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Lightening Your Laundry Load

Be a stain buster. To stand a chance against spaghetti sauce and ketchup blobs, you need to apply stain remover ASAP. So keep a spray bottle or gel stick where your kid most often strips down.

Forgive your forgetfulness. After two days in your washing machine, wet laundry smells like wet dog. You don't have to rewash it: Just add a cup of white vinegar and set the washer to the rinse cycle.

Safeguard socks. To cut down on lost socks and the futile task of matching clean ones, have each family member stick his or her dirty socks in a mesh bag so they stay together.

Pump less iron. Got to the dryer way after the buzzer to find a cold, rumpled mess? Add a clean, wet bath towel to the load and tumble for ten minutes to smooth away the worst wrinkles.

Minimize mix-ups. To remember which shirt belongs to which child: Use a marker to add dots to clothing tags  -- one dot for your oldest child, two dots for the second, etc. When a shirt gets passed down, just add another dot.

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