XLTL high-efficiency top-loading washer and dryer, GE
Image courtesy of GE Appliances Image by: XLTL high-efficiency top-loading washer and dryer, GE<br>Image courtesy of GE Appliances
There's more to laundry these days than just sorting colours. Here's the latest buzz in fabric care.
1. Fabric softener can save you money
Under a microscope, cotton fibres aren't all that dissimilar from strands of human hair. What's more, they're both at their most vulnerable when wet, which is why we use conditioner on our hair after shampooing. In the laundry cycle, that conditioning role is fulfilled by fabric softener. More than just perfuming your clothes and making them softer to the touch, fabric softener lubricates fabrics at the fibre level, reducing the damaging effects of friction in both the washer and the dryer, ultimately extending the life of your go-to garments.
2. "High-efficiency" washers aren't a fad
If you've still got a traditional agitator-method washer, you're officially in the minority. According to Jennifer Schoenegge, a clothes-care product manager at GE, high-efficiency (HE) washing machines now outnumber conventional washers in North American households. This is great news from an environmental standpoint, as not only can HE washers do up to four basket loads in a single wash but they also use half the water of standard models.
3. Not all high-efficiency detergents are equal
High-efficiency washing machines use cooler water than traditional washing machines; as a result, they require different detergents than agitator-method washers. Unfortunately, Schoenegge says some detergents that market themselves as being suitable for use in HE machines are simply repackaged versions of original formulas and can result in degradation of garment fibres over time. Look for detergents branded "HE Turbo," which offer protection against damage caused by cold-water washes, and collapsible suds that break down over the course of the wash and rinse clean in a single cycle. It's also important to avoid under- or overdosing detergent by measuring it according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
4. Dirty laundry doesn't always look dirty
In fact, "70 percent of the soil on your clothes is invisible—but it's there," says Margarita Bahrikeeton, global research and development leader for P&G Fabric Care. The tricky thing with these invisible stains (which are largely caused by oils from your body) is they attract even more dirt from the filthy water sloshing around inside your washing machine. Over time, Bahrikeeton says this dirt can degrade the contrast in your clothes, casting a "grey veil" over the entire garment that affects our perception of the colours. Although there are new detergents on the market containing polymers that claim to stop dirt from redepositing during the wash cycle (Tide Pods, for instance), you can take matters into your own hands by regularly washing your washing machine itself.
Making minor, yet meaningful changes to your lifestyle can help you become a significantly healthier and happier person. Our health expert shares five tips on sleep, nutrition and fitness to help you achieve these goals.
"Why does she look and feel so good? I think I want what she's having!" If you find yourself thinking like this it might be time to adopt some new habits.
Principal ballet dancer Sonia Rodriguez depends on her body for support, whether she's rehearsing in the studio, performing onstage or playing with her kids. She shares her best advice for staying strong and healthy.
Maintain your muscles
As a dancer, Sonia needs strong muscles to perform challenging jumps, control her body during choreographed balances and support herself through all those pirouettes. And every woman needs strong muscles to protect our joints, fire up our metabolism and carry out daily tasks—but we naturally lose muscle as we age, so strength-training exercises (which use free weights, machines or a person's own body weight to develop muscle strength) are essential for maintenance. When Sonia is short on time, she pares her usual morning workout down to a plank, which works the core (key for good posture and balance) as well as the upper body and legs.
Keep your fitness goals small and achievable
Ballerinas spend hours a day working on their form and striving for perfection, but Sonia knows that perfection is achieved one detail at a time. "You can't improve everything at once; it's impossible," she says. "Look at small goals. That's how you make improvements." For Sonia, that might mean spending one rehearsal day focusing just on maintaining a strong supporting leg. For the rest of us, it might mean concentrating on proper breathing during yoga or engaging our core during strength training.
Strategize your snacking
Sonia fuels her workouts with balanced snacks. "I get very cranky and can't focus if I don't have snacks throughout the day," she says. The best way to avoid feeling "hangry" is to eat fibre- and protein-rich foods such as nuts, edamame or veggies and hummus, which are more satiating than simple carbs, and to prepare snacks to have on hand so you can eat before hunger interferes with your energy levels.
Stretch it out
The poses ballerinas are known for are achievable by only the most flexible athletes. Still, having a degree of flexibility is important for all of us; it will improve posture and reduce the risk of injury. The best time to do your stretches? After a workout. "Your muscles are warmed up, so you get more benefit out of the stretch and there's less chance of hurting yourself," says Sonia.
Try Sonia's one-legged plank: Starting on your knees, lower yourself onto your forearms and extend both legs behind you, planting your toes on the ground for support. With your shoulders over your elbows, your torso flat and your legs straight, lift one foot; hold the pose for as long as you can. Repeat with the opposite leg. Lifting one leg increases the difficulty by forcing your muscles to support more of your body weight.