Laundry 101: My top 20 hints & tips

There was a reason I called this blog The Domestic Princess….one was my love for all princess type things, and the other was my love of all most things domestic.  I really enjoy being a housewife – seeing the house tidy and in tip top shape gives me no end of pleasure (I’m sad, I know!).  So, when I say I am slightly obsessed about our laundry, I’m not exaggerating.  I think The Domestic Prince would go as far as to say that I am militant about it.  I’m not sure where this obsession came from, but I’m thinking it’s not such a bad thing to be obsessed about.  Who doesn’t want to have their clothes looking pristine?!

So, without trying to tell “Grandma how to suck eggs”, here’s my laundry 101.

  1. Always read the garment’s sewn-in care label prior to washing.
  2. Always examine for stains before popping the clothes into the machine.  If any stains are found, treat in the appropriate way. (Look out for a future blog post on stain removal).
  3. Sort clothes into similar colours.  So anal am I about our laundry that I tend to do all the colours separately.  NEVER EVER wash anything apart from whites in the white wash.  Greyish whites is my number one bug bear when it comes to laundry.
  4. Prepare laundry for washing:
    • Check all the pockets for tissues, clips, money etc etc.  Confession time: I have been known to forget to do this…but I definitely learnt from my mistakes!
    • Remove any forgotten collar stays or cuff links.
    • Undo all buttons on shirts, this helps prevent tearing of the button holes.
    • Turn t-shirts, jumpers and delicate items inside out, as this will help prevent piling.
  5. Use the appropriate detergent for the different types of washes.  For example, use a biological* one for whites and a dark/coloured one for your black and coloured washes.  Your whites will be whiter and your colours will retain their brightness.
  6. Don’t put fabric conditioner in when washing towels, as it creates a film and stops them being absorbent.
  7. If you don’t want to exfoliate when drying off after a bath or shower, then soft and fluffy towels are what you’re after!  To get them soft and fluffy, just dry them in the tumbler dryer with some dryer balls.
  8. If you don’t own a tumble dryer, or are loathed to use it unless it’s raining, use only the tiniest amount of fabric conditioner when washing your towels.  Alternatively, you could make your own fabric softener by adding around 60ml (1/4 a cup) of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
  9. Wash towels separately from everything else, as otherwise you run the risk of your clothes being covered in lint.
  10. Bed linen and towels should be washed once a week and always on a full cycle, on a hot wash (60c and above), which will ensure all the germs are killed.
  11. As well as being a natural softener, white vinegar also has brightening properties.  If you don’t use a manufactured whitener like this, or this, and want your whites to always be dazzling white, then add 120ml (1/2 a cup) of white vinegar to the wash cycle.  For smaller items, boil 3.5l of water with 120ml of lemon juice.  Take off the heat and add the items you’re looking to brighten to the vessel, and leave for at least an hour.  After soaking, wash as usual.  N.B. do not soak silk in vinegar or lemon juice.
  12. To help keep our whites, white, I always wash them on a 40C wash with the addition of a whitener.
  13. Wash dark denim inside out and on a cold wash.  Lightly stretch them vertically before air drying out of direct sunlight.  This will help prevent fading and abrasion and lengthen the life of your denim.
  14. Ideally, underwear should be laundered by hand, but if you live in the real world, then go ahead and pop it in the machine (I do), however, put it in mesh bags.  This will help protect your bras and also the machine, should an underwire work its way loose (this has happened to us before I discovered the mesh bags!).
  15. Do not tumble dry bras.
  16. Wash delicates (wool, silk etc) with a mild detergent.  I love this one.
  17. Pre-treat the collars, cuffs and arm pits on work shirts, even if you can’t see any stains.  This will help prevent any stains occurring.
  18. To be as energy efficient as possible, always load the machine up to its capacity.  However, do not overload it, as otherwise your clothes won’t get cleaned nor rinsed properly.
  19. Talking of rinsing, another tip I’ve picked-up over the years, is to add baking soda to the rinse cycle.  By doing this, it helps
    • clothes to rinse more thoroughly
    • resist stain build-up on clothes
    • the laundry detergent work better
    • act as a deodoriser
  20. Clean your washing machine and tumble dryer regularly (I do mine every month).  I use a specific washing machine cleaner and run an empty load on a 95C wash.  However, 120ml (1/2 a cup) of vinegar in place of the washing machine cleaner will do the trick just as well.  You will just need to do another hot wash after it.  Don’t forget to clean the detergent drawer as well.  A clean washing machine, free from detergent build-up, lime scale and rust, can decrease your energy bills by up to 25%.  I think that’s incentive enough to get cleaning!

*Use a non-bio detergent for babies’ laundry.

Hope you find this helpful.  Please post in the comments section below any specific laundry questions.

With much love
The Domestic Princess

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