Cutting energy bills, making your clothes last longer… and how doing the laundry can help wash your worries away: Britain’s first ‘laundry influencer’ shares her tips
- Laura Mountford shares her top tips for everything from stains to special care
- The laundry ‘cleanfluencer’ also shares her hacks for the fluffiest towels
- READ MORE: Mrs Hinch reveals she’s going through ‘personal life stumbles’
Laundry isn’t something many people get excited about, so when I started sharing home-cleaning videos on social media, I couldn’t possibly have predicted how much interest it would generate.
But in the past couple of years my super-fluffy towel technique and deep-clean reels have, at times, reached more than 8.5 million people.
I’ve now joined the happy band of ‘cleanfluencers’ with 556,000 followers on Instagram and more than 200,000 on TikTok.
I confess I find doing the laundry therapeutic — I treat it like an extension of my self-care routine. Some women might relish the idea of a soak in the bath with oils and skincare products, but I love nothing more than to delve into my laundry cupboard and pick out a selection of products that will make my clothes and bedding feel and smell divine.
One bonus of this is that you can make items last longer. I am increasingly conscious of how I treat my clothes, and the way they are laundered really affects how long they last.
Laura Mountford (pictured) shares her top tips for everything from stains to special care of fabrics
When it comes to saving money and saving the planet, small changes can make a big difference. When most of the electricity used in your washing machine cycle is to heat the water, it’s good to know you can shrink energy usage by reducing the temperature of your wash cycles.
There’s no need to rely on a hot wash (a 60c load can cost around 31p, compared with 20p for a 40c wash). Most modern detergents will wash everyday fabrics effectively at temperatures as low as 20c and biological detergents actually work more efficiently at lower temperatures.
OLD TRAINERS LIKE NEW
- Remove laces. Pre-soak shoes in a washing-up bowl with warm water and an oxi whitening powder.
- Rinse the shoes under a cold tap and wipe. Use a toothbrush to remove any dirt and a cotton bud or cocktail stick to get rid of trapped debris.
- Put the shoes and laces in a pillowcase and add towels to the drum to avoid damaging the shoes or your machine (don’t try to machine-wash anything leather or suede).
- Use a normal laundry detergent on a cool wash cycle.
- Allow shoes to dry naturally, ideally outdoors.
Find the energy-saving and eco-mode functions on your machine — the programmes may take a little longer because they heat the water more slowly (and more economically).
But unless you have a heavily soiled wash load or a sickness bug in the house, there is no need to crank up the temperature. Even then, most conundrums can be sorted by spritzing with a stain remover first or adding oxi powder to the wash instead.
MY FAVOURITE LAUNDRY KIT
Some girls have handbags and shoes . . . I love collecting laundry products — especially those that maximise the efficiency of my washing regimen.
Antibacterial add-in products designed to kill bacteria and viruses in the wash can be used with detergent (pour into the fabric conditioner section of the drawer) to get a hot wash effect at lower temperatures.
Oxi stain remover
Oxi powders and sprays release active oxygen to lift stains and odours even at low washing temperatures. Unlike bleach, they do not contain chlorine. Oxi powders can be made into a stain-removing paste or can be put directly into the drum or in the drawer along with your detergent (always add some to a white wash).
Ace For Whites stain remover spray
My favourite spray for getting rid of stains works on laundry and white surfaces, too. I spritz it on white socks and leave for a few minutes before putting them in the machine. It brings them up like new.
Oxi powders and sprays release active oxygen to lift stains and odours even at low washing temperatures. Stock image used
These small sheets contain extra-absorbent fibres that attract loose dye and dirt in the washing water, stopping colours from running, so you can put your colours and whites in together (saving you time, energy and water).
Eco-friendly laundry bars can be used dry by directly rubbing onto fabrics to pre-treat stains, or used to hand-wash delicates with warm water. Use a cheese grater to create soap shavings which can be added directly into the machine or dissolved in warm water to create liquid laundry soap.
Laura, pictured, has joined a happy band of ‘cleanfluencers’ with 556,000 followers on Instagram and more than 200,000 on TikTok
Laura says that in the past couple of years her super-fluffy towel technique and deep-clean reels have, at times, reached more than 8.5 million people
A fantastic natural product that can be used to reduce odours, whiten and brighten fabrics, remove deodorant stains, soften fabrics and reduce lint and pet hair. Add a cupful to the fabric conditioner section of your washer drawer before putting on the wash (so it is released into the drum on the final rinse cycle).
It is more effective than fabric conditioner on towels and microfibre cloths (distilled vinegar costs about 40p for 500ml, but my favourite is Cillit Bang white vinegar with eucalyptus, which doesn’t smell as much like a chip shop as other vinegars).
Many natural laundry products have no scent but adding a few drops of essential oil to your detergent can give a scent boost — or add to a damp cloth in your tumble dryer to infuse the fabrics as they dry.
It’s worth buying ‘baking soda’ or bicarbonate of soda in bulk (£2.49 for 500g at Robert Dyas) for its fantastic water-softening and stain-removal qualities, which work even at cooler temperatures. Add a tablespoon to your detergent with each wash.
TIP: Add an extra spin to your wash cycle to maximise energy efficiency when it comes to drying time.
Laura, pictured, says that any natural laundry products have no scent but adding a few drops of essential oil to your detergent can give a scent boost
SPECIAL CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Extend the life of your favourite items (and save money) by washing them only when necessary, and carefully following instructions.
SILK: If a garment label says ‘dry clean’ (but not ‘dry clean only’), it can be hand-washed in cool water using a liquid detergent suitable for delicates. Wash for a few minutes, rinse, then carefully squeeze dry (don’t wring). Lay out flat on a towel to dry.
WOOL: Check the care label, but most items can be machine-washed with a delicate detergent and fabric conditioner on a cool, delicate wash cycle. Turn inside out to prevent piling and reshape with your hands straight out of the machine (do not wring, stretch or twist). Dry naturally by laying them flat on top of a fresh towel (no tumble drying).
SECRET TO THE FLUFFIEST OF TOWELS
If your towels have become stiff and crunchy, it’s likely they have a build-up of limescale residue and product. Try soaking them in a mixture of baking soda and warm water overnight, rinse thoroughly, then wash as normal with half a cup of white vinegar in the fabric conditioner drawer to fluff up the pile. For the fluffiest towels, use the tumble dryer and add a dryer sheet for extra freshness.
SATIN: Use a cool hand-wash with a delicate detergent. Soak for up to 30 minutes and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Do not wring, twist or tumble dry but allow to dry in its natural shape, and use a gentle steamer to remove creases or iron using a protective cloth or tea towel.
DENIM: Pre-wash new dark denim items before the first wear to set the dye. Turn them inside out and wash on a cool setting with white vinegar (in the fabric conditioner compartment).
Thereafter, only wash denim when it’s stained or after multiple wears. Always turn inside out and use a cool 30c short delicate cycle (slow spin speed).
Dry by shaking before hanging (inside out) to remove creases, or tumble on a low setting, then remove while still slightly damp to reshape and finish drying on a hanger or lying the item flat.
LACE: Handwash or pop in a mesh bag to avoid snagging in a machine wash.
ULTIMATE STAIN REMOVAL GUIDE
Spot removal of stains could save clothes from the bin. Emergency action: before reaching for any chemicals, fill a bowl with hot water and a tablespoon of washing-up liquid and soak the item or dab the stain. If this doesn’t work, repeat using a cup of white vinegar in a bowl of warm water.
Blood: Best tackled quickly. First rinse the item or stain in cold water, then pour a biological liquid or gel detergent directly onto the stain or rub in a bicarb paste (two parts bicarbonate of soda with one part water). Then put straight in the washing machine without rinsing.
Chewing gum: Place ice cubes on the gum or put the item in the freezer, then scratch off the gum with a sharp knife.
Laura, pictured, says she finds laundry therapeutic in the same way one may feel about a skincare routine
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T WASH THE MACHINE?
Cleaning your machine once a month will prolong its life and ensure that it continues to work effectively.
1) Remove drawer and clean it in a bowl of hot soapy water.
2) Spray a bathroom cleaner or white vinegar behind the drawer to remove any mould and limescale. Leave for a few minutes, then wipe dry.
3) Clean and empty filter.
4) Clean rubber door seal with bathroom cleaner or white vinegar (not bleach, which can destroy the rubber) on a soft cloth.
5) Clean drum by pouring a packet of soda crystals into the drum. Add a cup of white vinegar into the drawer, then run the machine on a hot cycle.
TIP: Reduce growth of mould or bacteria by leaving the door and drawer open when the machine isn’t in use.
ADAPTED by LOUISE ATKINSON from Live, Laugh, Laundry: A Calming Guide To Keeping Your Clothes Clean — And You Happy, by Laura Mountford
Chocolate: Blot with biological detergent, then wash as normal.
Curry: Mix equal parts washing-up liquid and white vinegar in cold water. Apply solution to the stain with a clean cloth. Then machine-wash with an oxi powder and a biological detergent.
Fruit juice: Rinse with cold water, pre-treat with liquid detergent, then machine wash.
Grease: Pre-treat a greasy mark with washing up liquid (rubbed in neat with a clean cloth) before putting into machine with a biological detergent.
Ink: Place stain face down onto a paper towel and use a sponge to dab with hairspray or hand sanitiser (the ink should then transfer to the towel), then put in washing machine.
Lipstick: Remove as quickly as possible. Lay the item stain side- down on an old towel and blot liquid detergent on the reverse of the fabric, so the lipstick transfers to the cloth beneath. Don’t rub the stain directly as the oil and colour will seep in deeper. Once you have removed the worst of the stain, pop into washing machine with a bio detergent and oxi powder.
Make-up: Pre-treat with washing- up liquid or biological detergent and leave for 15 mins before scrubbing with a clean soft-bristled brush and rinsing in hot water, then popping in the washing machine with oxi powder.
Mould: Spritz or soak with a diluted white vinegar, then wash in machine with biological detergent and 1-2 cups of vinegar.
Nail polish: Allow to dry, scrape off any excess, then soak a microfibre cloth in nail polish remover and gently dab. Then pop in machine with oxi powder.
Paint: Soak in a mixture of half detergent and half warm water, blot the stain vigorously, then wash as normal in the machine. Next step for stubborn stains: nail polish remover applied with a clean toothbrush.
Red wine: Cover the stain in white vinegar, then rub in a liquid laundry detergent and machine wash on a warm cycle.
Suncream: Pre-treat in warm water and washing-up liquid for an hour, then put in machine with biological detergent.
Sweat stains: Spray generously with distilled white vinegar. Leave for at least ten minutes, then wash as normal.
Tea and coffee: Immediately rinse with cold water, then add a few drops of laundry detergent and gently rub before putting in machine with oxi powder and biological detergent.
Tomato sauce: Blot with cold water and a teaspoon of liquid detergent, then machine-wash.
Wax: Allow to dry, scrape off excess. Place item under a paper towel and iron over it so the wax is absorbed into the towel.
ADAPTED by LOUISE ATKINSON from Live, Laugh, Laundry: A Calming Guide To Keeping Your Clothes Clean — And You Happy, by Laura Mountford (Ebury, £16.99), published April 13. © Laura Mountford. To order a copy for £15.29 (valid to 24/04/23; UK P&P free on orders over £20), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.
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