Yet another wash day! The kids have piled their clothes in the wash basket and I’m sure half of them haven’t even been worn, my partner’s undies are strewn around the floor and, on top of that, it’s ‘change-the-sheets-and-towels-day’ … Great!
Three days of washing as I fly out of the door on the school run and then to work … or, actually, maybe I’ll sneak off to the laundry…
So here we go with some of my tips to help with those irritating issues that happen with bedding and towels on wash day – whether you launder at home or dash to a commercial laundry like me.
Rule 1 – Laundering depends on the type of material
Wash on hot: When washing towels and sheets, use a long, hot wash cycle. They need a hot wash as your skin cells have been all over them. Contrarily, a regular setting is fine for clothes, unless your son has been doing flying tackles across the lawn again …
Sheets and towels are different: Don’t wash them together because they are very different materials. Towels are sturdy and made to take abuse, and unless sheets are hotel quality and can wash at 60º, they’ll be more delicate. Towels and sheets also have different drying rates due to the fabric weight; sheets usually take around 30 minutes to dry, while towels can take up to an hour depending on whether you use a tumble dryer or hang them outdoors.
Fabric bobbling: The ratios of each fabric vary. Polycotton, with 50% cotton, 50% polyester, is a particularly popular combination, but as it’s made from a synthetic material, it has a tendency of pilling where small ‘bobbles’ (balls of material) form on the fabric surface, making sheets feel rougher as time goes on. Overcome this by purchasing percale next time – a quality polycotton which has over 180 thread count and always feels great as you slide into the sheets at the end of the day.
Laundry coming out stiff: The most likely problem is adding the wrong amount of detergent. Follow the instructions below for best results:
- If too little detergent is used, there may be insufficient active ingredients to combat the hardness of the water, which, in turn, can affect the softness of the fibres.
- Using too much detergent can result in concentrated detergent being left on the fibres, making them feel coarse.
- Make sure that the washing machine is not overloaded – especially with heavy cotton garments such as towels, which absorb a lot of water.
- Tumble-drying items such as towels helps, as this process separates the fibres, making them feel fluffy and soft.
- To give your sheets the best chance of retaining their quality, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- When ironing cotton or linen, if you are having trouble with creases, use steam and turn the temperature down – amazing but true!
Care of bedding: Both cotton and polycotton bed sheets are very low maintenance when it comes to washing and drying. Both types of fabric can be washed on warm and hot cycles in your washing machine and dried in a tumble dryer. It seems simple, but there’s always uncertainty.
Care of towels: Always be sure to wash new towels before you use them. This removes the silicone coating on them from the factory, which greatly reduces their absorbency. I know how frustrating it is to dry yourself with a new towel and all you do is redistribute the water around your body – ugh!
- Separate colours – how many times have you forgotten, and everything comes out in a peculiar shade of mallard?
- Don’t overload the washing machine – Towels absorb a lot of water, and make sure that the load is even to avoid that ‘thrumming’ sound, or worse, the machine dancing across the utility room floor!
- Use less detergent – too much can cause stiff towels.
- Add bleach if you need to – bleach works well to remove stains and get towels clean. Use chlorine or non-chlorine bleach for whites and colour-safe bleach for colours – available at all major stores.
- Washing machine cycle – The ‘regular or normal cycle’ is best. It’s a bit longer but it works best for getting towels clean. The faster spin and longer washing time helps to remove dirt and bacteria from the fibres.
- Tumble drying, or air drying? – In the dryer, use the regular or automatic cycle to maximise fluffiness, over-drying can damage delicate fibres. If you air-dry towels, lay them flat on a drying rack inside or hang them outdoors on a clothesline. The trick is not to leave them outside all day or they will be like a board when you bring them in.
And, finally, Rule 2 …
If you’re doing it yourself at home, try to get the family on board. Any amount of help hanging 30 pairs of socks is not to be sniffed at, and folding the sheets so that they fit on the line has always been a prerequisite in my books!
Happy wash day!
By Karen Love
By Karen Love
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