Dear Home Ec 101,
Do you know how to reduce lint in the laundry? My husband just started a new job that has him wearing dress slacks—like Dockers—and dress shirts instead of the jeans and t-shirts he’s always worn.
Even though I wash and dry them separately (to avoid any ironing!) they still come out with a lot of lint on them.
I clean out the dryer lint trap after every load and that doesn’t seem to matter.
Do you have any suggestions on how to reduce the lint in the laundry?
The lint on all of our clothing is driving me bananas.
Lint-ridden in Linton
Wow, does the internet have a lot to say about lint. And interestingly, there are a lot of people who don’t know what lint is.
So, let’s start at the beginning
What is lint?
Lint is fuzz created from tiny broken and loose threads or yarn.
Lint tends to build up in washers and dryers. Unlike what some internet searches will tell you, lint is not dust mites, looking at you, wiki.answers—that one just hurt to read. Remember, folks, not everything on the internet is true.
New clothes will often produce a LOT of lint.
Why? The broken and snipped threads created during manufacturing are shed during the first few washes. Additionally, the fibers that aren’t secured at both ends of the outer layer of the material used to weave your clothing comes loose most often early in the life cycle of your clothing item.
How to reduce the creation of lint.
You can reduce the creation of new broken threads by not overdrying your clothing, as excess heat and tumbling/friction stresses the fibers in your fabrics.
Remove your items from the washer and shake them out. The loose fabric dries more quickly than the twisted lump that some washers like to create.
On a whim, I bought an interesting gadget that I saw on TikTok of all places and have found it very helpful for drying large sheets. It’s called Wad Free. You pinch each corner of a sheet into the square and it creates a little parachute preventing the sheet from becoming a twisted mass in the dryer and reducing the time it needs to dry. I love this thing.
If you really want to reduce your lint production start to just dry your clothing only until the wrinkles from washing disappear and then hang your items to finish drying. You won’t have to iron and the clothing will produce less lint, and as a nice little bonus, your clothes will also last longer.
If you have one, use a clothesline and eliminate using a clothes dryer altogether.
Don’t wash your clothes too often.
Not only does this tip reduce wear on clothing, but it also reduces your energy bill and your overall environmental impact. Americans, as a whole, tend to wash their clothes far more often than necessary.
a) you wear underwear (don’t tell me otherwise, just wash your pants, please),
b) undershirts and/or a good antiperspirant are used, and
c) there hasn’t been anything spilled on the item
d) you use an item like an apron when cooking. (Or just change into your at-home clothes)
Hang clothing after wearing to allow it to air out. Obviously, there are times of the year when sweat is more of an issue and some people just sweat more heavily than others. Use your common sense and your nose, I suggest this on behalf of everyone you interact with, to help make that decision.
Now that we know how to reduce the lint we create, what can we do to get rid of the lint we have?
Before you wash your next load of hopefully lint-free clothing, take a peek inside the tub of your washing machine. You may need a flashlight to do this.
If the machine itself is full of lint or hair, it is time to clean out the clothes washer.
Wipe the tub out with a towel and then take that towel outside to shake it out. (Think about it, you really don’t want to put that lint right back in, do you?)
Next, run a quick, empty cycle on hot with the appropriate amount of detergent for your machine and vinegar OR chlorine bleach. Not gallons of bleach either, just a cup in a standard top-loader and 1/2 cup or less in a high-efficiency model. This should be done a few times a year.
If your washing machine is older, there is a chance that it has a built-in lint trap. If this is the case and you were unaware it existed, over time it can become an automatic lint spreader.
If you don’t have your washing machine manual, use Google and search for YOUR WASHING MACHINE BRAND AND MODEL MANUAL. You don’t need to use all caps. If you don’t know your the model of your machine, you can usually find it somewhere on the appliance. You might have to play detective. It can be difficult to find, but it will be on the appliance. common areas are: under the lid, inside the door, on the back near the bottom, and behind the control panel. You may have to open a door, but you generally do not have to disassemble anything to find this information. Write it down before searching and remember that sometimes ones can look like lowercase Ls and that zeros can look like the letter o. If you can’t find what you are looking for the first time, try swapping them out until you find what you need. Almost all washing machine manuals are online, usually in a pdf. Once you have your manual, follow the directions for cleaning the lint filter.
If you have a new, high-efficiency washing machine, wipe out the rubber gasket that lets the door seal tightly. This is a major lint, hair, and other funk trap. If this isn’t done, lint from one load can transfer to the next.
Finally, all over the Internet, I see people suggesting that a 1/2 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle will rid your life of lint problems. Eh, it’s a sort of your mileage may vary tip it could improve the solubility of the detergent and may help wash away the sticky detergent residue. Without the residue, lint won’t stick as much to clothing. Will it be life-changing? Not unless you habitually use too much detergent.
Don’t forget your dryer.
You may be cleaning the lint trap after every load, but how is the hose that leads to vent? Does it have a kink? If the air can’t escape, a clog can build. Lint clogs are a major fire hazard and can also cause lint to continue to circulate in your laundry.
Take a walk outside of your home and take a look there, too. Has a bird built a nest in your dryer vent? I sure hope not!
Best of luck and enjoy your less linty laundry.
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