• You can reduce utility costs by using your clothes dryer strategically.

    First, you can avoid the dryer entirely for some delicate items, which are
    easy to dry right from the washing machine. You can use a clothes line
    or even the sides of a smooth laundry basket to hang delicate clothes.
    Avoiding the dryer for these items also can reduce fabric shrinkage and
    wear and tear.

    Second, you can run heavier items in the dryer for five to ten minutes
    just to take out the wrinkles, then hang up the items to air dry. This
    includes t-shirts, knit collar tops, sweaters, shorts, jeans and trousers.
    This works if you don't need to wear the clothing that day and if you
    use appropriate hangers.

    For instance, you can use hangers with two spring clips for shorts and
    other lighter weight items. For jeans and trousers, you can straighten
    out the legs according to the seams, then hang the trousers upside
    down with a clip hanger from the ankle of each pant leg. Some knit
    tops may need wider hangers to avoid dimples at the shoulders, or
    you can use non-slip hangers. You can dry heavy sweaters on a
    clothes rack, or you can buy expandable hangers made specifically
    for air-drying sweaters.

    It may sound like extra work, but if you're planning to hang up your
    clothes anyway, you're simply doing that task earlier instead of later.
    Payoff number one: You can avoid the need to iron clothes that
    otherwise would come out of the dryer wrinkled. Payoff number two:
    Drying damp clothes in a room adds natural humidity, making the air
    more comfortable to breathe -- especially for those who use furnaces
    in the winter. Payoff number three: Reducing your use of the clothes
    dryer is good for the environment. Payoff number four: You'll lower
    your utility bill.

  • Here's an easy way to keep kids' laundry straight, especially if all your
    kids like the same brand of socks. Use a permanent laundry marker to
    place one dot on the bottom of each sock for your oldest child. Socks for
    the next oldest child get two dots on the bottom. Keep adding a dot for
    each child, depending on his or her age. This system can also work for
    sorting similar blue jeans or t-shirts.
  • Consider a monthly tickler file for the home as well as the office. This
    system helps you organize papers for future events or any recurring
    activity beyond the current month, such as a school notice for a kid's
    concert, a magazine article with vacation ideas, reminders for home
    maintenance, or even tax receipts.

    If the paper you're handling is 8.5 x 11 inches, you can place it directly
    into the appropriate monthly file for future action. For organizing papers
    smaller than 8.5 x 11, consider purchasing clear plastic page holders in
    bulk and keeping them in a thirteenth file for easy access. These are
    particularly useful for small news articles or save-the-date postcards that
    might otherwise get lost among the 8.5 x 11 pages in the file. Clear page
    holders, especially the slotted ones with sturdy plastic, can also help
    organize a few 8.5 x 11 pages if they're related by theme, such as a
    Thanksgiving guest list, recipes and decorating ideas.

    As each month ends, review the papers for the new month and start
    acting on them.