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Make laundry easier, simpler and faster (part 1) Plus the definitive guide to stain removal

As someone who has to juggle a LOT of washing, I know from bitter experience that it’s vital to make things as easy and as pleasant as possible.

"Back in the ‘olden days’ the laundry was
forgotten about until the weekend."

But with a much larger family that’s unthinkable and I soon realised that to keep on top of it I needed a system to make the task much quicker.

Firstly, it’s important to get organised, and to do this you need to take each task one step at a time.


1 Collecting and sorting dirty laundry

Laundry bagI used to spend quite a lot of my time collecting everyone’s washing from their bedroom floors (bad parenting!) as well as reminding them that they should do it themselves.

This was annoying for all concerned and so I had a rethink. I didn’t want to put baskets in each bedroom as this would create more work for me. The easiest option for the children was a basket on the landing but as we have no floor space I decided to hang a hook and pretty wipe clean bag on the bathroom door.

Each evening, I empty the bag into two larger baskets (one for pale colours and one for darks). I also check for stains before they become ingrained in the fabric. I wouldn’t trust the children to do this! Anything that has a stain is taken to the utility room for stain removal:


2 THE definitive guide to stain removal

The key to tackling stains effectively is to act quickly! And the other key is to use the Dairy Diary Stain Removal Guide.

These pages from the diary have been helping DD fans to remove stains effectively for over 30 years!

And here it is, the best guide to stain removal that you’ll ever need (I have mine printed off and stuck on a cupboard in the utility room for quick reference):


The definitive stain removal guide

What to do

Remove any solids with a blunt knife, and blot liquids with white kitchen paper.

If you’re unsure about the fabric, apply stain remover to a small, unseen area and wait 5–10 minutes. If the fabric reacts, seek dry-cleaning advice. Avoid treating delicate or expensive fabrics, or those that require dry cleaning only.

Don’t over-soak the fabric with a cleaning agent. To avoid making a ring mark, use a soft, absorbent cloth to apply the cleaning agent and work in a circular motion from the outside inwards. Dab, rather than rub, because rubbing can damage the fabric and it can also spread the stain.


Cleaning Kit (store safely away from children)

  • Detergents: Biological and heavy-duty liquid detergents.
  • Eucalyptus oil: Available from essential oils section of major chemists.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Ask your chemist for 20 volume strength. Mix 1 part to 6 parts water; soak item for 30 minutes or until the stain has cleared.
  • Lighter fluid: Apply neat with cotton wool.
  • Methylated spirits: Available from chemists. Apply with cotton-wool buds.
  • Pre-wash treatments: Some of these are formulated to treat a whole raft of common stains, some are more specific. Follow the instructions on the container.
  • White spirit: Dab neat on to grease stains.
  • White vinegar: Mix 15ml vinegar to 300ml water (3 tsp to ½ pint).



  • Blood: Soak in biological detergent and cold water, or cold water with salt added, and wash in heavy-duty biological detergent. Or try rubbing a mixture of cornflour and cold water into the stain, leaving to dry and brushing off.
  • Collar and cuff dirt: Apply liquid biological detergent directly with an old toothbrush. Wash as usual.
  • Deodorant: Sponge with a hydrogen peroxide solution (see box); apply heavy-duty liquid detergent to the area; wash.
  • Perspiration: Dab with white vinegar solution (see box); leave for 5 minutes. Soak and wash in biological detergent.
  • Urine and vomit: Soak in biological detergent and cold water, and wash in heavy-duty biological detergent.



  • Egg, milk and gravy: Soak in biological detergent and cold water, and wash in heavy-duty biological detergent.
  • Chewing gum: Freeze to make the gum brittle, using an ice cube inside a plastic bag; scrape it off, dab with methylated spirits (see box) and wash as usual.
  • Chocolate: Apply biological liquid detergent to the area; wash in heavy-duty detergent (containing bleach). On white items, soak in hydrogen peroxide solution (see box) and wash. Or soak in milk and wash in washing-up liquid; dab any remaining stain with white vinegar (see box), leave and wash as usual. Also good for coffee marks.
  • Oil/salad dressings: Sprinkle with cornflour to absorb grease, brush off, soak with washing-up liquid and then wash as normal.



  • Tea, coffee, soft drinks: Soak in cool water, use a pre-wash treatment and wash in heavy-duty detergent (with bleach). Or use a hydrogen peroxide solution (see box) before washing.
  • Red wine: Mop up excess liquid and treat as for oil. Or cover stain with salt and leave for 30 minutes. Sponge with a warm solution of biological detergent (with bleach), rinse with cold water and wash as normal. If the stain has dried, treat as for blood. On upholstery and carpets, blot with white kitchen paper. If it cannot be rinsed, spray with soda water, or white wine, then mop with kitchen paper.
  • White wine: Rinse with plenty of warm water, or treat as tea.


Grease, glue, wax, oil and tar

  • Oil, fat, grease and tar: Dab the area with eucalyptus oil; wash in water as hot as the fabric allows.
  • Glue: Try to remove glue before it sets; apply methylated spirits (see box) for natural fabrics, or lighter fluid for synthetic fabrics.
  • Wax crayons, cosmetics and shoe polish: Treat with white spirit (see box) to remove the wax stain. Apply a pre-wash treatment and wash in heavy duty detergent (with bleach).



  • Grass and mud: Dab on methylated spirits (see box) and rinse off with warm soapy water. Apply a pre-wash treatment and then wash in heavy-duty detergent (with bleach). For a new stain, try soaking in white vinegar (see box), or squeeze on some lemon juice.
  • Ink, ballpoint and felt tip: Dab stain with methylated spirits, and then wash. For washable ink, soak in milk before laundering.
  • Mildew: Bleach white fabrics, or soak, then wash in heavy-duty detergent (with bleach).
  • Nail varnish: Mop up liquid, then with stain side facing down on kitchen paper, flush with nail polish remover (this is quite strong, and should not be used on some man-made fabrics – be sure to test first). Use methylated spirits (see box) to remove remaining nail-varnish colour.
  • Rust: Cover with salt, squeeze lemon juice over the salt and leave for about 1 hour; wash.


Don’t miss part 2 coming soon.








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