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08/15/2014 09:07 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The 4 Simple Items That'll Change The Way You Do Laundry

So you've been doing laundry for years without ever thinking twice about it. What is there to think about, after all? You've got a hamper. You know to use detergent. You have common sense. But there are a few things your laundry room might be missing that could make this chore way easier -- and help make your clothes last as long as possible. Here's what you should be adding to your shopping list, stat:

Dryer Balls
dryer ball
Dryer balls 2-pack, $4.59, from Target
What they are: Rubber balls with little nubs.
Why you need them: The main selling point of dryer balls is that they reduce drying time (which is debatable). However, the bigger reason to buy a set, is that they keep static at bay. They also help keep comforters and pillows fluffy. And in desperate times, we've also thrown a few in with dry clothes as a lazy alternative to ironing.
How to use them: Toss a couple in the dryer with wet laundry. They'll gently bop around during the cycle, lifting and separating items.

Lingerie Bag
lingerie bag
Lingerie bag, $5, from Bed Bath & Beyond
What it is: A lightweight mesh bag with a zipper.
Why you need it: What goes into a washing cycle as underwear often comes out a tangled mess (especially with thongs). By keeping delicate items in a washable bag, they get nice and clean without intertwining.
How to use it: Throw dainty items into the bag, zip it up, then toss it into the washing machine.

Washing Soda
washing soda
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, $9 for 55 ounces, from Amazon.com
What it is: Also known as sodium carbonate, washing soda is a powdery substance that's often billed as a laundry booster. (It does not contain detergent or soap.)
Why you need it: Washing soda helps your detergent work better by acting as a solvent to remove stains. It also has a temporary softening effect on hard water, which also improves detergent performance.
How to use it: Generally, you'll add a scoopful to the water in your washing machine after adding detergent.

Dye Catchers
color catcher
Shout Color Catcher Dye-Catching In-Wash Cloths, $4.50, from Drugstore.com
What they are: Individual sheets that help "catch" any leaching dye during a wash cycle.
Why you need it: Even if you're not committing the worst laundry sin (mixing red and white items in a load), you might have noticed that, after a few washings, lighter clothes can look a little dingy. A dye catcher can help you avoid such a fate, by absorbing any errant dye before it soaks into other clothing items.
How to use it: Usually, you'll simply toss a sheet in the washing machine after adding detergent, but check the package instructions.

Editor's note: Product suggestions are independently researched by our editorial team.

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