Stain removal. It’s not always an easy task: it takes time, patience, the correct tools and proper water temperature, all variables that change depending on the fabric and the stain.
Once you’ve removed a stain from an item, your next step is to wash and dry it properly. We realize what you might be saying: “I know how to use a washer and dryer, thanks.” But although it seems simple, there are certain steps you’ll need to take to save your linens/laundry from the rag bag.
Whether you own a hotel or bed and breakfast or you rent out a vacation property, it’s safe to say you’ve lost some linens to stains or improper washing/drying. It would help if you could keep a checklist in your laundry room to help you and your staff avoid mistakes when washing linens.
Here are 18 invaluable tips to keep your linens clean and stain-free:
- Shake out linens to be certain there is not anything caught in the bundle of laundry, and be sure to always check for stains.
- Pre-treat whatever you’re washing with proper stain removal for the particular stain and use correct water temperature if soaking before adding to washing machine. Remember that once laundered (especially in hot water), the stain is set.
- Use a mild laundry detergent that does not contain dyes, chlorine or brightener. Always add detergent to water, not directly onto laundry. Less detergent is better unless laundry is very soiled.
- Do not use chlorine bleach. It wears down the fibers and causes fading and discoloration. If you need to use bleach, use an oxygen-based bleach.
- Avoid fabric softener, which coats fibers in oils, waxes and fragrances and makes the fabric less absorbent. Use a half cup of baking soda in the wash to freshen, brighten and soften.
- Most linens can be washed in warm water with a cold water rinse. Always check the care label.
- Do not overstuff the washing machine when washing linens. An over-stuffed washer will not clean properly and can cause excessive abrasion and agitation.
- Use vinegar in the last rinse to release excess soap and soften fibers. It does not leave a vinegar smell.
- Wash new towels separately to remove excess lint. It’s normal for new towels to produce a lot of lint, and it may take a few washings to get rid of it.
- Snags or pulled terry can be clipped safely at body of towel to avoid catching on rings.
- Do not mix cotton with poly-cotton linens as it will cause fabric damage.
- Always wash new dark color linens separately before adding to other laundry, as the dye may run. You can set the dark colors by adding a tablespoon of salt to the first wash and rinse with a fourth of a cup of vinegar to set the dye.
- Before adding linens to the dryer, be sure to shake out and untangle them so that everything will get properly dried. This will also eliminate most wrinkling.
- Never use a high heat setting, which will weaken the fibers, damage the fabric, increase shrinking and shorten the life of your linens.
- Add laundry to dryer after checking that all stains have been removed. If stains are not removed, apply stain remover again. Once the stains hit the dryer, they will be set.
- Do not overstuff the dryer. Your laundry will dry more evenly. And it’s better to run dryer for less time as over drying can cause loss of brightness and a harsh feel to linens.
- Remove sheets before they are fully dried to prevent wrinkling. Smooth and fold or press with an iron. If ironing, it is always best to take out of the dryer while still damp.
- Clean your dryer’s lint trap after each drying cycle.