Top Laundry Tips

From Shannon Lush

SHANNON-LUSH-HEADSHOT (Small)Shannon Lush, author of the international bestselling book ‘Spotless’ and all round cleaning guru explains how to love your laundry the eco friendly way. Shannon shares tips on washing, stain removal, drying and how to cut down your time in the laundry.




We know you love your laundry and we’d like to love ours too! What tips can you suggest to lighten the laundry load?

In times past most people had far fewer clothes that needed washing less often. The reason for this is the lower quantity of soap that was used. Soap is fat based and attracts dirt so if you use too much soap powder when washing your clothes, they will get dirtier faster and you will need to wash your clothes more often. Inappropriate storage can also lead to stained clothes and linen that need to be washed even though they are basically clean.

How can we cut our laundry time down?

The easiest way to minimise the amount of time you spend in the laundry is to make sure that you do the laundry the right way the first time. Much of the time consumed in laundries is having a disorganised laundry, where clothes have to be re-washed multiple times to try and remove stains or other problems caused by inappropriate washing.

In an ideal world, we would have five sorting hampers. For those of us with space constraints what’s the minimum number of sorting baskets we can get away with?

Clothes must be sorted before washing and at the very least having two hampers is an essential. One for whites and one for everything else. The one for everything else will have to be sorted as you do your washing. I find this rather cumbersome and even in small spaces you can have five smaller hampers. The five hampers are: one for whites, one for reds, one for dark-coloured’s, one for colourfast, and one for hand washing which includes woollens.

Why is it so important to have a stain station and what should be in it?

If you treat stains before you do your washing you don’t get any nasty surprises after they finish drying on the line. Having a table with all of your stain removal solutions ready really saves you time. I have methylated spirits, white spirits, salt, glycerin, a cake of normal bathroom soap and dishwashing liquid ready to remove stains.

How much laundry detergent should we use per cycle?

For a top loading washing machine the formula is one quarter the recommended quantity of powder or liquid plus two tablespoons of bicarb soda. Place 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into the fabric conditioner slot instead of fabric conditioner. For a front loader the recipe is the same except that you drop your washing powder or liquid down to one-eighth the recommended quantity of front loader washing powder.

Do you have a recipe for creating your own detergent you could share with us?

For regular washing I use commercial soap. However for delicates I make my own.

Washing powderfor delicates, soft wools and anything fine, in a large bottle mix:

  • ½ cup grated pure soap
  • ¼ cup very cheap shampoo
  • 2 teaspoons of bicarb
  • and 2 teaspoons of vinegar

Fill with 2 litres of water, put the lid on and shake. It’s ready to use.

Make sure you label the bottle so it doesn’t get confused with anything else. Add fragrance such as lavender oil. Tea tree oil is a good at killing germs. Lavender is the best because it softens your clothes.

Why is it important to order your washing (i.e. lights first, followed by reds etc)

Actually it’s not about the colour it’s about the weight of the fabric. I wash lightweight garments first as they dry faster, clearing the clothesline for other things before the end of the day. If I put all the heavy towels out first they would take quite some time to dry and I wouldn’t be able to wash anything else until they were done.

Do you opt for a dryer or an airer, and why?

I have three methods of drying clothes: the clothesline, the airing rack, and the dryer. My first port of call is usually the clothesline unless it is a garment that needs to be dried in the shade. I tend to use the drying rack to finish things off if the weather is inclement and I also use the rack to finish off clothes that have been dried in the dryer so that they don’t have to be cooked to be dried. Obviously I use my clothesline and my airing rack more often as the clothes smell better, are more hygienic when dried in the sunshine and it saves the wallet.

Every laundry needs a cleaning kit – what’s in yours?

A good quality washing powder, methylated spirits, white spirits, glycerin, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil, white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, a cake of common bathroom soap (not laundry soap), cheap hair shampoo, dishwashing liquid, lemon juice, salt, pantyhose, cotton balls and old toothbrushes.

How often should we clean our washing machine? What should we use? Perhaps I take mine a little further than most as I wash my washing machine out with a damp cloth and a little vinegar every time I use it. However simply using the soap solution mentioned previously will keep your washing machine clean. The bicarb soda and vinegar do a wonderful job.


Special thanks to Shannon Lush for her cleaning and organisation insights. We encourage you to have a look at her website (  and look for her new book “Spotless A-Z” in bookstores now.

© Copyright Howards Storage World, 2014.