The Complete Laundry Guide
Keeping our clothes clean is an essential part of everyday life, but we rarely think about how we’re doing it until we’re standing in front of the washing machine and wondering which cycle to choose. From choosing your laundry detergent to deciding how your clothes should be dried, your choices can impact the lifespan of your clothes, and your well-being and health. This guide to laundry will assist you with using your washing machine optimally, choosing the right detergent, and keeping your clothes in good condition.
Dry cleaning vs laundry cleaning
Some clothes come with a dry-clean-only tag, so what does dry cleaning mean? The dry-cleaning process uses chemical solvents to wash your suit, coat, or other clothing items. Instead of water and detergent, the dry cleaner will apply a chemical to lift stains and grease. The clothes may then be loaded into a machine and tumbled with chemical solvents, to loosen grime and stains before being drained and rinsed with fresh solvent.
Afterwards, the clothes may be spot checked again for any remaining stains, which may then be removed by hand. Finally, the dry cleaner will give your clothes a steam or press to smooth out any wrinkles. Dry cleaning is usually a professional job and so you’ll need to get your clothes dry cleaned at a store rather than do it at home.
In contrast, laundry cleaning means clothing is immersed in water with laundry detergent and possibly fabric softeners to remove dirt. The clothes may then be hung out to dry or dried in a machine dryer. You can have your clothes professionally cleaned or do your own laundry.
Dry cleaning is essential for types of fabrics that are delicate. These fabrics might be prone to shrinking and can’t be washed in a washing machine. Manufacturers might also recommend dry cleaning to avoid discolouration and improve the lifespan of clothes. However, dry cleaning uses harsh chemical solvents that can leave an odour and be irritating to people who are chemically sensitive.
How to use your washing machine correctly
The washing machine is one of the most underrated appliances in the household, helping us avoid the intensive work of washing our clothes by hand. Using your machine correctly saves you on energy costs, water usage, and ensures you get the best results from every wash, helping your clothes last longer.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
Refer to the operation manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to choosing the right washing cycle. Your washing machine will likely have a number of different washing cycles, such as for delicates, regular loads, and tumble dry. Get to know each one so you can make the right choice with each laundry load.
Use cold water
Around 90% of the energy used to power your washing cycle is used for heating the water. Switch to cold water to save energy and money.
Do an extra rinse
After a load has been washed, make use of the extra rinse setting where necessary if you’ve used too much detergent and your clothes have some residue on them. You’ll probably want to use the extra rinse cycle especially when you’re doing your baby’s clothes, washing bedding, and laundering napkins and towels. Make sure to follow your laundry detergent dosage instruction.
If you must use bleach, choose a non-chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide is better than chlorine bleach, which can be irritating for the skin and eyes. It’s also easier on the environment.
Choose natural detergents, such as plant-based and chemical-free products, rather than traditional detergents. These natural products are usually free of harsh dyes, synthetic fragrance, optical brightener, and chlorine bleach. They’re formulated using biodegradable surfactants so they’ll give you a cleaner wash even in cold water.
Wait for a full load
Wait for a full load before you press the wash button. By running full loads, you’ll save on both water and electricity, and help out the environment as well.
Washing baby clothes
Leaks, milk stains, and split-ups mean your baby’s laundry might need extra attention. At the same time, you’ll want to make sure your laundry detergent won’t irritate gentle baby skin. Whether it’s cotton or by hand, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning your baby’s clothes. This will help the clothing last longer while ensuring a thorough clean. Remember, softener has ingredients or polymers that may irritate the baby skin. By using bio-home delicate laundry detergent, you will not need to use softener.
How much laundry detergent should you use?
Wetend to use too much detergent when it comes to doing our laundry, so how much should we be using? Top of mind for many households is probably achieving a clean wash while avoiding having excess detergent not rinsed off properly, and balancing other considerations like waste and environmental factors.
Why is too much laundry detergent a bad thing?
The more detergent you use, the cleaner your clothes will be is a common misconception among consumers. However, the truth is, the more detergent you use, the harder it will be to achieve a clean rinse. The last thing you want is to have freshly laundered clothing that still holds residue of your laundry detergent, or worse, has detergent stains. This detergent residue can be transferred to skin when you put on your clothes and it can have an irritating effect.
Detergent residue could attract more dirt, leave lasting stains, compromise colour, and ruin clothing. Residual detergent can also damage your washing machine by leading to mould and reacting with other products you use, such as fabric softener.
Using the right amount of detergent
Follow the detergent manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to using detergent as well as using these rules as a general guide:
- Clothing – Check your laundry load. If you’ve spent days working in the garden and been exposed to soil and dust, you might need to use a little bit more.
- Water – The more water you’re using (in your choice of wash cycle), the more detergent you might need. For a low-water, economical wash cycle, use less detergent.
Choosing the right laundry detergent
Today’s consumers tend to be environmentally conscious about the household products they use, and plant-based, naturally formulated laundry detergents tend to be kinder on the environment. If you have sensitive skin, these types of natural laundry detergents could be the better choice for you and your family.
Using harsh, chemical-based detergent products can activate or contribute to eczema, dermatitis, itchy eyes, and respiratory issues. These products often feature synthetic dyes, fragrances, and enzymes that irritate the skin, eyes, and nose. If you notice your symptoms arise after putting on some freshly laundered clothes, you might want to switch to naturally formulated detergents.
To reduce the risk of irritation and create a healthier household, use bio-home laundry detergent; it’s hypoallergenic, non-toxic comes in a pleasing phthalate-free fragrance of Hyacinth and Nectarine. You can find high quality, effective laundry detergents that are designed for sensitive skin. Liquid detergents tend to create less residue than powdered detergent, and fabric softeners can help make clothes less irritating on the skin.
Laundering baby clothing
If you have a baby in the household, you’ll need to take extra care to protect your baby’s skin. Baby skin is sensitive and tender until they’re around 12 months of age, so look for a hypoallergenic, plant-based detergent without dyes and harsh fragrance and enzymes. Make sure your detergent is pH neutral and that it’s free of other chemicals like phenols, optical brighteners, and bleach, which can irritate the skin and lead to other health issues.
Understanding washing symbols
Always check the washing symbols on your clothing labels, as this will help increase the lifespan of your clothes while making sure you’re washing them correctly.
- Cotton wash – This symbol of a washing tub filled halfway with water comes with a number in the tub, which is the maximum temperature the clothing item can be washed at.
- Synthetic wash – This symbol of a washing tub filled with water, with a single bar underneath means the item should be washed using a mild treatment or medium wash.
- Wool wash – This symbol of a washing tub filled with water, and with two bars underneath means the item should be washed using a very mild treatment or delicate washing conditions.
- Hand wash – This symbol of a washing tub with a hand inside indicates that the item should be washed with care only by hand and at temperatures not exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.
- No washing – This symbol of a washing tub with a large cross overlaying it means the item should never be washed.
It’s also important to get to know the symbols relating to drying, ironing, use of bleach, and dry cleaning so you can make the correct choice about these.
Drying your laundry
Of course, your clothes need to be dried after each wash. You can either air dry your clothes (indoors or outdoors) or tumble dry if you have a dryer.
Not all clothes can be tumble dried. Look for the circle-within-a-square symbol, which means it’s okay to dry your clothes in the dryer. If your clothing item has the same symbol crossed out, you shouldn’t tumble dry the item as it could damage the material.
If your clothes are too wet before going into the dryer, try an extra spin cycle in your washing machine, where available, to shake off excess water. Your tumble dryer will likely have a temperature setting, whether it’s high, medium, or low. Select the right one for your clothes. If you’re worried the high tumble dry might be too hot for the fabrics, opt for a low-temperature tumble dry cycle. At the end of the cycle, check your clothes to ensure they’re dry. If there’s some moisture left, dry the load by running another cycle.
Anything with the no-tumble-dry symbol on it should not be tumble dried but air dried instead. Whether it’s on the washing line, indoors, or on a clothing rack, air drying is suitable for delicates like bras, wool jumpers, and silks.
It’s easy to take clean clothes for granted, but it’s clear a well-laundered load of clothing in good condition takes a little bit of practical know-how. Going natural and green is the best way to save on your utilities while doing your part for the environment. By choosing natural yet effective laundry products, you’ll be supporting your family’s good health while achieving the best washing outcomes.
Bio-home is a leading provider of eco-friendly and biodegradable natural laundry detergent and delicate laundry cleaning products. Find out more about our all-natural cleaning products here and check out our blog for more news and tips on keeping your clothes clean naturally.