Getting Rid of Mildew Odor in Towels

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Dear Home Ec 101,

I’m not always great about making sure my towels get dried the same day they are washed. This leads to them smelling like mildew. Will the smell go away? Can I do anything to make it go away? Or did I just ruin all my towels?

Mildewed in Minneapolis

Heather says:

*READER WARNING* I don’t think I’ve stopped sneezing because of my allergies since my eyes popped open this morning. I have a kleenex shoved up my nose (hawt! I know) so I can type without getting anything disgusting on the keyboard, and having to write a post on that is not on my list of things I want to do. . . ever. All that is to say I’m in a fairly REALLY foul mood and if I accidentally over-snark, I’m sorry.

Your mildewed towels are not ruined. In fact, towels with mildew odor are a frequent topic here on, so don’t feel too alone in your habit of not drying the towels.

First of all, preventing mildew in towels by drying them promptly and thoroughly is the best tactic; but seeing as how it’s too late for that, we’ll work on remedying the mildew situation.

Check out this post on stripping detergent and fabric softener from your towels. You see, mildew can get trapped by the sticky residue left behind by using too much detergent, or ANY fabric softener. (You do know that using fabric softener on towels reduces their absorbency, right). If you consistently have a problem with detergent build up, go ahead and read this post on whether or not to wash clothes in cold water.

The Home-Ec101 Guide to Household Chemicals and Cleaners

Need to get the lowdown on using oxygen bleach and other household chemicals? We’ve got it.

If there are mildew stains, use oxygen bleach or sunlight to get rid of the mildew spots.  Just be aware that strong sunlight and the overuse of oxygen bleach (or lemon juice or vinegar) can all weaken the cotton fibers in your towels. They can also fade the dye, if your towels are dark colored. Remember weak fibers = more lint; and who needs lint in their laundry? No one, that’s who! Have a problem with lint? Read How to Reduce Lint in the Laundry Room.

Finally, if you consistently leave your laundry in the washer, and you have a front loader; then you may need to read how to get rid of mildew in a front loading washer.

These tips should help you both prevent and solve your mildewed towel problems.

Good luck!

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Drying Sweaters

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

I love, love, love my sweaters!  I anxiously await the autumn weather so I can wear them again.
When I dry them in the dryer (even without heat) they get beat up and often the seam (especially where a turtle-neck is attached) will begin to unravel and fray.  I have attempted hanging the sweaters but the resulting unsightly pucker marks are unacceptable and the sweater will often fall hopelessly out of shape.  (Not unlike the rest of us as we age! )

Of course, I know to lay them flat to dry.  However, I live in a highly humid area and laying them flat to dry not only requires space I just don’t have but my sweaters will literally begin to mildew/sour.  I can dry them with a fan, etc. but I seriously can only make room to lay out one or two sweaters at a time when I have many more.
So… that I have drawn out the whole story… you have any suggestions?

Damp in Durant

Heather says:

Washing sweaters is such a treat, no? Since they have to be treated gently and washed on the delicate or hand washing cycle not all of the water is extracted during the spin process. When you place the sweater on a flat surface to dry, the water that would drip away pools under the sweater, only to be wicked back up into the material. This fun little cycle, especially in humid climates, creates the perfect condition for mildew growth. The only thing more fun than removing mildew from regular laundry is trying to get mildew out of your delicate laundry.

A folding drying rack is one possibility, typically they fold up small enough to slide between your washer and and dryer or one of the appliances and a wall. There are also hanging versions that can be stored in a closet. I’m not saying run out and buy one, just tossing it out as an option for sweater lovers like yourself. If you do opt for a rack, choose one with screens or heavier sweaters may sag between the rungs, distorting the garment’s shape.

My simple solution for quickly drying sweaters is to lay them flat on an absorbent bath towel.

The towel wicks up a lot of the moisture preventing the sweater from sitting in a pool of water.  And yes, when you live in a humid area running  a fan in the room significantly cuts the drying time. If the sweater is especially thick or heavy, I often swap out the towel with a fresh one partway through the drying process.

You’ll find that drying your sweaters flat will also help them keep their shape.

Since the towels have only touched clean laundry I hang them for later use, rather than tossing them into the hamper and adding to this household’s laundry -with 6 people, we don’t need any. more. laundry.

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Microwave Rice: Quick Tip

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Heather says:

Last night all four of my burners were full. There was gumbo and etouffee, collard greens and oil to fry beignets, but I forgot the plain rice.

My stepfather commented something along the lines of just microwave it. I must have given him a funny look in between turning beignets. I figured what the heck, it was worth a shot. Either it worked or we’d just have to deal with no rice or a much longer wait.

It worked well, the time may need to be adjusted for your microwave, depending on the wattage. And you need to put a dishtowel under the dish, because it will bubble over.

Use the usual 2: 1 water to rice ratio and microwave on high for 15 minutes. You may need to give it an additional couple of minutes, check a few of the grains.  (It took 16 minutes the first round and should have gone 17 the second).

That’s it. I used 4 cups of water, 2 cups of rice. And dinner was saved.

Have you ever microwaved white rice?

What’s your favorite or suprising cooking tip that you’ve learned in a pinch?


How to Cook a Bolar Roast

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Heather says:

Just yesterday, I was checking out some of my usual suspects on the blogging circuit when I stumbled upon a post at Musings of a Housewife. Jo-Lynne was lamenting only having bolar roasts left from her bulk beef purchase.

I had never heard of a bolar roast so I did some internet sleuthing. Do  you remember when we talked about the how Boston butts are actually the shoulder of a pig? Well the bolar roast also has a random history.

Beef Cut Chart

The bolar roast isn’t a widely recognized cut, so there may be some variations depending on where you purchase your roasts. It seems as though all bolar roasts are large and generally from the shoulder or chuck region of the cow. As with other cuts from the shoulder region, you’ll have the best luck with a slow wet cooking style; think pot roasting or braising. These low heat methods melt the fat slowly, preventing the meat from drying out and it dissolves some of the tough proteins in the connective tissue.

When determining if your recipe is suitable for cooking a bolar roast, look for the mention of comparable cuts: bottom round roast, shoulder roast,  and bread and butter roasts.  My personal favorite is wine braised shoulder roast, mostly because  leftovers are fantastic on hoagies with cheddar. The leftovers could also easily translate into a sort of shepherd’s pie, pasties (I have got to get a recipe for these posted), or even just as an addition to vegetable soupl

You could also put the roast in the crockpot with some salsa. The combination of the low, slow cooking cooking method and the acidity of the salsa will ensure the meat is tender. Shred with forks and use in chimichangas, tacos, burritos . . . you get the idea.

I have read that it’s possible to cut shoulder roasts across the grain very thinly and then broil or stir fry. Just keep in mind you run the risk of meat that’s a bit chewy, in other words, don’t experiment if company is coming.

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Quick Tips from Everyday Life Episode 3

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Heather says:

Quick Apple Dip

1 TBSP creamy peanut butter
2 TBSP vanilla yogurt

Stir and serve with sliced apples.

Feel free to jazz it up and sprinkle on all kinds of evil delicious, just don’t try to pretend it’s healthy.

Ideas include:
granola, chocolate chips, coconut

It doesn’t take kids too long to realize they can reuse apple slices, don’t say I didn’t warn you.