How to Wash Clothes Like an Expert

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Lily and
Ylan Ylang

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Learning how to wash your clothes properly will not only help them look and feel their best, but will make sure they last longer and serve you well for years to come. Here at Surf, our passion is to help you on your quest for clean, beautiful and fresh-smelling clothes. So, to help you on your way we have provided you with some truly great washing tips and advice.

Sort Your Clothes into Piles
Sorting your clothes into different piles is the basis of all effective clothes washing. It’s no secret that popping a red dress into the machine with a pair of white knickers is never a good move (unless you want pink underwear!) and sticking your silk skirt into a hot wash with your towels is also going to result in disaster. So, be cool. Stick to the following rules and very soon you will be washing clothes like an expert!

Look at the washing tag. It is there to help you, not just to be tucked back in by an observant friend. If you are not sure what the pretty symbols mean then have a look at our clothes washing symbols guide Put any clothes aside that are meant for hand wash or dry clean only. These are not for your washing machine – honest Sort clothes by colour. Place all whites, darks and lighter colours, such as yellow and pastel shades, together in their own piles. If possible, make an additional separate pile for medium shades, such as reds, oranges and greens Separate fabrics. Denim and towels will need to be washed on a heavier wash cycle than bras and lingerie. Delicates such as wool and silk will also need to be washed separately Tip: Why not invest in a partitioned washing basket, so you can sort as you go?

Washing Non-colourfast Clothes
When washing dark-coloured clothes, particularly new ones, dye from the fabric can sometimes run. To avoid colour from dark clothes bleeding onto your other garments and the deep despair that ensues, follow these simple steps.

Check your garment is colourfast by dampening an inconspicuous area with water and ironing a piece of kitchen paper over it. If any colour bleeds onto the paper then your item is not colourfast Read the washing tag for any specific washing instructions. Some items of non-colourfast clothing may need to be dry cleaned Non-colourfast items should be washed on their own in cold water and immediately rinsedTip: To make clothes colourfast, add a cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of salt to 1½ gallons of cold water. Steep your clothes in the solution overnight, then rinse and then wash as usual.

Removing Stains from Clothes
Knowing how to remove a stain from clothes is really rather handy. No-one wants to say goodbye to their favourite pair of jeans or best T-shirt just because of a pesky grass or ketchup stain! The best thing to do is to act fast, as the longer you leave a stain the harder it is to remove. Deciding on the best stain remover completely depends on what caused the mark in the first place. Consult our stain removal guide for answers – but as a rule, when it comes to stain removal, always:

Rinse with cold water
Treat as advised in our stain removal guide
Wash using Surf concentrated liquid. A biological detergent is best, as it contains enzymes that effectively clean, even at low temperatures
Tip: When using tougher stain removers, try them out first on an unexposed part of the garment – to check the colour doesn’t run!

How to Wash Whites
Now, who doesn’t want their whites kept whiter than white and beautifully bright, every day? Here are a few tips to keep them whiter than snow.

Wash whites separately from everything else, to minimise the risk of them turning dingy and grey Wash using the hottest wash temperature recommended. If in doubt, look at the washing label for guidance Whites that are delicate, such as blouses and underwear, may need to be washed at a slightly lower temperature. Again, check the washing label To get them whiter than white, rather than adding bleach to the wash, why not try ½ a cup of vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda?Tip: Make sure you use enough detergent. If you live in an area where the water is hard then you may need to use a little more than usual to keep your whites white.

How to Wash Blacks
Dark clothes, especially blacks, can easily fade and lose colour if they are not washed correctly. So, how do you help them keep their original colour

Wash blacks together or with other dark colours
To reduce the chance of dulling, turn garments inside out to help reduce friction on the fabric If using liquid detergent or washing capsules, you can still get marvellously clean washing on low temperatures, plus it prevents fading. Don’t lower the temperature if using powder – it won’t dissolve well.
Hang the garments up to dry naturally, as tumble drying can weaken the fabric and cause it to fade Tip: If you hang clothes up outside to dry, turn them inside out – because bright sunlight can also cause dark colours to fade.

How to Wash Colours
Protecting your coloured garments is easy when you know how. So, if you want to keep your pinks perky, your blues bold and greens gorgeous then follow a few simple guidelines:

Wash similar colours together whenever possible
Use a cool wash to prevent fading
Hang the garments up to dry naturally, as tumble drying can weaken the fabric and cause it to fade
Tip: To help protect the colour of your garments, add a tablespoon of salt to the wash. The chloride stops fading and keeps those coloured clothes in tip-top shape.

How to Wash Delicates
Delicate clothes need to be washed with care to protect the fabric and make sure that it doesn’t rip, shrink or have bits fall off! If you want to machine-wash silk, wool, linen, lace or clothes with sequins, it’s best to treat them with a little TLC and follow these guidelines.

Check the clothes tag for washing instructions. Many delicates will have to be dry cleaned or hand-washed only
Separate your delicates by colour, so they don’t bleed into each other
Separate by fabrics
Only half-fill the machine with laundry, to prevent fibres becoming tangled
Wash in cold water on the ‘delicate’ or ‘hand-wash’ cycle
Hang the clothes up to dry naturally, away from direct sunlight
If you don’t have a ‘delicate’ setting on your machine:

Wash and rinse on a cool setting, to avoid shrinkage
Set on a low spin cycle, to prevent damage to the fabric
Hang them up to dry naturally, away from direct sunlight
Tip: Place garments in a mesh bag before putting them in the washing machine. This will prevent damage to the fibres, but won’t prevent them from getting really clean or smelling totally Surf fresh and fragrant!