Beginner’s Guide To Laundry

When we first move out of home and are suddenly faced with doing the laundry alone, it can be a really daunting task. But laundry is something we just cannot avoid – we need to wear clean clothes, use clean towels and sleep in a nice clean bed. Here is some simple laundry advice:

SEPARATE YOUR LAUNDRY Start by separating your laundry into different piles. A good way of helping you do this is to get a laundry basket that has sections. Take care not to put any clothes that are labelled ‘dry clean only’ into the washing piles.

Make 4 piles: Bedding and towels Jeans and other denim items Shirts and thinner items of clothing (such as underwear)

Knitwear These piles can be further separated by colour: Whites Light colours Dark colours

You can also separate by fabric: Cottons Synthetics Wool Delicates By separating into fabrics as well as colours you can choose the best cycle to use on your washing machine for each pile.

CHECK POCKETS Always check the pockets of any clothing before you do any washing. There is nothing worse than washing cash or tissue that was in someone’s pocket.

TURN CLOTHING INSIDE OUT To keep your clothes in better condition, always wash them inside out, to stop the colours fading. It is particularly important to wash jeans and dark colours inside out.

USE THE RIGHT WASHING DETERGENT Make sure you choose your detergent wisely – don’t be swayed by pretty bottles. There is a huge choice these days in the supermarkets, but you need to find one that is right for you and your machine.

I find liquid detergent better than powder, as it’s kinder to your washing machine and can also be used as a pre-stain treatment.

TREAT STAINS Always treat stains before adding items to the wash. Use a pre-stain treatment and let it soak in for 15 minutes before putting items into the washing machine.

TEMPERATURE Washing at lower temperatures is better for your clothes and will help prolong their life. It is also better for the environment.

Try to wash everyday clothing no higher than 40°C. TOWELS The best way to wash towels is on high heat – choose a 60°C setting. Wash them separately from the rest of the laundry.

Do not use fabric conditioner as this will damage the fibres. Instead, add some white wine vinegar to the wash. Always start the drying process for your towels as soon as the washing cycle has finished. Laundry symbols Always read the labels on clothing before washing. Here’s a quick guide to the laundry symbols.

How to iron

Ironing – it’s a bit like Marmite: you either love it or hate it! Personally, I love it. I find ironing is quite a good de-stressor and love nothing more than to put on a good film and spend an hour getting really stuck in. I know that I am achieving something worthwhile. As much as some of us hate it, ironing is one of those jobs you should do most weeks, otherwise, you will find the ironing pile starts to really get out of control. You can make ironing easier and faster by following a few simple steps.

DOES IT NEED IRONING? When you bring your washing in from the line or tumble dryer, remember that not every single item will need an iron. If you hang your washing well on the washing line and don’t overload the tumble dryer, this can potentially save a garment from needing to be ironed.

Rather than folding items into the ironing basket, some of them can be popped straight onto a hanger and put away in the wardrobe. I find that woollen jumpers don’t need much of iron and try to get these hung up straight away.

SPLIT THE IRONING UP Split your ironing into piles before you start. Take a look at the care labels and see what temperatures the garments need.

If you are using an older iron, start by ironing the low-temperature items, such as silk, first and move up to the awkward creased items that need a higher heat last.

LIGHTS ON Always iron in a well-lit room.

HANGERS AT THE READY Have plenty of clothes hangers to hand and a little rail or some of those over-the-door ironing hooks so that you can hang ironed garments up right away.

For those items you won’t be hanging, immediately fold them on a flat surface and put to one side, ready to go into drawers. This makes light work when it is time to put things away.

IRONING BOARD Use a good sturdy ironing board that doesn’t rock or wobble. Also, make sure your board is at the right height for you. Make sure you utilise the whole board by placing long items across the full width of the board.

The thinner end of the ironing board can also be very useful: it’s particularly good for getting to the creases near armholes. Place tops over the end of the board, being careful not to stretch the fabric.

IRON INSIDE OUT Have you ever noticed a slight sheen on dark clothes post-ironing? This is caused by the heat of the iron. A simple way to avoid this is by ironing clothes inside out wherever possible. This will help protect the appearance of your garments and keep them looking great. Other fabrics you should iron inside out are: silk, satin, linen, denim and corduroy.

DON’T OVER-IRON If your garment looks good after being ironed on just one side, don’t bother ironing the other side. Not only will this save you time, but ironing may cause your clothes to look tired over time.

Don’t do more than you have to. Avoid wiggling the iron around too much, as this may cause the fabric to stretch. It may also create new creases in the fabric, which will be tough to remove.

STUBBORN CREASES Stubborn creases may need a bit more than a hot iron. Make up a DIY spray from equal parts white wine vinegar and water. Spray directly onto badly creased areas and they should iron out more easily.

LOOK OUT FOR STAINS If you spot a stain while ironing, do not iron over it – the heat from the iron will embed the stain even further. Instead, soak the garment in a bowl of cold water with a drop of white wine vinegar and then wash again.

PURE COTTON ITEMS Pure (100 per cent) cotton garments are probably the hardest items to iron. Make your life easier by ironing these while they are still slightly damp. The heat will create steam when it hits the water, helping the creases to fall out.

IRON CARE Make sure your iron has completely cooled down before you put it away. Also, empty out the water reservoir, so that limescale doesn’t build up.