By Marlee Moore
Kara Creel beelines it to the back of her family’s farmhouse in Louisville, ready to tackle her No. 1 never-ending farm chore.
“If I’m at home and don’t hear the washer and dryer in the background, I feel unproductive,” said Creel, moving a mound of damp clothes to the dryer.
Four years ago, Creel and husband Baker moved to Barbour County, where they raise poultry, cattle and five kids — Jack, Riley, Ella Monroe, Bear and Lilly Kate. Creel quickly embraced experimenting with techniques to remove mud, manure, grease and gunk from clothing.
“Before we moved to the farm, I used homemade detergent (1 cup each of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, Borax and Fels Naptha),” she said. “I learned quickly that would not cut it for farm smells because let’s be real, chicken houses just smell different.”
Creel is not alone. Ask any farmer, or parent of a little leaguer, and they’ll say laundry is the gift that keeps giving. While Creel highlights farmhouse experiences from kids to canning on her B7FarmsCreative Instagram page, she was eager to share washing wisdom with other stewards of the land.
To combat overwhelming odors and cakey, earthy mud, Creel turns to Tide Ultra Oxi. She often rotates detergents to avoid building up an immunity to the product’s scent.
But stains? Those are another story.
“Life’s too short to get stains out of farm clothes,” she said.
Creel acquired an appreciation for well-done washing from her mom, Sandy Naylor, a master stain remover who often helped coworkers and friends remove unwelcome spots on clothes.
This fall, Creel put her talents to the test when washing son Bear’s white-and-blue striped polo, which was coated with grime and grass streaks after playing with friends at a football game.
After returning home late that Friday, Creel threw the shirt in a sink of hot water with a squirt of Dawn dish soap to soak overnight and loosen the dirt. A 1/2 cup of bleach and another squirt of Dawn joined fresh hot water the next morning. Following a 10-minute soak, Creel sprinkled powder detergent (OxiClean Stain Remover works, too) on the problem area, worked it in and scrubbed.
Rinse, repeat till stains are gone, and wash.
Voila. The shirt was saved.
Other tricks include breaking out a toothbrush for problem areas like collars, drying on a clothesline outside to fade stains and using a steamer to lift spots.
Creel is quick to note she doesn’t know everything and finds many of her laundry solutions online. That includes using powder detergent in mop water or stripping dirt from sheets by adding 1/4 cup baking soda in the washing machine drum and 1/2 cup vinegar in the rinse cycle.
The Creels’ farmhouse was built in the early 1900s, well before automated machinery lent a constant hum to the background of Americans’ lives — and when farm families scrubbed garments by hand.
That visual fills Creel with gratitude as she completes other chores while her tag-teaming appliances work in tandem.
“I’m so grateful to have a washer and a dryer and think about how much time and effort it took back in the day,” she said. “My family is my job. This is the most important work I could be doing, taking care of my kids. Laundry is part of that.”
Stain Removal Made Easy
Source: Alabama Cooperative Extension System
- Grease: Pre-treat with liquid detergent. Wash in hot detergent water. Add ammonia for heavy stains.
- Proteins (meat, blood, eggs): Wash in lukewarm water and synthetic detergent. If the stain has set, treat it with enzymes (chlorine bleach will negate the enzymes’ effectiveness).
- Mud: Wash with perborate bleach.
- Rust: Pre-treat with lemon juice or commercial rust remover in a glass or plastic bowl. Do not use chlorine bleach. Then wash.