A familiar cleaning product, ammonia is a colorless gas made from two parts hydrogen and one part nitrogen. A common ingredient in window cleaners, it is also useful in boosting your cleaning power when doing laundry. The alkaline cleaner does a good job tacking acidic stains, such as perspiration and urine. It is not suitable for washing all fabrics as it can damage the fibers in wool and silk. Yet ammonia is an effective laundry aid when washing towels.
When using ammonia, be careful before combining it with other cleaning chemicals, such as vinegar or bleach. Mixing ammonia and bleach or vinegar creates a potentially lethal gas. Don't mix ammonia with any cleaning or laundry product containing bleach.
Before adding a load of towels to your washing machine, add 1/2 cup of household ammonia to the laundry water with the laundry detergent. Don't add the ammonia to the water if there is any bleach in the water, and only add bleach-free laundry detergent. Some people add white distilled vinegar to laundry to brighten a load; don't do this when using ammonia.
If you wash a load of towels and immediately discover, while loading the dryer, that a piece of clothing or dark colored towel has left dye stains on the entire load of towels, you possibly can remove the stains if you act quickly and don't allow the towels to dry. Fill the washer with cool water, and add liquid detergent and ammonia, using about 1/2 tsp. of liquid soap and 1 tbsp. of ammonia to each quart of water. Instead of using the washing machine, soak the towels in a bucket if desired. After 15 minutes, thoroughly rinse the towels with fresh water.
To improve the absorbency of new towels, soak them in several gallons of warm water and a cup of ammonia, or wash the towels with 1/2 cup of laundry detergent and 1 cup of ammonia, which helps remove chemical and oil residue on new towels. Using ammonia also helps remove the musty smell on towels that sometimes develops after they're stored.
Ammonia is available in different scents, such as lemon or clear all-purpose cleaner. Before adding ammonia to your load of towels, refer to the manufacturer's recommended usage amount on the packaging as the recommended usage amount can differ.