It’s not glamorous. In fact, it’s downright dirty. But we all have to spend some time with the never-ending mountain of laundry. Too many times I look at a shirt and have no idea how to salvage it from the disaster created by my children. How do they manage to get so many different stains onto one article of clothing? And more importantly, how do I get it back to normal? I sat down recently with a woman who works as a professional dry cleaner at a very exclusive store and asked about her top tips as an insider on the laundry scene. It turns out she had very helpful advice for anyone manning the washing machine.

Whitening: Bleach will yellow your clothes if you leave it soaking for too long. Instead, soak clothes in Biz or Oxy which will also break down the dirt molecules. Do a repeat soak for clothes that are very dirty. Zote, a bar shaped soap product, works very well to whiten things like the bottom of socks. Rub it in first and then leave it in the sink to soak in hot water while another load washes. By the time the load finishes, the socks will be ready to wash.

General Stains: Anyone who knows what they are doing will tell you not to rub a stain. When you rub or scrape a single part of the material, it changes the texture and will look different even after the mark is removed. Also, many dry cleaners will spot treat things like grass, ink, or paint stains for you.

Oil: For any type of oil, dab dish soap onto the stain while it is dry so you can still see it. Then when saturated, wash as normal. However, use the air dry option because dryer heat will set the stain.

Wax: Don’t do anything. You might damage the material. Dry cleaners have a cleaner that should easily get rid of it.

Bedspreads:  If you have washed your comforter at home, throw a few tennis balls or something similar into the dryer with it – especially if it’s down. The balls will help evenly distribute and dry the fill.

Dry cleaning: If you want something to stay dark, for example an expensive pair of jeans, dry clean it. Because it is, obviously, dry and not wet, the material will retain the color significantly better.

Eco-friendly Stores: The chemical dry cleaners use often contains perchloroethylene, or “perk.” However, there is now an organic version that does not include this chemical. Many cleaners may be using the organic version without advertising “eco-friendly.” If you are considering changing in order to be more environmentally conscious, ask first. You might be able to stay.