laundry tips from the First Laundry Lady

Before washing, all stains should be treated. Glance over your garments, inside and out, before sorting and add to a separate pile for treatment. For specific stain information, take a look at our A-Z Stain Guide. But first, always:

Treating stains

  • Cover your bench or workspace in thick, old towels to keep fresh stains under control.
  • Before treating stains, always test treatments such as bleach or vinegar on an inconspicuous spot such as the inside of the bottom hem for colour safeness and fabric wear. If the fabric’s colour and weave is unchanged by the treatment, is is usually safe to proceed.
  • Wear rubber gloves when using abrasive chemical agents to protect the delicate skin on your hands. Wear old clothes and do not touch your face until your hands have been washed thoroughly post-treatment.
  • Dab at stains – do not rub – and use lifting motions to remove stain residue from fabric fibres. Take care and stop before you wear a hole.
  • The Secret to Spot Stain Removal

Quick Notes

  • Concentrates can burn if put directly onto fabrics.
  • Powders should go in first with the warm water running to dissolve.
  • Laundry Liquid is safer on fabrics however get into the habit of putting cleansers into the machine, turning it on and letting run for 1 minute, then loading the machine.
  • How much is too much?
  • You can quickly tell if you’re using too much laundry cleanser by simply soaking a single garment in warm water for 5 minutes, then give it a squeeze. If bubbles form, this means you are using too much cleanser! So start reducing your scoops per load. Otherwise, you will be wearing a cleanser against your skin all day long.
  • Experience is everything!
  • Trust your dry cleaner’s experience, and if in doubt, always ask how to clean your fabrics before doing so.

Washing Tips

Sorting your clothes by similar fabrics and colours is one of the most important steps in correct laundry practice. Separate loads by whites, bright colours and dark colours, then even further by fabric similarities – delicates or man-made fibres, cotton or natural fibres and terry robes, wool and towels. Always separate lint producing fabrics such as towelling from lint attracting fabrics such as velvet and corduroy. As you sort, close zippers, turn garments inside out and check pockets for tissues or paper.

Delicates Lingerie and swimwear should always be hand washed in the sink with laundry soap designed for delicates. Remember that silk, wool, linen and rayon should typically be dry cleaned. Always leave to the professionals if in doubt. Many people are content with turning the washing machine dial to Normal or Quick Wash and deciding that’s it. While these washes are great for most clothes, you will need to adjust the dial, particularly for heavily soiled items, delicates, washable wools, jeans and towels. Also, adjusting the dial will maximise the cleaning capabilities of the washer.

Load Washer Fill the machine with a mix of small and large items. Fill the machine enough so that items rub together, but not so much that they cannot move freely. If in doubt about your washer’s maximum capacity, read the manual.

Set Dial Select cycle or manually adjust. If manually adjusting.

Choose Temperature Read your care labels. The washing temperature is very important. While the hotter the water, the better the clean – some fabrics cannot withstand hot water. Always read the care label first – more often than not it will give you the maximum temperature in degrees that the fabric can take.

Choose Length Long cycles are good for removing stains, towels, sheets, jeans and whites, while short cycles are best for delicates, dress clothing and sweaters.

Hot Water Best for whites and colourfast clothes. For set-in or greasy stains, hot water must be used to open the fibres in the fabric, activate the cleaning agents and remove soiling.

Warm Water Best for 100% man-made fibres or natural and man-made fibres. Use for moderately soiled items.

Cold Water Keeps most dyes in dark or bright coloured clothing and minimises shrinkage of washable wool. Best for lightly soiled clothing and blood, wine or coffee stains.