top tips and tricks for washing laundry

I’m generally a big fan of vinegar. Never use fabric softener on towels as this will make them less absorbent. It’s much better and cheaper (expect around £10 for a five liter bottle) to use a cup of distilled white vinegar in the dispenser drawer. It keeps them soft and the colors clear.

You can also use it more generally as a fabric softener as it brightens whites and helps banish pet, smoke and strong food odors without leaving an eau de chip shop scent. Keep some in a spray bottle to remove sweat stains from collars and armpits – spray liberally and leave for 15 minutes before throwing in the wash. Vinegar also helps prevent limescale build-up in your machine if you live in a hard-water area.

Many of us wear our clothes quite lightly, and they usually don’t need a heavy wash, but rather a refreshment. Most of the time I use the 15 or 30 minute cycles at the lowest possible temperature. It’s kinder to clothes and the planet, and I’ve used it quite successfully on clothes that bill themselves as ‘dry clean only’, but be careful and save yourself reckless washing for things that aren’t fragile or valuable.

I save the long, hot wash for sheets and other whites, to which I sometimes add a handful of Vanish Oxi Action Crystal White (£8.40 for 1kg from the supermarket) when they’re starting to look a bit drab.

Do not dry clothes indoors

Air drying in the sun is the best of all possible cures for dingy whites, and they always smell so much better. I wish you all the whitest white wines and happy dry days ahead.

How to remove stains

There are all kinds of stain removers for specific things like grease, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, wine… but I find I use them once and then by the time I need them they’ve dried up. A little clean washing-up liquid is enough for almost everything.

Rub a small amount into the stain, leave for 15 minutes, then put in the machine. Alternatively, try a multipurpose stain remover such as B. Vanish Oxi Action Fabric Stain Remover Spray (£11 for 1L in supermarkets).

Act now

Use cold water to soak or rinse the stain before washing – hot water often sets the stain.

Dab, don’t rub

Proceed carefully and repeat the treatment if necessary.

Use paper towels or a white cloth to blot so you don’t accidentally transfer paint from the cloth to the stain.

If you’re trying to remove a red wine stain, don’t listen to those weirdos who tell you the best way to do it is to rinse it with white wine. Then you only have a red wine stain and a white wine deficit. Ditto salt. This will simply set the stain in place. Blot with kitchen paper, then rinse the stain with soda water or mineral water, which will help remove it. Repeat if necessary. For upholstered furniture, no more wine! is good (£7.99 for 250ml from

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