Checking off the laundry list

  • Article by: MARTHA STEWART LIVING
  • Updated: November 17, 2012 - 1:44 PM

Tips on how to keep bedding linens company-ready and how to hand-wash clothes.

Q How can I keep my guest bedding fresh? Should the bed be made, or should I store the linens in the closet?

A Any linens that go too long without use, whether in a closet or on a bed, will begin to go "stale" -- getting stiff around the edges or creases, and taking on a less-than-clean scent. It is best to remake the guest bed, even if no one has visited, at least every two months, changing the sheets and laundering them.

Proper storage will also keep your sheets in mint condition. In the linen closet, always place clean sheets on the bottom of the sheet stack, and take sheets from the top when changing a bed. This way, all the linens get the same amount of time on beds and in the linen closet. Leave plenty of room around each stack of sheets in the closet to allow for air circulation.

When your guests leave, it's a good idea to make up their beds as soon as you can -- they look better, and you never know when you'll have to put them to good use.

Hand-washing delicate clothes

Q Is it OK to use regular laundry detergent to hand-wash clothes? I have heard that it's bad for your hands.

A Hand-washing clothes with laundry detergent meant for machine washing can definitely lead to dry, irritated skin.

Conventional laundry detergents often contain artificial dyes and fragrances that can dry out your hands. Even detergents labeled "dye-free" or "fragrance-free" can be made with some abrasive chemicals because they are designed for much larger loads and a washing machine with plenty of friction and a rinse cycle. For a gentle experience for your hands, as well as your hand-washables, use a formula specifically designed for hand-laundering or even a very mild dishwashing liquid.

To hand-wash clothes properly, start by adding a few drops of detergent to a basin of tepid water. Next, swirl clothes around in the soapy water, and then gently squeeze the fabric. After letting the garment soak for a few minutes, rinse it in warm water until it is free of soap bubbles. Gently compress and squeeze each garment over the basin to remove excess water.

While the clothing is still wet, lay it flat on a clean towel and roll it up, pressing as you roll. Remove it from the towel, and let the clothing air-dry on a hanger, a rack or a clothesline located in a breezy place. Knits and sweaters should be dried flat.

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