August 2009 | Welcome to another edition of Ask our Butler...
...we’re going to talk dirty laundry… and no, not the song by Don Henley!

Laundry time… A family I worked with decided it was time their 15 year old son learnt how to do laundry. (see it coming?) A hodge-podge of whites, darks, lights, jeans and chinos, Lacrosse kit – what a mess, jammed as tightly as the machine could hold!   I had to re-wash everything and give a lesson to a less than enthusiastic young man… though I think he appreciated not smelling of a gym locker!

Taking proper care when laundering your clothes will save you money by extending their life. “How” you might ask? It’s easy really - sort clothes by light, dark, whites, jeans and silks, and if ladies present, delicate undergarments.   Yes, silks may be washable but read the directions first just to be sure. There is nothing worse than silk coming out in shreds!

Filling your washing machine as full as possible may seem like a good idea but it creates tight washing confines and your clothes will not be completely washed (remember the 15 year old?). Fill the machine loosely and make sure to use the proper detergent and water temperature. Truthfully cold water is great except for whites. For set-in stains, use your favourite stain fighter, NapiSan is mine. A Hint – put the detergent in first as the water fills to dissolve evenly if you use a top loader.

Clothes left in the washer allow wrinkles to set. So remove them quickly to make ironing easier! Here comes the interesting part…line drying is best. Drier heat damages the fabric, fades the colours and shortens the life of your clothes! Who knew?? You’ll save energy, get some much needed Vitamin D, plus some aerobic exercise.

Another hint – set the timer after hanging (the clothes, not your partner) so you may gather them whilst still a little damp. This reduces ironing time as the wrinkles release quicker and easier when damp.   Is there anything more wonderful than a freshly ironed shirt with its crispness and wonderful finish? (Spoken like a true butler!) And yes, we will talk about ironing in future articles.

Now, blue jeans will be rather stiff after hanging outside. Place them in the drier for 5 minutes on a warm heat setting and they’ll be soft for the next wearing – no cardboard style stiff legs! If you don’t have a drier, then a quick run over with the iron and presto - easy moving (though any teenager will be aghast if you put a crease in the leg).

On a final note, taking shirts to the laundry or dry cleaner is as much a time-savings as it is an expense. The extra high heat used during pressing shortens fabric life and causes buttons to deteriorate much faster and fall off at very inopportune times – such as the time I was preparing to teach a class and the buttons were missing on my cuffs! (Needle and thread are always in this butlers’ bag!)

For an essential guide to clothing care, valeting and packing a suitcase, I can highly recommend BY JEEVES!. This handy travel size book is full of tips and tricks and practical advice. In this butler's humble opinion it is $12.50 well spent.

There you have it – a few easy steps to keeping your Edward Stripe shirts looking their absolute best! Until next time – happy laundering!!!

Yours in gracious service,

Mark Johnson
The Butler

return to Ask the Butler >