People often make the mistakes of not pre-treating laundry. This is particularly important with more severe stains which should be treated immediately. Stains left for a period of time on linen require more abrasive action to shift the residual marks which in turn can damage the fibres.
Linen washes well at low temperatures thus conserving energy. Light and dark clothes should be separated into two lots and washed separately. It is essential to load the machine as per the manufacturers’ instructions. Too few clothes in the machine and there is reduced friction between the clothes and the drum, resulting in a poor wash cycle.
Of course, linen can easily be washed by hand. So when travelling this makes it ideal as it also dries quickly. To speed up drying, roll in a towel after washing and squeeze firmly to absorb excess moisture before hanging up to dry.
Hang it in the bathroom and it will dry overnight. In addition, the steam created when you shower will help the creases fall out.
There is usually no need to wash linen every time it is worn but hang in an airy place and allow it to ‘breathe’. This is obviously less harmful to the environment than using detergents.
Never dry linen in a tumbler drier. It is best line dried or laid flat to dry. Some like to wear linen with a slightly creased finish but if you prefer a smooth finish then iron or steam when damp. Alternatively, if it is completely dry, spray with cold water.
Only use the recommended amount of washing detergent per load. Overuse of suds means they are hard to rinse off the clothes leaving a residual smell and an unpleasant handle to the material. It is actually the spin cycle, water temperature and friction between drum and fabric which washes the clothes more than washing products.
The general rule of thumb for detergents is: the fewer ingredients, the better! Chemical ingredients in washing products can be quite extensive depending on the selected brand.
A typical detergent will include a number of the following:
- SURFACTANTS – one part of the chemical compound is attracted to water and repels oil whilst the other part does the complete opposite.
- BUILDERS– including phosphates and zeolites, these chemicals soften the water.
- ANTIREDEPOSITION AGENTS– these are used to minimise re-deposition of dirt that has already been removed by washing.
- CORROSION INHIBITOR – An ingredient which protects against the corrosion of appliance surfaces.
- BLEACH!- a powder produced from borax and hydrogen peroxide. It should never be used on linen so check the ingredients on the box.
- PHOSPHONATE– delays the decomposition of the oxygen bleach where used, until the appropriate stage in the laundry programme.
- ENZYMES, FRAGRANCES and PRESERVATIVES are also used in the laundering process.
Our skin absorbs substances it comes into contact with such as, the residue from washing powder left in the fabric. Detergents can also affect breathing especially for those with respiratory conditions. Some detergents also contain chemicals which irritate the mucous membranes, or affect the liver or nervous system. In additions, fragrances and preservatives can trigger skin allergies.
There is nothing so comfortable as freshly laundered linen on a hot sunny day.