The red wine spill,the goal keeper’s grass stains. Common examples of times when you take a look at garments and can’t help but wonder if the washing machine is up to the job.
We’re very lucky today, most domestic machines have as much research and development time and investment behind them as those you find in the laundrette, but the best machine on planet Earth is only good as the person choosing the programme wisely.
Going back to the red wine spill, perhaps on a carpet, and you wouldn’t need to survey many people before you hear a so called expert tell you to pour white wine onto it.
If you’re trying to encourage the alcoholism in your shag-pile then perhaps they’ve got a point. On the other hand, if you’re trying to remove the inevitable staining, don’t listen to that so-called friend.
There’s a little more truth in the sparkling water theory, as the carbonation does provide a lifting action in the carpet fibres, but let’s leave carpet cleaning to the professionals shall we?
Knowing How To Wash Sensibly
We’re more interested in stains on clothing, and the washing and drying options that will give you the best chance of getting those stains out and restoring the garment to its former glory.
First and foremost, take a look at the label in the item – there will be at least some vague clues from the laundry symbols about what you need to do. For example, the maximum washing temperature that the machine should be set to. If you’re a bit rusty on what they mean, here’s a guide to washing symbols.
Generally, you want to choose a wash temperature based on the type of stain. If in doubt, start cooler. As a broad guide, if you’re getting rid of stains like food and drink, or even blood, cold is definitely where you need to start.
On the flip side, oily stains are likely to respond better in hotter water. Mine field, right?
To make things even more complicated, things like paint come in both categories. Water based paints should always be treated in cold water first, whereas glossy oil pains need the heat.
TOP TIP: There’s a more detailed guide from the experts at Molly Maid.
So, that’s the washing covered off. Drying must be easy, right? Expensive machines and all the drying programs combine heat and spinning. Whoa there Lesley!
Drying Needs Thought Too!
Unless you know a stain is out, you really don’t want to be using the tumble dryer or a drying cycle on the drying process just yet. The reason is heat dries – obviously!
If a stain persists, drying aggressively might bind it further to the fabric fibres, leaving you with a harder time to finish the job.
Assuming you’ve got one, an outdoor washing line is your best bet, but if not, you can use a clothes airer indoors too, or why not put it out on the patio if you’ve got one.
Drying clothes (or any other material for that matter) works well in the breeze, which is why it’s quicker in the fresh air outside.
It’s also better for you too – indoor drying means more damp air that you’re breathing in your home, which isn’t the healthiest, especially if you suffer from respiratory conditions like asthma.
Once dry, closely inspect the area where the stain was. If it’s vanished without a trace, then that’s great. If not, then you can repeat the washing process – especially if it’s significantly improved.
If the stain looks as bad as where you started, then the chances are you need a slightly different approach. Perhaps try a different program, and if there’s a stain removal option or cycle available it may be worth a try.
There are also products available like Vanish that can help, especially on white clothes to remove stubborn stains. It’s not something we recommend trying too quickly, as some products contain chemicals that ideally you wouldn’t want near your skin, so it’s probably better they don’t enter the water system unless absolutely necessary either!
Always remember that stain removal is as much an art as it is a science, so don’t be afraid to try a few washed to get the results you need.
In closing, it’s worth a reminder that the usual rules apply with stain removal, so never rub a stain to try and get it out. If its a wet stain, blotting (dabbing) it with an absorbent material like a paper towel or tissue may remove some of the offending stain before it goes into the washing machine, but be careful not to spread it any further.
Patience is most definitely a virtue, and there’s always professional laundrettes and stain removal companies like dry cleaners that are a call away if you’re dealing with an expensive item or something irreplaceable due to sentimental value.