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    What Is Cottagecore? A Closer Look at the Dreamy Aesthetic Taking Over the Internet

    Our homes should be our personal sanctuaries — and the last year made this abundantly clear. As a result, some of us turned closets into office hideouts (aptly named “cloffices”), transformed garages into home gyms and finally checked major renovations off of our bucket lists. At the heart of these transformations — from minor DIYs to big rebuilds — is the very idea that our homes should be a safe, cozy and inviting space that provides a respite from the outside world. There’s no finer example of this feeling — aesthetic, rather — than cottagecore, where the ease of rural life is brought to life with fresh florals, botanical accents and vintage-inspired decor. Social media gave this blossoming movement a major platform: To date, there have been 1.6 million posts tagged with #cottagecore on Instagram and videos with the same tag have racked up 5.8 billion views on TikTok. Together, these photos and videos provide a space to breathe — TikTok user Lillies Apothecary shares recipes for cinnamon coffee cake and lavender lemonade, TikTok user Jesca Her shows the life she sees “through rose-colored glasses” and thousands more reveal how they cozy up their bedrooms with green ivy and twinkle lights. What exactly is cottagecore? Aesthetically speaking, cottagecore embraces the charm of the English countryside (hence its name), creating an idealized representation of farm life — no matter where in the world you may live. The cottagecore style extends far beyond home decor; it’s inspired an overall state of being, oftentimes expressed through flowy clothing (we introduce you to The Nap Dress) and whimsical housewares.
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    Really, it’s a way to to escape our modern lives and romanticize timeless simplicities: tending the garden, sipping on a hot cup of tea, perfecting a sourdough starter, foraging mushrooms in the forest and other seemingly mundane activities that force people to take a pause. Sometimes called farmcore or countrycore, this popular aesthetic also taps into the natural beauty of pastoral life, everything from freshly-laid eggs to sprawling vegetable gardens.Although cottagecore has taken off in the last year in part due to the pandemic and the popularity of video games like Minecraft and Animal Crossing, it’s not a new trend by any means. For Noemie Sérieux, founder of the Instagram account CottagecoreBlackFolks, it serves as reminder of her upbringing in St. Lucia. “Drying clothes in the breeze, chasing chickens and climbing coconut trees were all a part of my childhood. When the trend came to life, it felt more like nostalgia to me than a shiny new trend,” she told Good Housekeeping. The same can be said for other aesthetic movements that have popped up in recent years: Grandmacore and fairycore, also made popular on TikTok, have created nostalgia-induced worlds of their own, offering a place to escape technology and the constant need for connectivity. As a result, there’s now a massive online community made up of people who lean into this picture-perfect pastoral fantasy, one that Sérieux describes as “bright and vibrant.”How can I bring the cottagecore aesthetic into my house?Styles may range from person to person (or house to house), but the cottagecore aesthetic has several constants: Along with a neutral color palette (whites, creams and warm tones), key decor pieces include dried flower bouquets, houseplants, mushroom trinkets and string lights. Everything — both the fashion and home decor — has a vintage look and feel, ranging from ruffled peasant dresses to floral ceramic dishware sets.
    This content is imported from TikTok. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

    To really nail the homegrown aesthetic, you may have to put your crafting, gardening and baking skills to use, as pointed out in Emily Kent’s The Little Book of Cottagecore. So, if you’re looking to stop and smell the roses, break out your embroidery kits, knitting needles, pie weights and herb garden kits, stat.

    The Ultimate Cottagecore House Starter Kit

    Botanical Duvet Cover Set

    Wake In Cloud


    $52.99 (41% off)

    Beeswax Taper Candles



    Artificial Ivy Vine



    Dried Flowers in Vase



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    A Foolproof Guide to Sustainable Living

    If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint and living a more sustainable life, there are countless things you can do to have a positive impact on the planet. One strategy is simply to buy less. And while that’s realistic in some cases, the other side of it is making sure you’re purchasing sustainable products and supporting sustainable brands that are committed to doing the least amount of environmental damage. But beyond taking a close look at the stores you shop at and the products you buy, the good news is virtually everything you do in your daily life is an opportunity to practice sustainable living, including the way you get around, the charities you support, how you eat, what you eat, how much garbage you create and so much more. It’s easy to start leading a more sustainable lifestyle right now — and our environmental experts are here to help. At the Good Housekeeping Institute, sustainability is important to everything we do and we’ve built a unique expertise on the topic that shows up in how our experts test and recommend products. From launching the Green Good Housekeeping Seal in 2009 and GH’s Sustainable Innovation Awards in 2019, to hosting our annual Raise the Green Bar sustainability summit, now entering its fifth year, helping readers make more sustainable choices is a top priority for us. Below, we’ve compiled some simple choices and changes you can start today that will have a lasting benefit to our planet.First: What is sustainable living?Living a more sustainable life, also commonly referred to as “green living,” starts with understanding that sustainability is a broad term that can be defined in many ways. But generally speaking sustainable living refers to a lifestyle that avoids depleting the earth’s natural resources by reducing demand for water, energy, trees and fossil fuels. It means striving to create less waste, and prioritizes the use of renewable resources and minimal consumption. It can also be defined as “the practice of making sure we don’t deplete the earth’s natural resources while maintaining a strong economy for future generations,” says GH’s Sustainability Director, Birnur Aral, Ph.D. Put another way, sustainable living is all about making healthier choices for our planet and the people who live here. Examples of sustainable living include buying products made from recycled materials, avoiding fast fashion, and making sure your home isn’t overusing water and energy. There’s also a growing connection between social good and environmental sustainability and many organizations are increasingly tying together traditional sustainability efforts with mission-based work centered around a specific problem or issue. History of sustainabilityToday’s sustainable living advocates often cite the seminal 1962 book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist, naturalist and environmentalist, for rousing modern-day interest in sustainability. The book explored the adverse effects of fertilizers and pesticides on wildlife and challenged the practice of unchecked marketing claims by large corporations. It is largely credited with inspiring a 20th-century environmental movement that contributed to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. In the early 1980s, the United Nations formed the World Commission on Environment and Development with the goal of “uniting countries to work together to pursue sustainable development.” It released Our Common Future in 1987, a report which succeeded in popularizing the notion of sustainable living with the public, and local and state governments around the world started introducing sustainability policies focused on recycling and renewable energies. In 2015, the UN also spearheaded the Paris Agreement, a legally binding treaty between global leaders aimed at reducing climate change. The U.S. left the Paris Agreement during the Trump administration but has rejoined under President Biden. Today the United Nations continues to champion sustainability through its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability is now a guiding principle for a wide range of governmental agencies, corporations and other institutions.Why is sustainable living important?Living a more sustainable life is better for the health of the planet and all the living things that inhabit it, including humans. A sustainable lifestyle can mean less pollution, fewer greenhouse gases, less waste, healthier oceans and forests and so much more. Plus, as more people make the switch to sustainable living, more companies work harder to following sustainable practices during manufacturing and more policy makers advocate for improved environmental practices. The bottom line: Sustainable living is about doing whatever you can to reduce your personal contribution to carbon emissions, natural resource depletion, water and chemical use and waste accumulation, while striving to make the earth a better place for all living things.Simple ways to start living a more sustainable lifestyle1. Start small — but start now.One of the most important things to remember as you are transitioning into more sustainable living is little changes add up. And they can add up fast. So don’t feel you have to overhaul everything all at once. Start with easy tweaks like switching to energy-saving light bulbs or drinking tap water instead of bottled (our environmental experts have assessed a wide range of water-testing kits to help boost your confidence), buying less overall, and being conscious about how you dispose of goods, from mattresses to clothing and beyond.Check out the stories below for more ways to make daily efforts to live a sustainable lifestyle:

    Everyday Tricks to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

    Read More

    How to Shop for ‘Eco-Friendly’ Products

    Read More

    How to Dispose of Practically Anything

    Read More

    How (and Where) to Donate and Upcycle Clothing


    2. Get savvy about spotting greenwashing.

    A recent survey revealed how confusing “eco” or “green” claims can be.

    Even today, as people are more interested in sustainable living tips, “eco” or “green” claims can be confusing. When we put the question to over 5,000 people in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s recent Sustainability Survey, 26% of people said they believed “green” meant “earth or environmentally friendly,” 19% answered “reusable, recyclable or recycled,” 13% said “eco-conscious” and 10% thought it meant “sustainable.” Other write-in answers included: natural, organic, compostable, plant-based and healthy. In reality, all of these things might contribute to making a product more “green” or “sustainable,” but according to the FTC Green Guides, brands must explain why a product is green before they can legitimately use eco-friendly claims on their labels. Once you can easily ID the terms and claims – and spot the imposters – you will be better equipped to make truly sustainable choices.

    Learn the Real Meaning of ‘Eco-Friendly’


    Understand the Dangers of ‘Greenwashing’

    Read more

    How to Decode Every Recycling Symbol

    Read More

    Get the Truth on the ‘Clean’ Beauty Trend

    READ More

    Learn What ‘Organic’ Actually Means

    Read More

    3. Rethink your modes of transportation.Walking, taking the stairs and riding a commuter bicycle are some of the easiest ways to get around more sustainably. That’s because they require no energy (other than your own!) and emit absolutely zero greenhouse gases while helping to boost your own cardiovascular health. Driving a combustion-engine vehicle, on the other hand, is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. If distance puts walking or riding a bike out of the question, public transportation or car-sharing are good alternatives along with e-bikes and scooters. If you don’t have your own bike, consider the growing number of rent-a-bike services popping up in more neighborhoods all over the country. If that’s not an option for you, fortunately, most car manufacturers are making bold predictions about adding electric and hybrid vehicles to their rosters. Check out our scientists and consumer tester favorites below for the best electric vehicles, the best hybrid cars and the best e-bikes:

    How to make more sustainable choices when shopping1. Ditch single-use bags and bottles.One of the biggest contributors to the global waste epidemic is plastic pollution. When you consider that Our World in Data estimates 381 million tons of plastic was produced in 2015, it’s no surprise that this amount — the equivalent to roughly two-thirds of the world population — is wreaking havoc on the health of global wildlife and our planet’s oceans and marine life.The good news news reusable is becoming a much more common personal choice and is also being mandated by municipalities around the globe through plastic bag bans and more. Below, discover our top-tested favorites, from reusable products from grocery bags to water bottles and more, as well as easy ways to reduce waste at home:

    Swap Plastic Grocery Bags for Reusable Ones


    Bring Your Own Produce Bags to the Store


    Skip Single-Use Bottles and Take Your Own


    Get a Reusable Mug for the Coffee Shop


    2. Learn about ethical fashion.While the fashion industry has been the target of intense scrutiny by sustainability advocates, examples of sustainable living can be found. It’s important to remember truly sustainable fashion (also called “ethical” or “slow” fashion) takes into account an item’s full life cycle, including sourcing, shipping and end of life, as well as the people and resources it affects. That said, our pros suggest buying secondhand whenever possible (and selling your unwanted clothes online). Since the ultimate goal is to produce less and use things longer, the most sustainable fashion is anything pre-owned. 3. Buy from truly sustainable brands and companies.”Corporate sustainability is thought to have three pillars: people, planet and profit,” says Aral. “For any business, this means ensuring the health of employees (and people related to that business) and minimizing or even reversing its environmental impacts should be just as important as turning a profit, for it to be sustainable in the long run.” So do your research when seeking out products and brands that are committed to sustainable practice by looking for brands that promote specific sustainable practices including reducing water and hazardous chemicals used in production or use of recycled materials or sustainable fibers such as organic cotton. You can also look for sustainable and recycled materials, and trusted third-party emblems like EcoCert Cosmos for organic cosmetics, Fair Trade Certified ingredients or GreenGuard Certified products.Brands that impress GH Textiles Lab analysts include Patagonia, Levi’s, ThredUp and Eileen Fisher. For help with choosing sustainable brands, follow our experts’ advice below:

    Sustainable Fashion Brands You Can Actually Trust


    The Best Sustainable Denim Brands to Try


    Why You Should Look for Tencel Fabric


    4. Shop organic when you can.Opting for organic clothing and bedding is a great step toward sustainability. Why? “GOTS certified organic fabrics follow strict environmental standards throughout the entire production process,” according to GH Institute Textiles Director Lexie Sachs. “For starters, organic cotton and other natural fibers are grown using less water and without pesticides and other potentially harmful treatments. Then the rest of the manufacturing steps – from the dyes and finishes to the ethical conditions at factories – must also comply with specific criteria.”Here are some of the best organic products you can buy, vetted by our experts:

    5. Look for sustainable packaging.Packaging is generally defined as the products used to wrap or protect goods, including food and drink, and home and personal care items. It covers everything from culinary containers and detergent bottles to packaging for beauty products and all those delivery boxes. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, over 80 million tons of packaging waste ends up in U.S. landfills every year. In Europe packaging waste is estimated at 77.8 million tons annually.

    Choosing sustainable packaging is one way to offset the massive waste in landfills. But sustainable packaging can also help the planet in other, less expected ways. For example a moisturizer that uses less packaging is lighter to transport, which means fewer greenhouse gases are released on its journey from the manufacturing facility to its final destination in your bathroom. That’s also why the experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute introduced our Sustainable Packaging and Sustainable Innovation Awards, which recognize products that use minimal packaging materials and practices.

    How to Spot and Use Eco-Friendly Packaging


    Learn About GH’s Sustainable Innovation Awards


    More on GH’s Sustainable Packaging Awards


    How to live more sustainably at home1. Make your own cleaners and home products.While you can purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products, making things from scratch at home is a perfect example of sustainable living. It allows you to use things you already have on-hand, thus reducing the need to buy more. And it means you can re-use or upcycle other items to give them new life — which all leads to less trash and waste, less packaging and less overall consumption. And you don’t have to stop at cleaners — our scientists and cleaning and beauty experts have great step-by-step instructions to help DIYers to make everything from homemade soap to hair masks and body scrubs:

    How to Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners


    Learn to Make Your Own Beeswax Food Wraps


    2. Green your plate and your kitchen.Did you know animal agriculture is the second-largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and is a leading cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss and water pollution? These statistics shared by Climate Nexus citing multiple trusted research sources, including the United Nations, help support the value of making more sustainable food practices.In their session “Greener Plates for a Better World” at Good Housekeeping’s 2020 Raise the Green Bar Sustainability Summit, celebrated author and actress Tracy Pollan, food columnist Mark Bittman and regional farming advocate Kathleen Finlay spoke with GH’s Registered Dietitian, Stefani Sassos, M.S., R.D., about the topic. Together they stressed that plant-based eating, cooking at home and prioritizing local and seasonal foods were smart ways to eat more sustainably.

    Eating vegetarian just one day a week can save the annual greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 1,160 miles, says Sassos. She also recommends peanuts as a great plant-based protein source. A nutritious swap for meat, these legumes are filled with protein, heart-healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants. Lesser-known fact: They’re as good for the planet as for you, thanks to water-efficient growing practices that use a mere five gallons of H2O per ounce (some nuts need more than 15 times that and meat needs!).

    3. Reduce food waste.In the United States alone, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration estimated that between 30 to 40% of the food supply ends up as food waste. In 2015, we Americans threw out 133 billion pounds of food. For context that’s like leaving a quarter of your groceries behind every time you go to the store.

    Composting at home is one of the most effective ways to minimize the amount of garbage your family sends to the landfill. Not only does this reduce methane gas (a major factor in climate change), but it also controls trash can odor and gives you rich fertilizer. You can start by picking up one of the GH Institute Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab’s picks for the best compost bins, but if at-home composting isn’t for you, look to see if your municipality has a composting program; if not, let your public works department know you’d like one. Some farmers’ markets even take food matter for composting.Below our GH Test Kitchen and GH Institute Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab compiled some great ways to reduce food waste:

    Clever Ways to Use Overripe Produce


    A Beginner’s Guide to Composting at Home

    READ MORE More

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    Here's Exactly How to Fold a Fitted Sheet, According to Marie Kondo

    There are few household chores more notoriously frustrating than folding a fitted sheet. The elastic band and billowy corners on these bad boys make them ridiculously difficult to corral and fold neatly, and often, we end up just crumpling them up into a ball and shoving them to the back of our linen closets. Sigh. Thankfully, organizational guru Marie Kondo (you know her as the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the star of Netflix’s hit show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo) stopped by to show us the best way to overcome this all-too-common laundry struggle: With her KonMari Method, folding a fitted sheet is as easy as following these five simple steps.Step 1: Set up your fitted-sheet folding workspace. Lay out the fitted sheet on a completely flat surface, elastic band facing up.Step 2: Make the first folds.

    Fold the sheet in thirds lengthwise by bringing one long side in across the center, then the other. This step should leave you with a long, narrow rectangle. Step 3: Fold the fitted sheet again.

    This time, fold the rectangle in half widthwise.Step 4: Roll the fitted sheet up.

    Roll the fitted sheet from one short side to the other until it forms into a nice compact cylinder shape.Step 5: Store the fitted sheet the right way.Store your fitted sheet upright, in a storage container or linen closet, alongside your other bedding.

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    How to Fold a Fitted Sheet, According to Bedding Experts

    If you struggle with folding a fitted sheet, you’re not alone: It’s one of the most common “how to” chores we get asked about in the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab. While it may seem quickest to roll it up, neatly folding your sheet only takes seconds and will help keep you organized and your bed looking wrinkle-free.Our fiber scientists have tested hundreds of bed sheets over the past few years, which means we have to fold fitted sheets over and over (and over) again to keep our Lab tidy. The all-around elastic edges certainly make it trickier than folding a flat sheet, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back to rolling it in a ball.Here we share our five simple steps to neatly fold a fitted sheet with elastic all around in under 60 seconds. All you’ll need is your fitted sheet and a flat surface (like a table, a counter or your bed). Pro tip: We recommend folding your sheet right after it comes out of the dryer to avoid creases that form when it sits crumpled up.Step 1: Hold the sheet

    Place your hands in the corners with the long side of the sheet going across your body and the top side of the fabric facing you.Step 2: Tuck the corners

    Take one corner in your hand and tuck it into the other. Repeat the tuck on the opposite side. Now your sheet is folded in half.Step 3: Repeat the tuck

    With your hands in the corners again, repeat the tuck one more time so that all four corners are now folded into each other.Step 4: Lay the sheet down

    Place the sheet on a flat surface like a table, countertop, or bed. You should see a C-shape in the fabric. Step 5: Fold in thirds

    Fold the edges from the outside in, smoothing the fabric as you go. Fold in thirds again from the other direction. Flip it over, and you’re done!

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    How to Do Laundry: A Step-by-Step Guide on the Right Way to Sort, Wash and Dry

    Somewhere along the way, someone taught you how to do laundry. In the time since, washing machines and dryers have evolved, the laundry detergent market has grown exponentially (It’s expected to top $223 billion by 2028, per a recent study by Polaris Market Research.) and a global health crisis challenged tried-and-true cleaning methods. As a result, searches for “laundry” reached an all-time high in January 2021, according to Google Trends. Some people questioned their laundry habits (How often should I wash my clothes?) while others simply wondered if those viral laundry stripping videos — you know the ones — were really worth the hype. Even if laundry is your most dreaded household chore, there’s no way around it: Your clothes, towels and bedding will continue to pile up until you clean them. Because of this, the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab is always on the hunt for ways to make laundry day less of a chore, routinely testing essential products like washers, dryers and detergents, to find the best ones for every need and budget. With decades of testing and expertise under their belts, our cleaning experts have determined the steps you should take to effectively clean and dry your garments, no matter the type of machinery, fibers or amount of time you’re working with.

    Danielle Occhiogrosso Daly

    Read care and fiber labels.First things first, look at the care and fiber labels, often located on the side seams, back neck or back waist of garments. Together, these little labels tell you everything you need to know about your garment, including the fibers it’s made out of along with recommended washing and drying techniques. Instructions are often spelled out, but sometimes labels are just a list of laundry symbols. In this case, follow this guide on how to decode laundry symbols:

    Mariana Tuma/

    Every now and again, you might not have labels to turn to, like if you cut it off prematurely or the writing has been worn away from repeated wear. If you don’t have a label to use as your guide, start with the most delicate washing and drying method to ensure that you don’t ruin your garments. But if you feel it’s safe to take things one step further, follow these guidelines that align with the specific fiber that you’re working with.Cotton: hot, warm or cool water; high, regular or low dryer temperature.Linen: cool or warm water; tumble dry low or air dry.Nylon: cool or warm water; medium or low dryer temperature.Polyester: cool or warm water; medium or low dryer temperature.Rayon: cool water; tumble dry low or line dry; hand washing is recommended. Silk: cool or warm water; air, line, or dry flat; hand washing is recommended. Spandex: cool water; line dry.Wool: cool or warm water; tumble dry low or dry flat; hand washing is recommended.

    Danielle Daly

    Sort laundry.Properly sorting your laundry requires a multi-step process. Start by sorting out the darks, lights and colors. Darks include anything with deep-colored dyes like black, red, navy, brown or dark gray. In addition to all-white garments, the whites pile should include pastel shades, cream, beige and light gray. Colors include anything in between like pink, lavender, orange, yellow, light blue and light green. When it comes to garments with multiple colors (think: a shirt with black and white stripes), perform a quick test to make sure that colors won’t bleed: Place a drop of water on the item and blot with a paper towel. If color doesn’t come off, then you can wash it with whites and lights, adhering to the guidelines on your garment’s labels. Then sort each pile by fiber type. Pull out any delicates that could be damaged by coarser fibers as well as items that should be hand-washed. Heavier, coarser fibers take longer to dry, so removing them will also prevent you from over-drying more delicate fibers. Also, keep in mind that you should never mix “lint-givers” (towels and rugs) with “lint-receivers “(knit and corduroy). From there, take out any heavily soiled garments. Really dirty items — whether stained, sweaty or extremely smelly — should always be washed separately from lightly soiled ones. Before moving on to the next step, give the care and fiber labels another glance to make sure that everything in your laundry pile calls for the same water temperatures and drying times.

    Danielle Daly

    Pretreat stains.It always pays off to spend extra time caring for your clothes before throwing them in the washing machine. If you notice any stains, whether fresh or dried, follow these stain-specific guides to get rid of them, stat.

    Get Rid of the Most Common Stains

    Pick the right detergent and fabric softener. All laundry detergents claim to remove stains, whiten, keep colors bright and generally refresh garments. The problem at hand: There are hundreds of detergents to choose from and some work better than others. That’s why the Good Housekeeping Institute routinely tests laundry detergents to find the best ones on the market, taking into account different needs, price points and ingredients. In the most recent test of 42 laundry detergents, the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab determined which ones work best for every need, budget and concern.

    Although some people may skip fabric softener (sometimes called “fabric conditioner”) altogether, it’s recommended if you want to keep fabrics soft, reduce friction and keep wrinkles at bay. It pays off in the long-run, too: With consistent use, fabric softener, like GH Seal Star Ultra Downy Free & Gentle Liquid Fabric Softener, can extend the life of your most-loved garments. There are a few instances when you shouldn’t use fabric softener like when you’re washing microfiber, sportswear, towels, flame-resistant clothes (specifically children’s sleepwear) and water-repellent fabric. Select the water temperature and cycle on your washing machine.


    Each washing machine manufacturer tries to make their machines unique, which means cycles can vary from one brand to the next. Today’s washing machines are pre-programmed, as the wash time, water temperature and spin speed will pop up as soon as you select a cycle. You can override these selections to a certain degree if, say, your clothes are heavily soiled and need a longer wash time than the normal cycle calls for. Read your washing machine’s user manual to learn the differences between the wash cycles. When deciding which is best, consider the durability and soil level of your items. In general, the more durable (towels, sheets and heavy cottons) and dirty the items, the longer and hotter the cycle should be. If you’re working with delicate, stained or bulky items, keep the following cycle descriptions in mind (but know that they may differ for your washing machine).Delicates are typically programmed with a cool or cold water temperature, but you can typically change it to warm. This cycle has a gentler agitation and a slower spin seed to prevent damage.Casual or Permanent Press Cycles cool the water gradually and have slower spin speeds to minimize wrinkles. Stain Cycles start cold to keep stains from setting in and then heat up gradually to fully remove stains. Bulky Bedding Cycles may add in a second rinse or increase the spin speed to extract more water than a normal speed cycle.
    The Right Way to Clean Hard-to-Wash Items

    Danielle Daly

    Load items into the washer or hand wash. Take these steps before you throw your garments in the washing machine to ensure an easy, damage-free wash. Check buttons, pockets and zippers: Help clothes keep their shape by emptying pockets, zipping zippers and fastening button on jackets, knits and pants. If you have time, fasten a few buttons on shirts and blouses. Always remove belts from dresses, pants and robes, and wash them separately. Turn certain items inside out: Anything dark (jeans, especially) or embellished should always be washed inside out to preserve color and detail. Do the same with items where the inside neck or sleeves get especially dirty. Stick delicates and small items in a laundry bag: Protect delicate items (underwear, bras and other lingerie) from damage by placing them in a mesh laundry bag before washing. While you’re at it, round up small items, like socks and fabric belts, and add them to the bag to make sure they don’t get lost in the wash.Measure detergent: Always use the cap or scoop that comes with your liquid, powder or packet detergent. Measure the amount based on the size of your load and level of soil.For both top-load and front-load washers with separate dispensers, load the clothing in, then add liquid or powder detergent and fabric softener to the dispenser and start the machine. If you’re using single-use detergent, like Tide Pods, place it in the machine before adding your clothing unless you’re using a newer machine with a dispenser designated for single-dose packs. At this point, place the items in the washing machine, making sure that nothing is tangled or twisted. If your top-load washer doesn’t have a detergent dispenser, place it directly into the tub, start the water and add in the clothing as it’s dissolving. Follow a similar approach for front-load washers without detergent dispensers: Place single-use detergent packs in the machine first, add the clothing, close the door and start the machine. For older machines without fabric softener dispensers, add it directly to the rinse water in the washing machine. Make sure to pour it in open pockets of water rather than on top of fabrics to avoid staining. If you determine that hand-washing is the safest bet, follow this guide on how to wash delicates:

    Danielle Daly

    Fill sink with water — cool, lukewarm or warm, per the garment’s labels — and place garments in. (FYI: Wool, silk and bright colors clean best in cold water.) As the sink is filling, add the recommended amount of detergent, so it can properly dissolve before you add the clothing. Once the detergent is completely dissolved, lay your garment in the water and gently press it down to fully immerse it. If the water turns color at this stage, it may just be excess dye washing off, which shouldn’t result in any color loss after washing.Rinse thoroughly. If you have a sprayer on your faucet, place lightweight garments, like lingerie or swimsuits, in a colander and rinse clean. Otherwise, fill the sink with cool, clear water, immerse the garment and squeeze the water through to rinse. Repeat as needed.Remove excess water. Wringing out wet, delicate fabrics may cause damage, so instead, lift the garment with both hands and gently squeeze out as much water as possible. Lay it flat on an absorbent towel, and roll the towel and garment together until the water is absorbed.Lay items flat to dry. To prevent delicates, especially knits, from stretching out of shape, block them back into shape after washing before laying them flat to dry. Speed up the drying process by laying sweaters or swimsuits on top of a dry towel, and let them air dry. Once the front is dry, flip them over.

    Danielle Daly

    Unload the washer and load items into the dryer or air dry. Promptly remove items from the washer to prevent mildew and reduce wrinkles. Shake items out after removing them from the washer to prevent wrinkles in the drying process. Dryers let you adjust the time, temperature and dryness levels of most loads, but always check your garment’s care label for recommendations. Most dryer cycles are automatic, which means that a dryer can sense when the load is dry and end the cycle. This ultimately saves energy and prevents fabric damage from over drying. Time dry cycles run for the length of time that you select and should be used for bulky items, like comforters or jackets, that take a long time to dry. Here’s a breakdown of the most common dryer settings, along with recommendations on when you should use them.Regular, sometimes labeled Mixed Loads or Cottons, is safe for most items, including sheets, towels, underwear and regular clothes.Permanent Press, sometimes labeled Casual, is best when you want to minimize wrinkles on items like chino pants and shirts. Delicate is best for delicate items since it has a low temperature and tumbling motion. Air Fluff tumbles without heat, making it a great option for fluffing pillows or removing dust from drapes. Once you stick your clothes in the dryer, place a dryer sheet, like the ones from GH Seal Star Bounce, on the top of the pile before you select the cycle. Not only do dryer sheets leave clothes smelling clean and feeling soft, but they also reduce overall static. Similar to fabric softener, avoid using dryer sheets when drying sportswear, microfiber, towels, flame-resistant clothes (specifically children’s sleepwear) and water-repellent fabric.

    Mike Garten

    Hang or fold items. Hang or fold clothes as soon as they are dry to prevent wrinkling. But when the inevitable happens (a.k.a. wrinkles), give your clothes a quick steam or iron to get rid of them. While you may prefer one de-wrinkling method over another, there are particular instances where steaming or ironing is recommended.

    Mike Garten

    Use a garment steamer to de-wrinkle soft, flowy fabrics and tough-to-iron items like jackets.Hang the garment on a hanger from a hook or rod, grasp the bottom of the garment with one hand and pull it taut. Hold the steamer slightly away from the fabric and move it up and down, allowing the soft steam to penetrate the fabric. Move the steamer closer to the fabric for a longer period of time to get rid of stubborn wrinkles.

    Mike Garten

    Ironing is the way to go if you prefer crisp fabrics with sharp creases. Select the correct temperature and steam settings for the fabric. Linen and cotton can handle high heat and heavy steam, but synthetics, wool and silk need lower temperature settings and less or no steam. Aside from fabrics like silk or rayon, mist the fabric with the iron’s spray button. Iron each section with smooth forward, backward, and side-to-side strokes. Apply a burst of steam to iron stubborn creases. Move to another section and repeat the steps.Clean your washer and dryer regularly.Leftover laundry detergent, fabric softener and built-up debris can get stuck in your machine, eventually causing your washer to grow mold and develop a musty smell. To avoid this, make sure you clean your machine often and well.After every wash, remove any debris or pet hair, so it doesn’t redeposit on future loads. Once a month, give your washing machine a deep clean. Even if your machine has a special cleaning cycle, thoroughly clean it by adding 1/2 cup of liquid chlorine bleach to the dispenser and running a normal cycle with hot water (or follow what your machine’s manual says). You can use a specialty cleaner, like Affresh or Tide Washing Machine Cleaner. If you have a front-loader, wipe and dry the rubber seal on the door. Similar to washing machines, dryers require regular maintenance. Along with cleaning the lint filter after every single load, make sure you clean the chamber that houses the lint filter once a month. To do this, pull out any lint you can grab and use your vacuum’s crevice tool or a dryer cleaning brush to grab what you can’t reach. Once a year, pull your dryer away from the wall, so that you can easily vacuum behind and under the machine. Remove the dryer’s duct and vacuum as far as you can, as well as the opening at the back of the dryer. Be sure to check outside venting for leaves or debris that may be blocking it. For a more thorough dryer and duct cleaning, hire professional services, like Dryer Vent Wizard. Now that you’ve got the steps down, make sure your laundry room is stocked with all of the best products, all tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. More

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    How to Get Grease Out of Clothes, Whether the Stain Is Fresh or Dried

    Even though pizza is your favorite Friday night dinner, it’s often the culprit behind life’s worst grease stains. “Grease is one of the most common stains I get asked about and it can be one of the toughest to remove, especially from synthetic fabrics, like polyester,” Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, says. Shout Advanced Grease-Busting Foam worked the best on grease in our Cleaning Lab tests, but if you’re at work or nowhere near a laundry room, there are a couple of easy remedies that will help get out fresh grease stains. Forte’s go-to for removing grease stains on the go: dish soap. It’s made to cut grease on your plates, so it can also help with your clothes. The condiments on your table can work magic, too. A sprinkle of salt or artificial sweetener helps prevent an oil stain from setting into the fabric and makes it easier to lift when you’re doing laundry later on.How to Get Grease Stains Out of Washable Clothes Follow these six simple steps for getting out new and old grease stains, no matter where you are (or what oily food you spilled). MaterialsSalt or artificial sweetenerDish soapShout Advanced Grease-Busting Foam or another pre-treaterStep-by-step InstructionsIf you’re out and about, quickly sprinkle a little salt or artificial sweetener on the stain to keep it from setting. Brush off the powder after a few minutes. At home, immediately work a little grease-cutting dishwashing soap into the stain and rinse with warm water.When it’s time to launder it, rub in liquid laundry detergent or apply a pre-treater, like Shout Advanced Grease-Busting Foam. Wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Air dry the garment until you are sure the stain is completely gone. That’s it! Consider your work shirt officially saved.

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    How to Remove Coffee Stains From Your Carpet, Clothes, and Just About Everything Else

    Coffee spills always happen at the most inconvenient time: as you’re running out the door, at the end of a long dinner party, or just when you finally sit down to curl up with a book. Similar to some red wines, coffee stains can be extremely hard to remove. This is because many beverages — coffee, tea, and red wine included — contain tannins due their high temperatures.Luckily, Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab in the Good Housekeeping Institute, is here to share the best tips and tricks on how to remove coffee stains from clothes, upholstery, and more. ClothingSponge the stain with cool water or soak the garment in cool water for 30 minutes. Pretreat the stain with a prewash stain remover, like Resolve Stain Stick, and launder with chlorine or oxygen bleach, if it’s safe for the fabric. If your coffee had milk or cream in it, make sure you use a detergent with enzymes in it that will help break down stains, like Tide Coldwater Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent. “Most stain-fighting detergents have enzymes, but check the packaging to make sure your brand does,” Forte says. UpholsteryMix 1/2 tsp of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of cool water. Using a clean, white cloth, sponge the stain with the mixture. Repeat until the stain disappears, then sponge once more with cold water and blot dry. CarpetBlot up as much of the coffee as you can. Then, mix 1/2 tsp of liquid dish soap and 1/2 tsp of white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water. Using a clean, white cloth, sponge the stain with the mixture. Apply a little bit at a time, blotting frequently with a dry cloth until the stain disappears. Finally, sponge with cold water and blot dry.MugsIf you’ve ever left your mug in the sink for a couple days, you know the struggle that is a stained ceramic cup. Forte says all you need is a Good Housekeeping Seal Star Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to wipe off marks. Or, if you don’t have one on hand, sprinkle some baking soda on top of your dish soap to add an extra oomph of abrasion and clean as usual.

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    Lowe's Is Giving Away Free Gardening Kits Next Month

    If you don’t have spring break plans, you’re not alone. In a recent survey from Lowe’s, 70% of people responded that they don’t plan to take a leisure trip until late summer. That being said, the retailer wants to help consumers jazz up these next couple of months of warm weather by helping them turn their homes into the ultimate destination this spring.In April, Lowe’s will host SpringFest, a new home and garden experience that will feature special events, markdowns on our favorite warm-weather products, travel-inspired content, and more. Throughout the month, customers will be able to learn new skills through online and in-store demos in select stores. Think: lawn care maintenance with Scotts and paint demos with Sherwin-Williams. All events will follow safety and social distancing guidelines.In addition, Lowe’s will also be giving away free Garden-to-Go kits every Thursday in April starting on the 8th. To receive your complimentary kit, all you have to do is head on over to starting April 1st to reserve one. You can then pick it up the following Thursday during a special curbside event. There will be a different Garden-to-Go kit each week — two of which will come in unique packaging.

    Available April 8, this Garden-to-Go kit includes a Bonnie Foodie Fresh Plant, 8-quart Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, 8-oz Miracle-Gro All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food, globes and more.

    Lowe’s shared a few details about the four kits complimentary kits.The Garden-to-Go kit sponsored by Miracle-Gro, available on April 8, includes a Bonnie Foodie Fresh Plant, 8-quart Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, 8-oz Miracle-Gro All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food, globes, and exclusive recipes from professional cook and food stylist Amanda Frederickson. The Lowe’s Mystery Garden Pinata by CAMP, available on April 15, includes a biodegradable flower pinata, mystery seed bombs, and mystery growfetti. On April 22, the Garden-to-Go kits include tree saplings given out in honor of Earth Day (species varies by region). Lowe’s by CAMP Butterfly Quest, available on April 29, includes wooden pieces to assemble and decorate, paint, a paintbrush and milkweed seeds to help families create a butterfly garden.

    This pinata-themed Garden-to-Go kit, available on April 15, includes mystery seed bombs and mystery growfetti.

    This butterfly-themed Garden-to-Go kit, available on April 29th, has all the tools for families to make their own butterfly garden.

    Not a bad way to celebrate spring if you ask us. You can shop all of Lowe’s outdoor and spring-related products here.

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