Like any girl navigating her twenties, and somewhat nearing the end of them, I am slowly picking up a small pile of awesome laundry tips, just like my mother before me and I’m sure her mother before her. I do pride myself on being a good domestic homebody, but I’m also a modern gal who’d rather be getting a manicure or watching E! than doing laundry, so any tips to make it easier are very welcomed. Recently I spent 24hrs in Brussels with P&G to learn more about the psychology behind clothes and on that trip I picked up so many great laundry tips that I felt that I just had to share them with all of you.
1. Soft or Dry?Are you a person who loves using lots of fabric softener on your towels? Yes? Well, then you are choosing comfort over efficiency. A rougher towel that hasn’t been washed with conditioner will dry you a lot quicker than a nice, soft comforting one which will take a bit longer as the softener makes the fibres less absorbent. It’s your choice however. I still pick comfort by the way. Your love of fabric has to do with all of the senses, so how a fabric feels is very important.
2. How do you make your favourite clothes last longer? The quick answer: Use quality cleaning products. Why? Fabric care is essentially like hair care and when was the last time you bought the cheapest brand to look after your hair?! I spend a lot of money on hair products to keep my hair healthy. Apparently, you can do the same with fabric. Wouldn’t you rather spend money on maintenance rather than replacing your clothes? It’s better for the environment too. There’s no need to continually replace your favourite clothes as you fall out of love with them. The ‘Fabric Care’ department takes up a third of the entire of P&G and they reinventing themselves and the industry. They are standing up for clothes and telling us that it’s not just about stain removal anymore. It’s not what you wash out of your clothes, but rather what you wash in. After years of customer research all over the world, they have ascertained that for the majority of the world, it’s about pride and presentation. You want to look and feel good in clothes that look and feel good themselves. When you look at clothing, you are actually using all of your senses, not just sight. Think about it, what do you do in a shop? Feel the items. When you get out a clean towel, you are feeling how soft it is and smelling how fresh it is. Smells are very important. They remind you of different times in your life. Maybe a great beach holiday, your grandma’s spare room, your garden at your favourite time of year. It makes a lot of sense actually. If your clothes look and feel and smell like they did when they were new, then you’ll wear them more often. And this is why P&G have developed products that keep you falling in love with your clothes over and over again.
3. Powder and liquid do different jobs. I did not know this. We always buy a big box of powder despite liquid tablets being easier to use. A box of powder can last about a year in a 2-person household. However, I learned that coloured clothes fade when you use white powder, because a slight residue is left on the clothes, leaving that dull grey veil. Using liquid avoids this. You can also switch to liquid or liquitabs now and see an improvement in your greyed clothes. That was music to my ears.
4. How to keep your whites white. Again, this is about using the right products. Every time I have been to Africa, I have pondered over just HOW those women keep their whites so white, when I can hardly keep my bedding and towels white despite them never even leaving the house. Day after day, I would drive down dirt tracks in places like rural Kenya & Uganda past children on their way to school in bright white shirts only to be amazed at just how white they were. I finally got my answer to this in Brussels. It turns out that they spend more on certain detergents (yes, often P&G products) and save them only for their white clothes which they save for important places, such as church and school. And even if they have a washing machine, they still prefer to scrub the clothes by hand because they are better than any machine. Impressive. An African mother has the same pride in sending her children to school looking pristine as a mother in London does. It’s no different.
5. Dry cleaning myths. Not every ‘dry clean only’ item is actually ‘dry clean only’. Most companies have their clothes made in countries where they can’t test washing conditions so they just stick ‘dry clean only’ on the label to be safe. So unless you have a particularly delicate fabric, then you should be ok to wash. But don’t come back to me if you make a bad judgement call. (I’m also a little nervous on this one!)
But, wait a minute. Why is focusing on your clothing and fabric care so important? There’s noone better placed to answer this than the team at P&G working on Ariel & Lenor in Brussels. (I have honestly never met a more passionate team in my life.) They told me that the beauty industry is huge multi-billion dollar company that thrives on its emotional engagement. Why do we buy makeup? because it makes us look AND FEEL better, but it covers 10% of our bodies. Clothes cover the rest. So why not care for our fashion and for the clothes that give us the confidence to walk into that job interview, that first date or that important party or meeting? It makes perfect sense when you look at it like that.
*Thank you to P&G for their hospitality in Brussels, as well as teaching me the error in my ways when it comes to laundry!