I may be one of the few people I know who actually enjoys doing laundry! Washing, drying and putting away the laundry is part of my daily routine. I set my washing machine timer to run the programme overnight, so it finishes just as I get up in the morning. I do a load of laundry a day, so it never piles up. You see, it is the small wins that brighten my day. But it is not just the satisfaction of completing the laundry as part of my daily routine which allows me to enjoy what many others see as a despised chore. I believe it is also because I have finally found the right tools and products to make it a breeze.
Sorting the Laundry
My favourite product for sorting the dirty laundry before it gets washed is the Songmics Laundry Sorter Trolley. You can purchase them in two sizes, either with 3 bags, or 4. Each bag holds a full load of laundry (8kg capacity washing machine). We have the larger size, which is perfect for sorting our laundry into:
- woollens/delicates, and
- dog towels.
The trolley is on wheels so it can be moved around with ease, and the bags are removable and made of easy-wipe polyester.
Everyone has their own particular favourite brand of washing powder or liquid: Persil, Ariel, Tide… I make my own laundry detergent (and use white vinegar as a natural alternative to shop bought fabric conditioner). Originally, I tried this out as an experiment; it was one of my New Thing A Day challenges in 2015. We loved our homemade laundry powder so much that we have continued making it ever since. The recipe we use is a lot more natural than the powders, pods and liquids available in the supermarket, it is extremely inexpensive, and most importantly it works brilliantly! Full details of our homemade laundry powder can be found here.
If you’re not into making your own, and still want to try something different and more natural, another great alternative to commercial brand laundry detergent is organic Castile soap. Just a capful or two per load should suffice. We like this method too, but here in the UK, it can be prohibitively expensive to rely on Castile soap if you get through vast amounts of laundry, like we do.
Whatever detergent you use, make sure it is one that gives you results you love! If it doesn't, don't be afraid to try out something new.
Before unloading your freshly washed laundry, put it on for an extra spin in the washing machine. Removing as much excess moisture as possible from the load will help it dry quicker.
If you have a washer dryer (we love our Samsung EcoBubble) or a tumble dryer, putting laundry on a very short drying cycle before hanging it out to fully dry can also significantly speed up the drying process.
Use Sun and Wind Power
The most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly method of drying laundry is of course to let it dry naturally on an outdoor washing line. Our preference is to dry laundry outdoors on our rotary clothes line, weather permitting. To contend with the strong Scottish winds and unpredictable rain showers, we love the stainless steel clothes pegs made by French company, Pincinox.
These clever pegs are constructed of a single piece of stainless steel, which means that there are no parts to break off and they won't rust if they get wet. They are also heat and frost resistant. The grip strength of these clothes pegs is incredible, and we have had no problems hanging out to dry superking size bedsheets and duvet covers in super windy conditions. Also, they come with a lifetime warranty. It doesn't get much better than that!
The damp and often dreary British weather offers certain challenges when it comes to drying laundry. Many British households dry laundry indoors using passive methods such as by draping wet laundry across hot radiators or on clothes airers placed around the home. Whether by choice or necessity, if you dry your laundry indoors, here are some things to consider.
A load of wet laundry emits up to 2 litres of water into the air. Turning up the heating, and keeping doors and windows closed whilst drying clothes indoors, can create serious health and environmental risks. In rooms with poor ventilation, the heat and moisture in the air encourages mould spores and dust mites. These, in turn, can trigger asthma, hay fever, allergies, and other respiratory problems. The smaller and more airtight the home, the worse the problems can become.
If you must dry your laundry indoors, it is best to position it by a south facing window. Place wet laundry to dry in out of the way areas, away from people and pets, and keep rooms well ventilated with regular airings, opening windows and letting in some fresh air. If you haven’t already, consider investing in a dehumidifier to run in the room you are drying laundry.
A dehumidifier helps control the humidity in the environment, removes condensation from a room, and prevents damp developing in your home. Your laundry will dry faster too. Dehumidifers work by extracting moisture from the air, collecting the water in a large removable tank for easy disposal. (An added bonus is that the water collected by dehumidifiers is technically a form of distilled water which can be used for filling your steam iron or watering inedible plants.)
Purchasing a dehumidifier is a sound investment that will not only assist your laundry to dry more quickly, but will also help protect your health and home. We use our dehumidifier daily, and have had the same one for over ten years. It still works perfectly!
Speed up drying times without increasing home heating costs by investing in an electric heated laundry airer.
When it's wet outside, we often use our Lakeland Dry Soon heated airer. It holds a full load of laundry, can be operated on a timer, and the configuration can be adapted to best accommodate the items being dried. For example, you can fold down the lower shelves to hang larger items, such as towels and bed linen, from the top rack only. It won't dry your clothes as quickly as a tumble dryer, but the longevity of your clothes will be increased due to less tumbling. I have found it to be especially useful to quickly, and gently, dry delicates and woollens when it's not possible to hang up the washing outside.
We recommend purchasing the available accessories, especially the cover made of breathable material, which further accelerates drying times. The manufacturers state is costs around 6p/hour to run, making it a more economical method of drying laundry than turning up the central heating. And when it is not in use, the Dry Soon folds away so it can be stored out of the way.
There are a variety of different makes and models of heated airers available, including smaller ones which are ideal if space is tight.
The use of tumble dryers is often frowned upon by the energy conscious. However, there are a number of A++ energy rated models on the market these days, and an energy efficient condensing tumble dryer can be a great option to dry your laundry when it is not possible to hang it outdoors, and costs less than turning up the heating in your home to passively dry clothes. (If you do not have a tumble dryer, why not visit a local launderette to use theirs.)
All natural wool dryer balls can significantly cut the drying time (and cost) of using a tumble dryer. They work by helping to lift and separate the laundry as it is tumbled, increasing the hot air flowing in between the fabrics and thus cutting down the time and energy required. Your laundry will dry faster and come out softer too! We have been using these XL wool dryer balls by Heart Felt for years, and highly recommend them.
If you struggle with mountains of ironing, make sure you have your favourite Netflix show queued up, and a steam iron that does a great job, and works fast. The more steam an iron generates, the faster you will see those creases disappear. If you are looking to upgrade your iron, the choices available are vast, including traditional corded steam irons, cordless ones, and powerful steam generator irons with large dedicated water reservoirs. (Don't forget to fill up your irons with the distilled water from the dehumidifer!)
Having the right ironing board is just as important as a good iron. My personal favourite is the Brabantia Ironing Board in Size C. It is larger and wider than standard ironing boards, so you can iron trousers and large shirts in one go. The large surface area also makes quick and easy work of ironing really large items such as bed sheets and duvet covers, which is a huge plus in my book. Additionally, the sturdy iron rest has been designed to comfortably hold dedicated steam generator units, should you have one, removing the need for a separate table.
Achieving neat and organised drawers and shelves does not have to be time-consuming. Using the Songmics Easy Folder makes it really fast to fold clothes perfectly every time. It’s also pretty fun to use! There are two sizes available: standard, and child. We use ours every day to quickly and flawlessly achieve perfectly, and uniformly, folded clothing. Particularly, if, like ourselves, you follow the KonMari Method, this clever device will help keep your wardrobe neat, organised, and sparking joy!
Those are my top laundry tips and products for now, but I am always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to improve everyday tasks so watch out for future recommendations on this topic. I hope you found this article helpful, and that something mentioned above will help you enjoy doing the laundry as much as I do. What are your personal favourite laundry tips and products? Leave us a comment below!