You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

How clean is your washing?

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 07/02/2019 Emilie Martin
a close up of a basket © Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why the just-washed freshness of some garments fades so soon after you put them on? Or why certain well-worn pieces become pongy so quickly after laundering?

If this sounds familiar, it could be down to a build-up of stains and soils that you can’t see. It turns out that 70% of the soils on our clothes are 'invisible', according to scientists at Procter & Gamble. We’re talking dead skin cells, skin oils and sweat here.

‘When these invisible soils aren’t being removed by some laundry detergents, it may explain why clothing that appears and smells fresh out of the wash seems to pick up odors just from sitting in a drawer or shortly after putting on the garments,’ explains Kelly Van Haren, a fabric care scientist at P&G.

  Getty © Getty Getty

To make sure you’re getting rid of the stains you can’t see when you put a wash on, follow these simple DOs and DON'Ts.

DO Use a biological detergent

Biological laundry detergents are tough on stains as they contain enzymes to help break down fat, oil and protein. Don’t use them on fabrics made from protein-based fibres such as wool or silk, though.

DON'T Splurge on branded detergent

Anyone who’s ever visited the household cleaning products aisle of their local supermarket, will have noticed that the cost of laundry detergent varies wildly. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that pricier products will clean clothes better. When we recently tested bio laundry liquids in the GHI lab, it was Lidl’s Formil Biological Gel (£1.99, available in-store only) that emerged as the leader of the pack. It clocked up an impressive overall score of 90/100 and, at just 8p per wash, it costs less than a quarter of the price of some of the other detergents we tested.

How clean is your washing? © Getty Images How clean is your washing?

DO Pre-treat garments before washing

Sweat stains are notoriously hard to shift and tend to build up under the armpits of regularly worn shirts and T-shirts. To keep them at bay, the experts at the GHI recommend dabbing the affected areas of your clothing with white vinegar before each wash or rinsing them thoroughly in cold water. It’s also best to wash clothes as soon after they’ve been worn as possible.

DON'T Give in to sweat stains

Biotex Stain Removing Powder (Pack of 4) © amazon.co.uk Biotex Stain Removing Powder (Pack of 4)

Sweat stains might be stubborn, but that’s no reason to let them have their unsightly way. Don’t bid your favourite garments goodbye before you’ve tried these tricks:

  • Soak cotton clothing in a solution of biological stain-remover such as Bio Tex Stain Removing Powder and scrub the tell-tale yellow stains with a nailbrush. Follow up by machine washing with an in-wash stain remover.
  • Rub sweat stains with a solution of equal parts glycerine and warm water. Leave for an hour before machine washing, as before.
  • Make up a paste using 4 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda to 3 tablespoons of water then rub this into the sweat stain using a nailbrush. Machine wash after two hours.

DO Change and wash pyjamas frequently

Your pyjamas come into direct contact with your skin and areas of your body that are usually (ahem) covered by underwear. This means there’s plenty of opportunity for body fluids and bacteria to build up in the fabric. Aim to change and wash them once every three days.

DO use an in-wash anti-bacterial treatment

a close up of a bottle: Halo Proactive Sports Wash © amazon.co.uk Halo Proactive Sports Wash


If clothing – and sportswear, in particular – is pungent even when it’s just been washed, use an anti-bacterial in-wash product to help freshen it. Try Halo Proactive Sports Wash on sportswear, or a product such as Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser (£7 for 2.5l) or Napisan (£3.75 for 800g) on other garments.

Gallery: 20 of the most popular cleaning hacks on Pinterest [Cosmopolitan UK]

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Good Housekeeping UK

Good Housekeeping UK
Good Housekeeping UK
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon