Get Playground Stains Out Fast!

As with just about everything, the best line of defense for laundry stains is to plan ahead, so pack hand wipes, water, and a stain remover along with the snacks and drinks in your bag. If you're caught off guard, don't worry. We've got the top five playground stains you're likely to encounter covered.

Fruit Juice Stains. Anyone who’s handed a juice box to a toddler knows how quickly fruit punch can dribble down a clean T-shirt. Blot the stain with water immediately, then pretreat with laundry detergent for 20 minutes when you get home. Wash in warm water. If stain remains, repeat steps before drying.

Dirt Stains. For ground-in dirt on knees, elbows, and bottoms, pretreat the smudges by pouring your favorite Tide liquid on top of the stain to cover and letting it set for 20 minutes. Wash in warm water, and toss in a stain-fighting booster in addition to your liquid detergent.

Ice Cream Stains. Use a napkin to brush away excess ice cream, sprinkles, or other toppings, then blot the stain with water from a water bottle or water fountain. At home, pretreat the stain with laundry detergent, letting it set for 20 minutes before washing in warm water.

Grass Stains. The natural pigments of grass make these stains particularly tough to clean. As soon as you get home, pretreat the stain with liquid detergent for 20 minutes, then wash in warm water. Repeat steps, if necessary, before drying.

Blood Stains. Blot stain with a tissue and water from a water bottle or water fountain. When you get home, soak the garment for 30 minutes in a plastic bucket filled with a gallon of cold water and about 2 tablespoons of your favorite laundry detergent. If needed, put a white towel on top of the garment to keep the stain submerged. Wash the clothing with a detergent designer for cold water and repeat steps, if needed, before drying.

How to Get Your Kids to Do Chores

Start early. Don’t wait until your kids are teenagers to ask them to pitch in. The earlier you foster these helpful habits, the more likely they will become second nature as your kids grow up.

Divvy duties by age. Toddlers love to help, so give them simple tasks like helping you put away toys or placing a newspaper in the recycling bin. Young kids can carry their dirty clothes to the hamper or put napkins on the dinner table. Pre-teens can help sort laundry, unpack groceries, and sweep. Teens can run the washer and dryer, rake the lawn, walk the dog, and take out the trash.

Put on a happy face. If you have little ones, sing a funny song during cleanup time or turn it into a silly game. It’ll make the “work” seem fun.

Don’t micromanage. Show your kids how you want things done, and let them take ownership of the job at hand. For example, let the child who’s in charge of laundry choose the scent of fabric softener that he or she likes best. And no matter what their age, be sure to praise your kids during and after their tasks.

Should you pay allowance? That’s up to you. It can help nurture a sense of fiscal responsibility. But there’s also a life lesson to be taught in helping out—just to help out. A compromise might be the best move. Some chores, like putting clothes in the laundry bin and loading dishes in the dishwasher, could just be expected of every member of the family team, while others, such as washing the car (or the dog), might merit an allowance.

Six Everyday Uses for Your Mateless Socks

It happens all the time. Socks go in the wash together and come out alone. Sometimes they reunite with their mates, and sometimes they are destined for a single life—that may sound bleak, but the truth is they can be quite useful on their own around the house. Here are six ways you can use those clean but mateless socks to enhance your everyday life.

1. Sock Bun
This cute hairstyle is simple and elegant, and can be achieved with a single sock! Cut the toe off a clean sock and roll up the remaining sock into a doughnut. Pull the tip of a ponytail through the center and tuck the ends around the sock. Then roll the sock gently up the length of the ponytail, making sure the hair is rolling with it, until you reach the scalp. Spread the rolled-up hair evenly around the sock so that none of the sock shows, and voila! Finish off with a spritz of hair spray.

2. Storing Holiday Cheer
Socks make excellent storage for holiday ornaments when you’re ready to take down the decorations at the end of the season. Wrapping those delicate baubles and curios in clean socks provides both padding and dust protection, so your favorite decorations can be just as shiny and festive when you take them out next year.

3. Pet Pals
There are a lot of things you can do with socks for the benefit of your furry friends. Stuff the base of a sock with some catnip and a jingle bell and tie off the top for an instant cat toy, or pop a tennis ball in a sock for a fun dog toy. Additionally, your used socks can provide comfort to pets when they are alone or scared, because they smell like you (especially if they’re not washed!). Put an old sock in a dog crate or cat carrier when heading to the vet or leave one on your pet’s bed when you are out during the day.

4. Clean Machine
Just like old shirts and other types of used fabrics, socks can make great cleaning cloths. Whether it’s dusting, waxing or polishing, a sturdy old sock gets the job done, all while fitting conveniently over your hand like a mitt. When you’re done, throw it in the washing machine and use a strong dirt-busting detergent.

5. Keep the Change
If you had a nickel for every nickel you rescued from a pocket before throwing clothes in the laundry, you’d have…a lot of pocket change! Stash your winnings in a spare sock while you’re doing the laundry to keep them safe. Pin it to the wall or keep it on a shelf. Count it up after a few loads and spend it on a new pair of socks! Or save it up for a rainy day.

6. Sock Puppets
Get the kids involved in this fun, creative way to make use of old or unmatched socks. You can also repurpose other abandoned household items like those buttons and appliqués you may have lying around. Using some glue or simple sewing techniques, you can create a cast of characters that will bring down the house!

Four Ways to Keep Sporting Gear Clean and Odor Free

Your New Year’s resolution to work out more may make “laundry day” a bit dirtier and stinkier…but that isn’t an excuse to break it! Here are a few tips that will keep your sporting gear fresh and clean while you get healthy in the New Year.

1. Fight sweat stains.
The classic, low-tech cotton tees may be the comfiest workout shirts. But they do tend to absorb sweat and may well show sweat stains. To combat this, turn your shirt inside out and pretreat the underarm areas with liquid detergent. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric with one use of detergent. Air-dry, and repeat the process if necessary.

2. Use special detergent.
Try using a detergent that’s specifically formulated to handle sportswear. Look for one that fights tough sport stains like grass, dirt, clay, and blood while also eliminating odor.

3. Don’t wait to wash.
Don’t leave your sportswear in a duffel bag after a workout or game. Since bacteria love to grow in moist places, you should make sure that your sportswear dries as quickly and efficiently as possible, even if you’re planning to wash it later. If it’s a sunny day, move equipment outside so that it dries faster.

4. Refresh your gym bag with dryer sheets.
Your gym bag can start to retain the odors of the workout gear you tote inside it. Stick a couple of dryer sheets in your bag for a quick and easy fix that will keep it smelling fresh.

Game On! What to Wear When “Couch-Gating” on Game Day

Professional athletes are famous for their pre-game quirks: They fly onto the turf like jets, get slapped in the face by their coaches, dance, jump, bump, yell at the ball. As a football fan, you’ll do anything to help your team win, right? Use the ideas below to create your own game-day rituals.

1. Lucky gear
Game jerseys are a must for home viewing, along with any fan-printed paraphernalia that can be worn on your body—and remember, brighten your ultimate fan uniform by washing it with a good laundry detergent.

2. Game-day grooming
Clean-shaven or stubbly, parted to the left or right, freshly showered or two days ripe—think back to your team’s last win, and copy that day’s steps exactly. Repeat for family members and regular game-time guests.

3. Tokens, doodads, and other juju boosters
Of course they help: bring on the rabbits’ feet, replica helmets, rally towels, game-day socks. Don’t forget to pump up with a pre-game fight song or a group chant, and of course, by outfitting the family pet in mascot-wear.

4. House rules
Maintaining order will keep the energy in your fan cave consistent, and that can only help the cause. Decide what that means in your household: assigned seats, remote-control management, timing of bathroom breaks, and limits on non-sports banter are a few essentials to work out.

5. Interlopers
Be wary of drop-ins; they can mess with the force. However, if your team scores in their presence, let them—no, make them—stay.

6. A reverse play
If, even with all your efforts, the team sputters, sack this game plan and start clean at the next kickoff.