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Sure-fire laundry tips to make your kids' clothes last longer

(BPT) - Taking care of your kids' clothing can be a non-stop, dirty business. All that running around, sliding into home plate and puddle jumping can wear out more than just your kids' shirts and pants. It can also leave parents feeling like they're constantly catching up on laundry and continuously replacing faded, stained or worn-out clothing.

Fortunately, a few simple tricks can help make laundry less of a chore, extend the life of children's clothes and even your budget. Lifestyle expert Liz Mays, who blogs at www.anutinanutshell.com and has partnered with Tide, Gain and Family Dollar, offers these sure-fire laundry tips to help make kids clothes last longer and look their best:

* Always read care labels and follow the specific recommendations. It may seem like common sense, but it's surprising how many garments get ruined in the laundry because no one reads the care instructions. If your little one finds those labels and tags itchy and asks you to remove them, save the tags and tape them all to a sheet of paper. Note which tags belong to which garments, and then hang the paper in the laundry room for quick reference when it's time to do the wash.

* Pretreat stains as quickly as possible. Fruit juice spills, grass stains, blood from cuts and scrapes are all repeat stain offenders and can be tricky to get out. Detergents like Tide Ultra Stain Release contain special ingredients to help remove these stubborn stains. You can even get specialty Tide products like these at discount stores like Family Dollar for an amazing value. When used quickly, detergents like these can be your best defense against those stains becoming permanent.

* Safe-guard clothes.Fasten all snaps, zippers and buckles before washing clothes to prevent catching and snagging. Place delicate garments in individual mesh bags before you wash them so they do not get tangled with other clothes.

* Less is more when it comes to modern detergents. Too much can make fabrics look dull and feel stiff, itchy and uncomfortable. Not sure how much to use? Pre-measured detergent packs like Gain Flings can help eliminate guesswork on laundry day and ensure you're using exactly the right amount of detergent.

* Line dry clothes. If you can't hang clothes outside on a clothesline, consider drying them inside on a portable rack. Clothes dryers can be hard on fabrics, breaking down the elastic fibers in clothing and contributing to shrinkage and fading. When you must use the dryer, be sure to clean the lint trap after every load - the dryer will operate more efficiently and last longer. Additionally, always use the lowest setting with a cool-down period. High heat is most damaging for clothes.

* Separate wardrobes. Separate play clothes from school clothes to ensure that your kids wear their most durable outfits when their play is most active. Before kids wear clothes, consider reinforcing high-stress areas like knees and elbows with patches inside the garment. Sturdier fabrics that won't stretch over time can be placed on hangers, but knits and T-shirts can be folded and stored in drawers to preserve their shape.

*Finally, get kids involved in laundry chores. Even the smallest children can learn to separate whites from colors, and elementary-age children can help fold and put clothes away. Teens can tackle loading and running washers and dryers so you won't have to. Helping with laundry not only teaches kids a valuable life skill and responsibility, it may even inspire them to think twice before climbing a tree or embarking on a painting project while wearing their Sunday best.

Taking care of your family's clothes doesn't have to break the bank. Stop by your local Family Dollar store and check out the everyday low prices on great laundry care products from Tide and Gain.

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