Do you know how to do laundry? Even for the domestic goddess, it's all too easy to get lazy when it comes to taking care of our clothes, which can cost us in the long run.
We've created this easy-to-follow guide to help you clean everything you own. You might be surprised by what you learn!
You might want to pause before you throw your first load in the machine. There are a few checks you need to do first.
1. Check the labels carefully
It might seem like a chore, but always check the labels on your clothes at least once. Your clothes may have hidden materials unbeknown to you that'll dramatically alter the way you clean them.
Linen garments may shrink in the wash, so it's worth checking the composition.
TOP TIP: Mark your labels with different coloured permanent markers to remind you how it needs washing. You can draw up a colour key and stick it to the side of your washing machine for easy reference.
2. Your easy-to-understand guide to labels:
When it comes to laundry symbols, sometimes it can feel like you're reading hieroglyphs. Our handy guide will help you get it right.
- The machine wash symbol refers to the temperature that should be used to wash the piece. If the symbol contains one dot you should wash with cold water, two means warm, and three dots indicate a hot cycle.
- If there is an X over the symbol, don't machine wash. Only hand wash or take it to your nearest dry cleaners. Read our guide to find out how to hand wash viscose.
- The bleach symbol notifies you whether or not you should use chlorine bleach. If it's a plain white triangle, proceed with caution, but if there is an X over it then avoid it completely.
- The tumble dry symbol means just that. You should dry clean only, and if you see the big X then turn to the washing machine.
- The tumble dry symbol refers to drying methods. A white circle means you can use any heat, one dot indicates you can use a low drying heat, two dots means normal temperature, and three dots allows you to use a high one.
- The iron symbols identify whether you can iron your item. A cross indicates no and a single dot means a gentle heat and the more dots the higher the heat.
4. Separate and group
Separate your laundry into whites, lights, darks and delicates. You can pick up a laundry mesh or netted bag from most pound-land, IKEA, Robert Dyas, and Tiger stores. Pop your delicates in them and they'll be kept separate from the rest of the load.
Where possible, wash items of similar weight together so t-shirts and pyjamas in with delicates and heavier items like towels and jeans together.
5. Last-minute check
Make sure you empty out all the pockets, close zippers to prevent any snagging, and turn your denim and embellished items inside out.
If time allows for it, it's always best to button up your shirts and cardigans to stop the buttons from being bashed about.
How to wash Denim correctly
It can take a lifetime to find the perfect pair of jeans so, when we do, we tend to wear them for years and years. Make sure you keep them looking as good as possible by washing them the right way.
Check out these tips to avoid stretch, scuffs and worn out patches:
1. Don't overwash
To start with, make your denim last longer by avoiding over-washing. If they're good quality denim, they should last you for up to 10 years. Wash every ten wears and spray with a fabric freshener in-between washes.
2. Can you tumble dry jeans?
Avoid tumble drying too much, the dryer can sap colour, cause shrinkage and break down the fibres in your jeans - making any frays or holes worse. Dry naturally on a rack in the sun or by a radiator.
But if you want your over-stretched jeans to tighten up a bit then let them air dry to about 80% then pop them into the dryer on high heat - they should ping back into shape.
3. Stop colour fade
Turn them inside out before washing - especially with darker hues - to prevent the colour from fading. The tumbling motion is quite aggressive and can strip out dyes. If your lighter jeans have faded and you want to darken them up again, just pop them in with your darker pairs and they should darken from the loose dye.
Hand washing in cold water will help retain their shape and colour, but if you don't have time a gentle cool cycle will do.
Wash delicate bras safely
Due to the delicate material and awkward shape of bras, they need extra care when washing. In an ideal world, they would be hand washed in lukewarm water with just a splash of laundry detergent.
TOP TIP: If you don't have time to hand wash then make sure you invest in that mesh laundry bag to protect your bras from other items in the drum.
Follow these easy instructions for machine washing safely:
1. Close any clasps before washing to prevent catching on other items.
2. Pop bras in a mesh bag to prevent snagging.
3. Add in any other similar items to the wash like vests, pyjamas, and socks.
4. Wash on the baby cycle.
5. Reshape bras as soon as they come out of the wash and air dry them flat. If the straps aren't too delicate you can hang them up with pegs.
Clean your leather items at home
Leather should be kept out of direct sunlight and cleaned regularly. Don't wait for a stain to appear or for it to get too grubby before cleaning. Cleaning your leather regularly will help keep them in tip-top condition. Try these tips and tricks before turning to the professionals.
1. Use a cloth
To give leather a routine clean use a soft or micro-fibre cloth to dust the surface and lightly buff the leather. Them tale a damp cloth, wipe it across a moisturising soap and lightly lather the leather. Don't rinse off, just buff until smooth and dry.
2. Use baby wipes
For stain removal and spot cleaning, baby wipes work wonders on leather jackets. Before you spend a fortune on professional cleaning, always run a baby wipe over the area to see whether it can lift off the stain. You'll be surprised how well this can work, but just be wary of bright stains as rubbing could discolour your item.
Before trying anything, make sure you test an area on the inside to make sure it doesn't darken or aggravate the leather.
3. Leather cleaning sprays
If this doesn't work, it's time to hit the shops and buy a leather stain removal spray. Non-water based leather cleaning products can remove most stains so make sure you read the instructions carefully. Avoid using rough cloths or sponges that could scratch softer leathers.
4. Clean leather with olive oil
You can also clean and ‘feed’ a tired looking leather jacket with olive oil. Just dip a soft cloth into olive oil – or any other vegetable oil – and gently rub it into the stain or dirt mark. Continue rubbing until the mark lifts off then apply a small amount of white vinegar with a different clean soft cloth. Leave to dry and in the meantime mix equal parts of white vinegar and olive oil. Use another similar cloth and rub this solution over the leather then polish with a clean cloth. The area should look clean and like new again.
5. Hand wash
If all else fails, go back to hand washing. Fashion editors and stylists swear by this trick so if you’re feeling brave then it’s worth a go! Soak your leather in warm water until it’s completely saturated, then take a cloth and start buffing the leather in the water. Leave to dry and your leather should be left cleaner with a slightly matte finish.
Be kind to cashmere and knitwear
They can last a lifetime if cared for correctly.
1. Hand wash only
Only ever hand wash your fragile cashmere. Fill a basin with cold water and add a few drops of baby shampoo before gently lathering.
2. Handle carefully
When you're ready to take it out of the water, keep the item in a ball otherwise the weight of the water will stretch the material as you lift it out.
Place on a towel and roll to remove excess water then lay flat to air dry. Never peg your cashmere or knitwear by the shoulders as they will stretch.
4. What about wool?
You can also wash your delicate wool items in the same way but remember wool - unlike cotton and man-made materials - does not need frequent washing.
Don't assume it needs cleaning after a few wears - regular spot cleaning and airing will help items last longer and retain their shape and size.
If you do machine wash your woolens, leave to soak in cold water for a few hours to prevent any shrinkage and wash on a baby cycle.
Wash silk with white vinegar
Silk can be tricky, so handle with caution.
Always hand wash silk items to keep the delicate material in good condition. Use lukewarm water with just a few drops of detergent, soak for five minutes and gently wash. When rinsing, add two to three tablespoons of white vinegar to remove any traces of detergent and restore the shine in your silk.
Never wring your silk items out as this will stretch and distort the fabric. Instead, like your woollens - lay it out on a towel and roll up. Air dry flat to finish!
Wash and dry swimwear with care
Rule number 1: never wring!
Like that perfect pair of jeans, your dream swimsuit can take a lifetime to find so when you have found 'the one' make sure you take care of it.
After you've worn your swimsuit, make sure you rinse it out with cold water to get rid of any sun cream, sand or chlorine. Fill your basin with cool water and a tablespoon of detergent then swish your swimsuit around in one direction.
Never ever wring your swimsuit - no matter how tempting it is! You'll stretch it out and damage the elastic fibres in the fabric.
The same goes for those drying machines found in most changing rooms. Don't be tempted to use them, they may look convenient but they'll completely stretch and damage your swimsuit.
It's also worth noting that the sun can fade the colour so always leave it to dry in the shade or indoors.
Clean hats with care
Do you know how to clean hats? It's one of those jobs we all put off, but your baseball caps lock in more sweat and grime than you might think. Depending on the type of hat and the fabric its made from, the instructions will vary.
We always recommend checking the label first. Read our guide and learn how to clean sweat-stained caps now.
Build a routine
Now that you know how to wash everything in your wardrobe, keep a consistent routine to make sure you stay on top of the laundry pile. You might find it helpful to pick one or two days to dedicate to this chore. That said, if you're superstitious, you should find out what day can you not wash clothes to avoid bad luck!
Next up, learn how to deal with mishaps like getting butter out of clothes or chocolate stains . Now that you know how to do laundry, let's give some DIY a try. Learn how to disconnect a washing machine in our easy guide.
Thanks for reading! Do you have tips or advice on how to wash clothes?
Please let us know in the comments section below.