How to keep your washing machine clean and hygienic

It’s not just your clothes that need regular cleaning – your washing machine too will work better and keep your clothes fresher if it’s cleaned at least once a year. The dirt and grime that comes off your clothes can build up in the machine and eventually affect its performance, so here’s some advice (c.f. our friends at Lifehacker) on how to keep it clean and hygienic.

First, clean the removable parts of the machine (like the fabric softener and bleach dispensers) before replacing them. Clean around the rim of the tub and other hard-to-reach places with a toothbrush.

Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in a litre of warm water. Soak a clean cloth or sponge with the solution and wipe down the inside of the washing machine drum.

Next, pour 250ml of white vinegar into the detergent tray and run the machine on the longest, hottest cycle available (the vinegar will help to disinfect the washing machine). If possible, pause the cycle with the drum full and leave to sit for an hour (you can use this time to clean the outside of the washing machine).

After an hour, allow the wash cycle to complete. Once the water has drained, wipe the inside surfaces of the tub again using a solution made of 50% white vinegar, 50% hot water. This will help to further loosen any residue left. Then run a rinse cycle and stand back and admire your beautifully refreshed washing machine!

How to remove underarm stains from clothing

underarm stainsHope you had a lovely Christmas time! After a bit of a rush since our break, we’re back! Thanks to a query from overseas I have prepared our first stain removal tip of 2013: underarm stains.

Underarm stains are one of the toughest stains to remove because the salts and acids from sweat combine with chemicals in the deodorant and actually change the structure of the fabric. For future reference, deodorants that don’t contain aluminium should help to prevent this from occurring, as this compound is what causes the yellow marks.

To remove sweat stains we would usually recommend the use of solutions made of baking soda and white vinegar, but you might want to try other cleaning agents such as household ammonia, which is alkaline and will help to break up the minerals. Create a solution of equal parts ammonia and water and dab it on the stain (do this in a well-ventilated area). Let it sit for an hour and wash at a cool temperature. You could even try meat tenderizer – its natural enzymes are really good at removing tough biological stains (also blood and urine), but don’t use it on natural fabrics like wool or silk. Dampen the stained area with water and apply half teaspoon of meat tenderizer using your fingers. Let it work for an hour, then wash at a cool temperature. If the shirts are coloured, test these methods first on an unseen area to prevent fading.

For white shirts, you could also try aspirin: crush and dissolve two aspirin pills into 100 ml of warm water and soak the stained area in the solution for 2 – 4 hours, then wash thoroughly. Do not use chlorine bleach, as it reacts with the protein in sweat and will actually darken the stain. Letting the garments air dry will help to bleach natural fibres like cotton and linen; but be aware that sunlight may damage polyesters.

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Give a boost to your laundry with baking soda!

In previous posts we have talked about the natural cleaning qualities of lemon and vinegar, which help us take care of our laundry without harming the environment. Today we’ll talk about the special properties of baking soda – useful for more than just baking!

Thanks to its alkali qualities which raise the pH balance of water, adding 125 ml of baking soda to your washing machine’s rinse cycle will boost the detergent’s ingredients resulting in cleaner and whiter clothes.  It will also act as a a deodoriser to remove unpleasant odours, and as a natural fabric softener – ideal for those that are sensitive to chemicals. You can combine the baking powder with warm water to create a paste which will help to remove grease and heavy tea and coffee stains. Simply rub the paste onto the stain and let it sit for an hour before washing the garment as normal.

Switch to baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar for a greener way to do laundry!