Behind every working woman is an enormous pile of unwashed laundry

“Behind every working woman is an enormous pile of unwashed laundry” – Barbara Dale

I think we can all relate to that.  Whether a working woman (9-5 sense) or a full time Mum/Housewife (24hr sense).  Laundry seems to be a never-ending, thankless task.  I want it over in a jiffy, but get annoyed that it’s never completed or that items just aren’t as clean as I’d like them to be.  Trying to be money conscious, I don’t want to just throw things out either or spend loads of money on chemical cleaners – surely there are better ways to get whites white.

And I want white whites.

Image from: http://www.homebunch.com
White is on trend, which makes me happy.
One day I hope to finally own a set of French Vintage Linen for my shabby chic bed and have a room not too dissimilar to this. Pure Tranquility.

I want the ironing pile to only be that week’s laundry.  I want fresh smelling linen.  I want crisp sheets.  It may be impossible in the time I have week-to-week, and sometimes I have all the best intentions but frankly I just can’t be bothered – yet still, it’s one of the sad objectives I have as a humble housewife. . . (is it sad?  Am I just a little bit too demanding, on myself?)

So, if you’re like me, here are some tried and tested tips for succeeding in getting better quality laundry and making the task more rewarding (well a little)

Ironing

I can hear the groans as the thought of the ironing pile which now has snowy peaks and billy goats jumping from shirt to pillowcase crosses your mind. But ladies you know it’s inevitable as your wardrobe empties and the husband moans he has no shirts for work.

“If I don’t do laundry today, I’m gonna have to buy new clothes tomorrow.” – Anna Paquin

Now some people iron as they go. Personally I hate that. I like my wardrobe to be full. I feel a quiet sense of satisfaction when the ironing basket is empty – which has never happened! But I do my ironing in bulk. Stick on a good film and just get cracking until your feet and back hurt too much to continue!

But bar the film there must be more ways to make this time-consuming task a little bit nicer. And I think I’ve found it.

Essential oils!

Find a scent that pleases you most and spray it, diluted in water, on your clothes as you go. Jasmine is really pretty. Or vanilla.  It just makes the chore seem so much more pleasurable.

Ironing bed linen and starch

Iron your linens while they are damp, ideally (but I know that’s not always possible).

When it`s time to iron, I use steam on the cotton or linen setting. I don`t spray my linens as I iron because it can scorch them. Spray starch is a nice finishing touch. But, not that I’ve experienced this, but apparently, do not store starched linens because bugs love them!

Recently some people called me insane for ironing linen.  But imagine the feeling of getting into a hotel room bed, but at home.  That’s how it feels.  I know this is one little extra job that I do that my husband really appreciates on a Sunday night.  It sets you up for the following week at work.  Hmmmm, lovely!

Disappointed . . .

Ummmm . . . that’s it.  I’ve discovered there are no other ways of making ironing more exciting.  Yawn.  It’s just a laborous task and there is no way around it.  Yes, I’m as disappointed as you are, but I’m guessing you probably already knew this and just think me silly for even being optimistic enough to think that there may be a way of making it more bearable.

White Whites

Apart from that. I think there is nothing better than getting into a freshly made bed of crisp white bed linen. But I’m clearly doing something wrong.  And I keep thinking, how do they do it at hotels?  Apart from the ironing?  The starch?  Our bed linen smells nice but I don’t think its white as it should be and certainly not crisp (well that’s probably the starch!). The pillow cases in particular are yellowing badly.

I think I may have found the remedy.  BORAX.

It’s taken me forever to find a reasonably priced supplier.  In the end I found a chemical distributor!  Sounds drastic.  But Borax just isn’t readily available like it used to be.  I have bought a sample of 250g to start with, just to test the theory.  It was only £3.30 including postage from http://www.intralabs.co.uk/.

They recommend using a dust mask when you use any cleaning powders. You can buy little masks just about anywhere. The dust from Borax and Oxiclean (or any cleaning powder) can apparently irritate your lungs.

So, I have read that Borax will remove light discolorations and brighten and it`s a great water softener.

Put the items in a sink or clean bucket, add a quarter cup of Borax to two gallons of hot, not boiling water. If you think your fabric will shrink, don`t put it in hot water. You have to stir this till the Borax is all dissolved. Don’t put the powder directly on your fabric as it could “burn” holes if it dries. Check every hour or so. When clean, wash as usual.

I have also read that adding approximately one cup of borax to your wash will whiten whites. But I am not convinced. Also, I only tried at 40c. So maybe it wasn’t hot enough? Will try it again.

White Vinegar and Water.
You can use vinegar and water on linens that are browning, are stained and damp smelling or look like they need a brightening.

Check to see if your fabrics are colorfast. Put the material on a white towel and dab the colors in an inconspicuous area with a white cloth and cool water. If the dyes run, you can see color on the towel, your item is not colorfast. If your water is rusty or has little particles in it, I recommend that you use bottled or distilled water to soak your linens. The minerals can stain your fabric.

Soak your linens in about two gallons of cool water with one cup of white vinegar. You can soak more than one thing at a time as long as you can freely slosh it around. Usually the water will turn yellow in short order. Sometimes you have to let things sit for a few hours checking the progress every hour or so. When the discoloration is gone, rinse well in clear water and hand wash in your favorite detergent, rinse again and hang or lay flat to dry. If the discoloration persists you can move on to the next step.

Before (right) and after (left)
How white are your whites!?!

Simple
I’m also starting to think that this being energy efficient lark is ruining my linen. I mostly launder clothes at 30-40c on the economy style cycles. I use the right amount of detergent I’m pretty sure and am very careful sorting whites from colours. But whites are still yellow. So what about ignoring the green people?

I’ve resorted to washing at 60c on the full cotton cycle which takes 2.5hrs. My bed linen is 100% cotton so there should be no shrinkage. I’ve also added a brightening sachet. And finally, it’s down the sun. The sun bleaches whites beautifully – but we really haven’t had much for that recently (which is why it’s taken me three months to write this entry).  Look at the beautiful before/after results above.

I’m [almost] satisfied!

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