• “Before you wash a load of towels, dampen one and use it to wipe down the sides and top of your washer and dryer. Then just toss the towel in with the load. Also, keep a toothbrush close to give the fabric-softener reservoir a scrub, and rinse it in hot water often.” — T.O. in Maryland
• Got kids and need a new sofa? Look for fabrics that clean up with soap and water. Upholstery that has subtle color changes or is woven or textured will hide stains; napped fabric and flat finishes show water spots and wear spots.
• For wood floors, make sure you dust-mop regularly. Dirt can scratch up your floors. Use a mop with a head that can be popped into the washer, and do so regularly.
• “My children love to read, and if they had it their way, they would have hundreds of books. To keep their interest in reading hot, we use the library, but we also patronize a local used-book store. They can search the stacks to find favorite authors and subjects, and they turn in books to get credit toward new ones. If they love a book at the library, try to find one at the bookstore to keep.” — A.C. in Florida
• Great advice that will save you money: Lower the temperature of your water heater to 105 F. It’s hot enough for washing, but not hot enough to scald a small child or sensitive skin.
• “Ever since we installed shaker pegs in the kids’ bathroom, the towels get hung up regularly. I think they used to have trouble putting the towels on the bar, and it’s easier this way.” — E.S. in Oregon
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