Twyla’s Top 10 Laundry Tips
Our B&B rep, Twyla, has an extensive background in hospitality, and she knows a thing or two about keeping towels and linens looking fabulous. (In fact, Twyla will be part of “The Down & Dirty on the New Up & Clean (While Being Green)” workshop for the upcoming PAII conference in Las Vegas in January on the subject of how to solve some of the hardest laundry problems confronting modern innkeepers today, while remaining as green as possible.)
As a former hotel manager Twyla has seen it all! Better yet, she’s armed with a near-endless supply of smart, budget-conscious and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions.
Twyla was kind enough to put together some of her Top 10 suggestions for cleaner linens and stain removal. Here they are:
- If you are washing in hot water, you are setting all your stains. I know we’ve all been taught to use the hot water, but body temperature or below will help with that! Stains coming from the body are 98 degrees or less, so to get them out, that’s the temperature at which they need to be washed. If you have a B&B or hotel, you probably have commercial machines. Try to get the temperature lower. It will save a lot of laundry stain problems. And no, you don’t have to use hot water to kill the germs: Soap kills the germs.
- Pre-treating is almost a must. Especially if you happen to have any stubborn stains, like blood. We used a spray bottle that we put in our cleaning trays. Fill 1/2 with water and 1/2 with peroxide. Spray any spots that you see before stripping the beds or putting things in “the laundry pile”. This will also work on rust and also any build up on shower doors. After cleaning shower doors really well, we used NANO Wax on them once a month – it really saved on the cleaning time.
- Bleach kills your fibers. Don’t ever use bleach, because once you kill the fibers, it makes them more susceptible to staining. Instead, use the peroxide. Whatever you use in bleach, use about 1/2 the amount in peroxide. While it costs a little more, it will keep your linens from falling apart a lot longer.
- You also are probably using too much soap. If you have a window in your washing machine, you can probably see all the suds that are left on your linens even after the rinse – it’s amazing how much residue is left behind! Once you get rid of this residue and get back to really CLEAN linens, the stains won’t set as easily either. If you are using a commercial machine, after you have run your linens through the wash cycles with soap, start the machine again, using NO SOAP, but put a cup of white vinegar in the machine and run your towels and linens again through the whole cycles. Most of the commercial machines have a cut off valve so you can do this. If you can’t “feed the vinegar” into the machine, you can put it in through the front door with the wet linens. Residue soap reduces the softness of the towels and bed linens.
- The new self-tanning creams are awful! They will set if you use the hot wash so use body temperatures to keep those stains from setting. The interesting thing is they don’t always show up until they are in hot water. Cooler temps will help. You will need to pre-treat the stain and use peroxide in the wash.
- It’s gross, but it’s a fact of life. At some point you will probably have vomit stains on your towels or bed linens. Vomit usually has grease in it, so spotting with Dawn dish washing liquid is the best. I don’t know why other liquid soaps don’t work as well, but the Dawn is the best and works the first time. Dawn is also good for cleaning Jacuzzi tubs if you have those.
- Unfortunately, once a stain is set, it’s pretty hard to get out. Peroxide will help, but you also might have to make a paste out of baking soda and peroxide mixed together. I also used that as my cleanser on my sinks and tubs.
- Do not use fabric softeners. All it does is coat the fibers and then makes them more susceptible to stains. Fabric softeners also reduce the absorbency of the towels, as well as the natural softness of the linens. Use vinegar, like I suggested above, as it acts as a natural softener, with the mild acid removing any detergent that clings to the linens.
- Don’t over-dry your linens. It will weaken the fibers, and if there are any stains that didn’t come out it helps to set them. When drying linens use a lower setting.
- Finally, here’s a suggestion for a crazy stain remover when all else fails: Resolve carpet cleaner. Put it in a spray bottle and use it to spray the stain. There’s no doubt, it’s harder on the fibers, but when you are desperate, that’s the last ditch effort.
Photo Credit: Ammgramm/Flickr/Creative Commons