Storing Linen in the Freezer and 6 Other Bizarre Laundry Hacks Debunked
Laundry is just one of those household chores we have to deal with. As a result, many of us look for ways to cut down on the amount of time and effort we spend cleaning our clothes and sheets. While some actually do wonders, there are plenty of others that are simply old wives' tales, which are not only a waste of time but can also be causing damage to your goods.
From storing your linen sheets in the freezer (insane, right?) to adding brewed coffee to your washing machine's rinse water, we've debunked the biggest laundry you need to stop believing.
7 Biggest Laundry Myths Debunked
1. More detergent equals cleaner clothes
It makes sense to think the more detergent you use, the fresher smelling and cleaner your sheets will be, right? Well, the term ‘less is more’ definitely applies to laundry detergent. The reality is that using too much detergent actually creates excessive suds that redeposit soil back onto your laundry.
Try using half as much detergent as recommended by the measuring lines on the product’s cap and see if you’re happy with the end result. If you’re unsatisfied, you can always add more next time but you can never reverse what you’ve already put in. Plus, by using less detergent, you’ll also be saving money! It’s really a win-win situation.
2. Store your linens in the freezer
Yes, you read that correctly — linens are stored in the same freezer right next to your tubs of ice cream. Why? Apparently doing so helps to eliminate bacteria, make ironing easier, prevent mildew from forming and as a trick to cool sheets down for a night of sweat-free sleep.
But is this a myth or a genius linen hack?
According to Registered Nurse and Naturopath, Madeline Calfas, it’s probably an unnecessary step.
“There is ultimately nothing that a freezer linen press can offer that you can’t get from any other form of storage and washing,” she tells Bed Threads Journal.
“From a pathogen perspective, bacteria, mould, fungus and other little critters are temperature sensitive. They can’t survive in freezing temperatures, so most definitely keeping your linen in the freezer can help eliminate them. Of course, so can washing them in hot water and air drying in the sun.” The key is to simply wash your sheets regularly — once a week, in fact.
Emma Rosham and Michelle Rubin, founders of professional organisational company TIDEE, agree: “To kill bacteria, you typically have to reach about 80 degrees below freezing and since freezers don’t reach those temperatures, it’s not going to replace the good old fashioned washing machine.”
When it comes to ironing, freezing your lines can definitely help make ironing easier, however, the biggest catch is that you need to ensure your sheets are thoroughly dry as a bone before they go into the freezer, Calfas notes.
“If they’re not dry, you'll find your sheets may very well be frozen, and once the iron thaws the ice, you’ll be left with damp sheets. You also need to make sure you store them in the freezer folded as neatly as possible and not just scrunched up," Calfas explains.
"Perhaps the only real bonus to freezing your linen is to cool you down on a hot night. Just remember that the sheets will need to be put on your bed just before you jump in, so as long as you’re ok with a quick bed-sheet change, then go for it."
However, you also have to consider the logistics of this, too.
“Who even has a freezer big enough to store sheets?” Rosham and Rubi question. “The idea of putting your sheets in a very cold place in preparation for a sweat-free sleep certainly has some merit (especially on a hot night) but the thought of storing your sheets in the same space as your frozen peas just doesn’t seem right.”
Bottom line: “Caring for your linen requires some effort and this means washing, drying and storing it correctly so it lasts the distance,” Rosham and Rubi conclude. “We’re all for shortcuts if they work and save you time, but putting your linen in the freezer is a big no from us.”
3. Treat all stains from the front
It can be tempting to persistently rub a stain only to realise shortly after that you’ve damaged the material. What you want to do is tackle the stain from the back — doing this will push the stain out of the fabric fibres as opposed to rubbing it in deeper.
When it comes to linen, it's best to try and remove any stains as soon as possible. You can do this by soaking your sheets or dabbing the stained area with cold water and baking soda.
4. Hot water will kill all germs
Unfortunately, it isn’t guaranteed that using hot water alone will kill all germs and bacteria.
Thankfully, when it comes to linen, the fabric has antibacterial properties so it’s safe to wash them in cool water with minimal harsh detergents without compromising on cleanliness.
5. Coffee in rinse water keeps clothes black
Yes, just like people storing their linens in the freezer, this one is certainly at the top of the list of ‘strangest laundry myths to date’. Rumour has it, pouring a cup of brewed coffee into your rinse water can help keep your black clothes, well, black.
The theory is that coffee acts as a natural dye, which will strengthen and enhance a garment’s black dye. In reality, one cup of coffee in a large rinse cycle would be very diluted so it probably won’t work — you’ll need a washer-full of expression to actually make a difference. Plus, it may actually do more harm than good. Yeah, you’re definitely better off drinking that coffee.
6. Fabric softener is always necessary
A fabric softener can do wonders for some fabrics but it’s certainly not always necessary and can actually become problematic for certain materials.
For example, linen doesn’t actually need any softeners to make it buttery soft — with every wash, your linens should naturally become softer and more absorbent. Traditional fabric softeners may contain chemicals that leave residue on the line once washed, so it’s best advised to stick to a gentle detergent or your basic baking soda. Here’s a guide on how to soften your linens, sans any chemical softeners.
7. Hairspray removes ink stains
This myth dates back to the 1950s when hairspray was once loaded with alcohol, which is a key ingredient that works to remove ink stains. However, hairsprays these days contain lower levels of alcohol or are even alcohol-free since manufacturers and consumers have come to realise alcohol only dries out your hair.
It’s probably best to use the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet and a paper towel to absorb a wet ink stain.