Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Laundry Day

The other day I talked about cleaning tips for the home, and I mentioned how much I love my dryer. As this blog is also a diary that I hope my kids will read one day (soon Harry, soon), I aim to do the occasional post on everyday living, as well, so I wanted to continue with some tips on doing laundry.
Laundry rocks! source
Everyone’s definition of “dirty” is different, but really neither our clothes or our bodies benefit from fanatical scrubbing down with detergents. Modern “standards” for cleanliness are relatively new – basically in the last 50 years since the start of cheap mass clothing, modern washing machines and easy access to water .  One hundred years ago wash day was once a week, as was ironing day.  My mum still tells me of her days as a young wife in t he 60s using a ‘copper’, which required heating the water and clothes with a fire underneath, and both my grandmothers did their washing once a week ( in the most basic of machines)until their deaths in the 90s.   Today I do a fair bit of laundry in comparison, about a load a day, sometimes two, but then I have four school age children (with associated sheets, towels and clothes and I use table cloths and napkins). Everyone has their own level of comfort with dirt and smells and the need to wash their clothes and their own way of doing things.  I did start off as a bit of a clean freak when I was newly married and had only one child, but now I am of the school that if you can’t see dirt or smell sweat, it doesn’t need to be cleaned (this goes for everything but socks and undies, they need to be washed each day – and not left in mum’s car, right kids?).  Funny how I am going back to what my grandmothers did.
1910 ad source
In our hot, humid climate here in Queensland most tops need washing after a day in winter, or after a few hours in summer. Sometimes they can be aired out and dried and re-worn, especially if they are cotton with no polyester in them. In winter if a shirt is creased after a short wear I like to spray it with water and air dry or toss in the dryer for a few minutes. If I wear a jacket or cardigan at work I try and wear a shirt with short sleeves at least, to protect the underarms from sweat, and I air it out when I get home. It’s easier to wash a shirt than dry clean a jacket. I have found that letting my underarm deodorant dry before getting dressed stops staining, and I like to use a little powder with a puff (vintage of course) as well to make completely sure (I have found that unscented deo and scented powder makes clothes smell less bad than scented deo, but this may just be me!).

Pants, including jeans, and skirts first get a brush down with a clothes brush I found at the op shop (but a broom from a brush and shovel works too). Then if they need it they get the spot treatment – an old toothbrush and a bit of sunlight soap on the dirty area and then an airing. I have a hanging rail in my laundry where clothes can catch a little breeze. If jeans are clean but get too baggy I stick them in the dryer for about 10 minutes. Work pants and skirts and anything vintage gets hand-washed (actually my machine has a hand wash setting too) every 6 wears or so. Nothing gets put away dirty, as here it grows mould in a day.
Bras get hung up on a hook in the bathroom overnight to air out – if they smell in the morning they go into the wash, otherwise back in the drawer. I do keep meaning to hand wash them, as I know this is better for them (apparently in the shower is a good place), but I use a wash bag instead and wash my stockings with them too. But I do dry them without pegging, just pop them over the line. hanger or rack at the centre, so they don;t stretch and I NEVER put them in the dryer.  And let me tell you, underwires are really not good for washing or drying  machines if they get loose.   I am planning to get everyone their own mesh bag for socks too, as we seem to have a sock monster in our house that eats one of each pair.

I have three rules of separating laundry – darks together, whites together and towels together. I cannot stress this enough. If you have white towels and dark towels, do them separately too. Lots of things will say wash separately, but really if you are washing dark denim with other dark things, it doesn’t’ really matter. Fluffy bathmats, on the other hand, are best washed by themselves. Dark washing is best washed in cold water to prevent running.
I like to soak white washing, which includes my husbands’ business shirts and my daughters school t-shirt overnight on a Friday and wash Saturday morning. That way I can iron them straight from the line when they are still a little damp (this is when I get to watch an old movie without anyone whinging because I am doing a job). I usually soak in hot water with napisan (oxygen bleach), but I used bicarb soda the other day when I had run out, and it did a pretty good job. I have heard of using aspirin, but bicarb is really cheap and handy to keep in the laundry for cleaning the sink, and the kids won’t want to eat it.
1967 ad source
The benefits of only washing when you need to include:
· Having clothes that last longer;
· Having clothes that stay their true color for longer;
· Using less water, power and products – better for the environment (this is a great excuse/reason if you need one with your other half/girlfriends and you can buy recycled plastid pegs too);
· Doing less laundry (doh!);
· Having your machine last longer.
Although I do love my dryer, it has been sunny here the last few days so I have been air drying.  Air dried sheets smell so good! My hanging tips:
· Shake each item as you get it out the basket to remove some creases;
· Hang t-shirts with about 5 to 10 cm folded over the line to keep the hem straight;
· Pull things, like pant legs and sleeves straight;
· For time saving use one peg for the spot where two items meet;
· Hang dark washing, especially jeans, inside out, to keep the color longer;
· Use a rack for small items like socks and undies and get the kids to help hang up their things (move this undercover or inside at night instead of putting them in the dryer, as pant elastic does not like to go in the dryer;
· Dry knitwear flat over a rack, or use old stockings through the arms and pin the stockings.
Other tips = I also like to fold straight from the line as it stops things getting re- creased. I did have a table under the line to sort out, but now I have a couple of baskets. I only iron cotton shirts and table cloths. I always put the towels in the dryer for about 5 minutes to fluff them up.  If you want to feel really vintage use wooden dolly pegs (hard to find but craft shops sell them or check ebay, I bought mine at Sovereign Hill in the 90s.).  I used to use them when my eldest son was a baby, and would give them to him to hold (and suck on) – great for the pincer grip, and he couldn’t hurt himself.

Have a great(laundry) day
Deb xx


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