Laundry Helpers

‘Tis the season for TONS OF LAUNDRY at our house. There’s so much clothes: going-to-school outfits, sports practice stuff, hang-dry-only game day jerseys, homecoming formal wear, and everything in between. So here are some items that help us with all of it.

Okay, my big, crazy revelation these days? These laundry balls.

This was totally a case of me getting sucked in by a Facebook ad. Except then I didn’t buy from the company that sponsored the post, but it sent me on a quest to find a similar product, and this is what I got. Basically, this is what you use instead of any detergent at all. These balls contain ceramic beads that increase the pH level of the water and kill off whatever is yucky in your clothes. I don’t know, y’all, it’s science-y stuff. But the reviews were killer, and the idea is that it’s environmentally friendly with less waste (of both detergent and the containers; yes these are plastic, but they’re supposed to be good for 1500 loads). Since it’s not a bunch of chemicals, it’s hypo-allergenic and better for wear and tear on clothes.

These absolutely work as well as other detergents I’ve used, and I’ve tried a whole bunch of brands (Tide and Oxiclean have been my go-tos, with special orders of Vapor Fresh for the especially stinky sports stuff, and occasional soaks of vinegar and/or baking soda in particularly ugly situations). That said, none of these, including the balls, have always worked perfectly the first time when it comes to really smelly sports gear. That said, if there are some extra-stinky armpits, I might rub in a bit of detergent in the spot, just like I’ll sometimes rub some in for a stain.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while this (mostly) neutralizes odors, it doesn’t add any scent. If you love unscented/hypo-allergenic, then this is awesome for you. If you prefer something to be “April Fresh” (or whatever), you’ll want to use a fabric softener or something else. Even with some pre-treating or fabric softener use here and there, I’ve really dropped my laundry product consumption since acquiring these babies.

Another game changer at our house? These shoe dryers.

These are a purchase we’ve used for a while now, and they are awesome. Pop them into your kids’ wet cleats (or sweaty sneakers or snow boots or whatever), then plug them in to do some gentle warming from inside. These will make shoes toasty overnight, so we’ll take them along, for example, to soccer tournaments. We have these hanging on a hook next to our main shoe closet, so the girls can pop them in. One drawback? It has a tendency to smell a bit like you’re cooking up Smelly Sneaker Soup. One way to mitigate this issue is to wrap the heater in a dryer sheet (like I have, above). Or you can keep these out in the garage.

In addition to keeping up with sports practices, we’ve also got homecoming next week, which reminds me of another laundry-related gadget we’ve been loving lately, a handheld garmet steamer. I bought this last spring because M’s prom dress seemed pretty susceptible to wrinkling. Wait, I never showed y’all the dress, did I? Here it is:

Ah, lovely. And not wrinkled. So it fixed that challenge, but since acquiring that little steamer, we’ve loving it for any old job. Here’s a before-and-after of a blouse of mine:

This is super easy to use. You pour a little distilled water in the steamer, plug it in, and wait for 3 or 4 minutes until it starts to steam. Then the magic happens. And it does feel quite magically satisfying. It’s easier on your clothes than ironing, plus there isn’t the risk of burning or accidentally adding wrinkles to the fabric. The girls like it better than ironing, which means they’ll do it themselves instead of asking me for help.

And, of course, if you need clothesline advice, I learned from the best.


  1. Claire

    I had read about those laundry balls, so it’s great to get a firsthand endorsement. I’ll have to give them a try.

  2. Big Sister

    Wow! So many great tips! I am always looking for anti-stink solutions. Love those shoe dryers. One thing to note is that you should not use fabric softener of any kind with synthetic athletic apparel that has wicking properties (pretty much all). It clogs up the works and will cause odor to stay with the fabric.

  3. I actually think that fabric softener tip is what got me started rethinking the whole detergent thing, too. But the girls’ sports uniforms are all borrowed for the season, so you have no idea what people have already done to it (except, of course, for the stains no one could get out — and yes, it’s a little yuck).

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