for dealing with yellowing: use the right amount of a sufficiently powerful detergent, wash in how water, or try a detergent booster or bleach (chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach can help, depending on the fabric).

Dinginess may also be a symptom of dye transfer or hard water. If dye transfer is the issue, adding DIY color catchers to your wash loads can help prevent it in the future. If you have hard water and suspect that’s the problem, adding 1/2 cup of borax (a natural water softener) to your wash loads.

(Dealing with dress shirts affected by “ring around the collar”? This is the best way to remove ring around the collar stains.)

Solving Laundry Problems - stack of towels with bottle of white vinegar and box of baking soda

4. Odors

No one likes smelly clothes and linens, but laundry odors are surprisingly common! If you’re dealing with towels that have developed an unpleasant mildew smell, learn how to fix smelly towels with the help of vinegar and baking soda.

(The same fix for towels can help address deodorant buildup in the armpits of shirts as well!)

Solving Laundry Problems - canister of homemade laundry detergent

5. Detergent Residue

If you’re dealing with laundry detergent residue clinging to your clothes, there are a couple of possible reasons why. The most common cause of detergent residue buildup is “detergent overdose” (AKA using too much detergent), but it can also be caused by undissolved laundry powder.

To get around this, try pre-dissolving powdered detergents or boosters in hot water before adding them to your washer.

Related: The One Huge Laundry Mistake You Think Is No Big Deal

Solving Laundry Problems - dryer balls on a basket of clean towels

6. Static Cling

While store-bought dryer sheets can help cut down on static cling, they do so by rubbing chemical softeners onto fabrics that can build up into a stubborn residue over time. I prefer using dryer balls instead for that reason, which not only reduce drying time and soften fabrics, but also help to prevent static cling because they absorb some of the moisture coming off your clothes and keep your dryer more humid.

“I purchased my first dryer balls from Jillee and I love [them]. The balls are slightly firmer, and the colors make spotting them easier in the drier and on the floor. Living in Colorado we have so much static in the air, and these balls greatly reduce the static electricity from my laundry. These are extremely high quality dryer balls and will last for years.”

Marcie J.

If you continue to experience static cling while using dryer balls, here are a couple of tips that can help:

  • Get Them Wet Before Use. Get one or two of your dryer balls wet (but not soggy or completely saturated) before starting your dryer.
  • Add A Couple Safety Pins. Here’s a science-y solution: attach a safety pin or two to your dryer balls. Safety pins will attract the extra electrons that can cause static cling and discharge them as the pin makes contact with the dryer drum.

My set of 6 colorful wool dryer balls is currently 30% off during my Anniversary Sale so it’s a great time to grab a set for yourself and a friend! Or grab my Laundry Kit that comes with a set of dryer balls and a bottle of Freshly Washed Essential Oil Blend for 41% off. I think it would make an especially great Mother’s Day gift!


Solving Laundry Problems - pulling a dirty lint filter from a dryer

7. Lint

A certain amount of lint is to be expected when doing laundry, but some fabrics give of more lint than others. You can reduce the amount of lint transfer by washing lint-producing items separately, with similar fabrics, or with items of a similar color.

Other causes of lint can include clogged lint traps and tissues or paper left in pants pockets. Clean lint traps regularly and check all pockets before starting your washer.

Related: These Simple Dryer Tips Can Help Prevent A Fire

Solving Laundry Problems - using a de-piller on a sweater

8. Pilling

To help prevent pilling, try turning your clothes inside out before washing them. Pilling is caused by friction in the washer and dryer, so protecting the outside of your clothes can help prevent some of that friction.

To eliminate pills that have already formed, check out the tips in mypost about rehabilitating pilled sweaters.

Solving Laundry Problems - stretching a t-shirt

9. Shrinking

Learning how to unshrink clothes has been a real game-changer for me, but it doesn’t work on all fabrics. Avoid shrinkage by following the care instructions the labels of your clothes and linens, or by taking your laundry out of the dryer while it is still a bit damp.

Solving Laundry Problems - pouring white vinegar into washing machine tray

10. Fading

It’s impossible to prevent colors from fading entirely since it’s part of normal wear and tear, but there are a couple of ways to minimize protect the color of your clothing. When you wash new clothes for the first time, adding a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle can help set the dye in the fibers and prevent it from bleeding as much.

Heat can also contribute to fading, so be sure to wash dark clothing in cold water and dry it on a low heat setting (or hang it to dry). For more tips, see my post on preventing color fading in the wash.

What’s your most vexing laundry problem?

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