Cole & Wilson

Gentle care detergents, est. 1927.

Laundry Learnings for Newbies

Published on the 26th of September 2018

Off to Uni? Leaving home for the first time? Thought about how to tackle the laundry? No thought not.

It’s that time of year when many young people leave home for the first time. Off to university or college, or maybe travelling, or moving out to take up a first job. Wherever you are, if not living at home, you will unfortunately have to tackle your dirty washing.

In order to save you phoning home every time you need to wash something, (or worse saving it all up until a visit home), here’s some helpful hints and tips that should see you through the first few weeks before it all becomes second nature! Yes it will!

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So first off, try not to let it build up into too big a pile as it will take longer to sort and wash. Make sure you have a laundry basket or bin to put it all in.

1. Sort your wash
Separate colours or dark items from whites and light items. If you have a lot of washing you can also separate the heavy duty stuff i.e. jeans. Beware of delicate items and woollens that may need a separate wash.
Put all your bed linen and towels in one wash, as they can take a hotter temperature, needed to get rid of bacteria.

2. Check for stains and treat as soon as possible
You may not realize you have a stained item until you are about to wash it. But if you do, it’s best to treat the stain as soon as you can. This may need a soak with some washing liquid dabbed on the stain before putting in the machine. Don’t rub vigorously just dab. Don’t go for hot water, it can fix a stain, blood stains for example should be soaked in cool water. And for delicate fabrics, check the label first as it may need specialist treatment.

If you didn’t catch the stain beforehand, you can dab on a bit of washing liquid on the stained area as you put the item in the machine or use a stain removal spray that you can get in any supermarket. Neither of these methods is guaranteed to work, it depends on the type of stain and how soon you catch it. And that’s another blog right there!

3. Check the pockets
Empty out all the pockets. Turn down cuffs and trouser bottoms. Undo buttons on shirts. Take any belts off, i.e. dressing gowns. Zip up the zippers and do up any hooks. You can get a mesh bag for delicate items and/or washable shoes.

4. Check the labels to make sure all your things can be washed in the machine and are not dry-clean only. See our symbols guide below.

5. Liquid, powder or capsule
It’s all a bit daunting as there are many products to choose from as well as bio or non-bio formulas.

The easiest to use are the capsules, just throw in the machine. If you use liquid, this goes in a plastic cup and in the machine with the clothes too. Powder goes in the dispenser. Fabric softener is not strictly necessary.

Bio detergent is good for cleaning dirty, stained clothes. Non-bio is better if you have sensitive skin.

Don’t overload the washing machine. ¾ full is enough.

6. Temperature and time
There are now many programmes on a washing machine from eco to cotton. Try to choose the one most suitable for the items you are washing. In general allow at least 1½ hours per cycle, hot washes will be longer.

For delicate items, machines often have a handwash programme to save you having to do it by hand yourself.

As a general rule you can wash most things at 40oc and not go wrong but woolen and delicate items will need a cooler wash at 30oc.

30oc is also more economical and the recommended temperature now on many everyday garments. Always check the label until you get the hang of things.

Sheets and towels should be washed in a hotter wash, 60oc preferably.

New jeans or similar items with a dark colour may well run at first so wash separately or with similar coloured items for the first few washes.

Make sure the clothes get a good spin or they will come out sopping and take ages to dry.

6. Drying
Hang clean clothes up as soon as they are finished in the washing machine. Ideally in the fresh air or in a space where they can dry and air easily. Remember that some things may shrink in a tumble dryer.

Then of course there is the ironing!