The Damsel has 7 sprogs; thus it goes without saying she’s been around the laundry block.
This simple, cheap pre-soak WORKS, especially on food stains. It came into the grateful hands of the Damsel via The Tightwad Gazette, which was a fantastic newsletter published back in the 90’s.
Mix one cup powdered dishwashing detergent (like Cascade) and one cup oxygen bleach (like Clorox II–NOT regular bleach) in 5 gallons of the hottest water your tap can produce. Put in several articles, swish them up and down (the Damsel uses a 5 gallon bucket, but whatever works) and leave overnight. The next day, launder as usual. (Don’t do this with things hot water might hurt, but most regular clothes are fine.)
The Damsel does not know why dishwashing detergent has a secret second life as a laundry booster. Sometimes it’s best not to ask awkward questions.
This helps take out stains but also brightens whites if you’ve got any dingy ones. The Damsel understands how depressing this can be. Save your depression for other things the Damsel can’t help you with, such as cellulite or terrorism.