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  • While some items will always need professional attention, many fabrics can be freshened at home. Once you know which clothes and stains are good candidates, you can take care of them yourself without much effort or expense, in the comfort of your own laundry room.

    Related: 47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen

    Which Clothes Can Be Washed?

    Chances are you can launder more of your wardrobe than you think. Reading a garment's care label -- not only for the method of cleaning, but also for the fabric content -- is key to determining whether you can wash an item at home.

    The Truth About "Dry-Clean Only"
    Clothing manufacturers are required to recommend at least one cleaning method on their products' care labels. When a tag reads "dry-clean only," it doesn't necessarily mean that the item can't be hand-washed, especially if it's made of natural fibers, says Steve Boorstein, a former dry cleaner who now shares his clothing-care tips in books and on DVDs. But professional dry cleaning can

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  • A clean bed means more than washing your sheets and pillowcases.

    A clean bed means more than washing your sheets and pillowcases.

    If you haven't thought about cleaning your mattress lately, think about this: You probably spend at least six or seven hours there every night. That's a long time to be somewhere that's not as clean as it could be. Follow these tips every few months and you'll rest easier knowing your bed is extra fresh.

    Related: Save Money and Make Your Cleaning Products Last Even Longer

    1. Ditch dust
    The easiest way to tackle dust is to use the upholstery tool on your vacuum cleaner to go over the top and sides of the mattress and as much of the box spring as you can access. Press firmly on the tool to draw out dust beneath the fabric's surface. Then use the crevice tool to get into the quilting, along the edge welting, and where any pillow top is attached. If you have a garment steamer, go over the mattress with the steamer before you vacuum to help kill and remove dust mites lurking near the surface.

    Related: We Know Why It's So Hard to Get Your Home Dust-Free

    2. Zap stains
    If pets sleep on your

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  • Do we really need to use hand sanitizer?

    The conversation about hand sanitizer has been going on for years. Is it toxic? Does it really kill germs? Is it better than soap and water? (Yes, many sanitizers contain toxic ingredients, it does kill germs--both good ones and bad ones, and no, ultimately it's been decided by the FDA that it is not more effective than soap and water). Still, the product is readily available in dispensers at offices, airports and gyms, is marketed in dozens of fragrances and is on most elementary school classroom supply lists. I've always refused to use it on my own body and instruct my family not to use it. When offered sanitizer at the home of a new baby, I always elect to go to the bathroom and wash my hands with hot, soapy water. I just don't feel like spreading chemicals on my hands to kill germs is a smart health decision.

    Most of the discussion about hand sanitizer revolves around its germ-killing abilities (or inabilities, as the case may be). I feel very strongly that the dangers of sani

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  • Save money and make these products last.

    Save money and make these products last.

    1. Don't automatically fill both dispensers in your dishwasher.
    The detergent box recommends it, but it's better to adjust the amount of detergent to the soil level of the load and the hardness of your water. Start by filling each cup halfway, adding a bit more for extra dirty dishes and hard water. Plus, using too much detergent can leave a filmy residue on your glasses and flatware.

    Related: You'll Never Believe What Your Dishwasher Can Clean

    2. Always measure laundry detergent.
    I know the numbered lines inside detergent caps are impossible to see, but with today's 2x and 3x concentrated detergents, a full cap is too large a dose for most loads. Adding more detergent won't get clothes any cleaner; instead, laundry can still be soapy at the end of the cycle and front-loading washers that are sensitive to excess suds may shut down.

    Related: You Should Never Swap These Cleaning Products

    3. Spray the cloth, not the surface.
    When cleaning mirrors, polishing furniture, and shining stai

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  • Get your home clean without exposing yourself to something even more harmful.

    Are you a little freaked out about all of the chemicals in your cleaning products, but worried that going green won't clean as well? We get it. It's hard to know what products are both safe and effective when it comes to cleaning house. "There are a lot of bad basic cleaning formulas out there filled with chemicals," explains "The Godmother of Green" Annie B. Bond, an expert on green living and best-selling author of five books, including "Better Basics for the Home."

    MORE: Beauty Secrets of the U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team

    In small amounts, exposure to these toxins is not a problem-after all, your liver is designed to detoxify your body of chemicals-but they can even damage the liver itself. Bond, a survivor of chemical poisoning who devoted herself to educating others about healthy living, believes that every toxic substance you come into contact with accumulates in your system and that, eventually, their cumulative effects could trigger health problems ranging from headaches to

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