Laundry FAQs

When shopping for detergents, words like bio and non-bio are wallpaper on our supermarket shelves. And while we don't tend to give these terms a second thought, choosing the right one can make a big difference to how comfortably you snooze. The fact is that they’re both great for cleaning, but for different reasons... 

The difference is enzymes. 

Biological powders contain enzymes. These are a very welcome addition to laundry detergents because they work wonders at breaking down the fats, grease and proteins that are found in some of the most common clothing stains such as pasta sauces, oil and blood. It’s these enzymes that make biological powders great for removing tough stains and dirt. 

However, biological washing powders can irritate the skin and leave you feeling itchy.  

Non-biological detergents do not contain these enzymes. However, good non-bio detergents will still contain great built-in cleaning power that will ensure your clothing and bedding comes out of the washing machine clean and fresh. These are also good for anyone who has sensitive skin. 

Bearing in mind that your bed linen should not have the stains that your clothing might be susceptible to, non-bio powders should be just fine for bed linen. Our advice would be to stick with non-bio laundry liquids and use a stain booster if you need a little more oomph in your wash. 

First and foremost, make sure you separate out the whites from any darker coloured laundry; colour transfer will gradually (or very quickly, thanks red sock!) make your whites a little dingy. 

Next, pre-treat any stains promptly using a stain remover or a mixture of water and laundry detergent. Try to avoid using bleach as it can weaken fabric over time. Instead, try an oxygen-based stain remover like Wilton London Oxy Bleach or one of our clever eco-hacks.

Unless your whites are particularly dirty, they’ll generally come out as clean as a whistle even washed in cold water. However, for a dirtier wash you might want to use warm or hot water, although be careful as hot water can ‘set’ some stains such as blood, wine and coffee, so a cooler temperature is safer if you’re not sure.  

Consider adding half a cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle as it can help remove any leftover residue and brighten up the fabrics. 

The best way to dry your whites is to hang them out in the sunshine to let those glorious rays work their bleaching magic. Avoid over-drying your whites in the dryer as excessive heat can cause yellowing – use a lower temperature if using the tumble dryer.  

This must be in the top five of our most-asked questions. There are several factors that will help you determine how often you should wash your sheets, but the most important thing is to keep them clean. No one wants to be sleeping in a stale and dirty bed.  

You also want to keep your bed clean to keep dust mites away. These microscopic critters are our main bedroom hazard and feed on dead skin, of which you shed around 14 grams (or half an ounce) each week. Keeping your sheets and bedroom clean means the little mites will have nothing to feed on. 

We generally recommend washing sheets regularly, on a weekly or fortnightly basis. We are huge fans of having that ‘best day of the week’ when you can look forward to finishing your day by slipping into fresh, clean sheets and sighing with a very big smile. 

Whether it’s weekly or fortnightly does depend a little on your very own sleeping habits. Just like cleaning your own self, this does vary so there are a couple of considerations when deciding. You are what makes the bed dirty, so think about how clean you are when you jump in. If you are freshly showered every night before bed and wearing clean pj’s, once a fortnight should be fine. Otherwise, once a week is best and this always happens on a Friday in Molly’s house because she loves the weekend ‘fresh bed’ feeling. Harriet says Sundays are best, ready for a Monday morning. What's your preference? 

Why not use our Clean Sheet Calculator to find out how often you should be changing your bed sheets? 

I'm pretty sure the people of Ancient Rome asked this same question after a soak at the public baths. It's that old! The truth is bath towels are designed to hold onto moisture for longer, which can result in a build-up of crusty minerals, especially in those pesky hard water areas (take a look at this water hardness map to discover the quality of the water where you live). 

The good news is there are a few tricks you can try. Firstly, never underestimate the magic of woollen dryer balls. Similar to line drying your towels on a windy day, these little beauties help agitate the fibres, fluffing them up and making them softer. Secondly, try using a cooler setting on your washing machine, as a hot wash can ‘up’ your towels’ scratchiness. Lastly, most towels are made from natural fibres which, just like your luscious locks, benefit from a little quality conditioner. Although many traditional fabric softeners can leave a coating on your towels and reduce absorbency, a small amount of a good quality fabric conditioner can actually be of benefit to your towels. Why not give Wilton London Fabric Conditioner a go? Rather than containing tallow, which is the tricky substance that causes an irksome buildup on your towels, Wilton’s product contains a wheat-derived ingredient which is actually really effective at maintaining and repairing the fibres, while also making your towels feel (and smell!) fabulous. Just a tiny glug will do the trick. 

How much laundry detergent should I actually be using?

Using the right amount of laundry liquid is often the deciding factor between spotless sheets and bedding spattered with detergent splotches. Unfortunately, as every wash is different, it isn't an exact science; for example, you'll need to use more detergent than the normal if you live in a hard water area or you're washing a particularly dirty load. As a rule, always read the guidelines on the bottle, then, once you've got used to a particular brand, adjust the quantity according to your situation.

Everybody knows that using fabric conditioner makes your laundry feel softer, more bouncy, and more comfortable to sleep in. The softer the bedding the better for us, especially when sleeping in 100% linen. Fabric conditioner makes your clothes softer, and makes it smell fresh too! Softener will reduce the wrinkles in your bedding too, making it much easier to iron. All good?  

Well no, not quite; using a traditional fabric softener can mean that you are adding more chemicals to your wash and fabrics. This is not great for the environment and can also stop the fabric from being as absorbent, and this is something that you definitely might want from your bed linen during the summer months. For this same reason, it’s generally recommended that you never use a softener with your towels. Remember too that your skin is one of the largest organs in the body and absorbs any chemical you put on it.  

However, there are higher quality fabric softeners out there that are safe to use: they make use of natural scents and safe active ingredients with no harmful chemicals. So if you do want to use fabric conditioner, then we recommend doing a little research and choosing one with fewer nasties and more natural botanicals, such as Wilton London Fabric Conditioner. 

We have been on a fabric softener journey over the last few years, trying to find alternatives (white vinegar anyone?) so if you have any tips or facts to share with us, please send them our way so we can be better informed about softeners and whether we should be using them at all? 

The great British weather… one minute you're sweltering through a heat wave, the next you're stuck in a snowstorm. If the forecast is looking unpredictable and you're forced to dry your washing indoors, try to avoid using radiators, as too much heat can cause stiffness and loss of scent (as well as the risk of rust stains from an older radiator!). Place the items on a clothes horse, either in an airing cupboard or close to a radiator and move the bits about regularly to help them dry faster.  

Just keep in mind, laundry dries quickest when placed on the top of the horse and cotton bedding dries more slowly than that made from synthetic fibres. Linen bedding needs a little longer than cotton to dry, but this drying time can be reduced significantly by giving your 100% linen an extra spin in the machine to get as much as water out as possible before hanging it up to dry. 

In short, yes. All of our bed linen can be tumble dried but we recommend a low temperature. Most textiles will shrink a little in the washing/drying process, and hot temperatures will increase the shrinkage. Don’t overfill the dryer, friction inside the machine is what will wear your sheets and shorten their life. We also advise you not toadd towels to the dryer with your bed linen (or anything else!) as, because of their textured surface, they will cause more friction and wearing to your sheets. Line drying is always best if you can; a line full of fresh laundry blowing in the breeze is a wonderful thing. Sit and watch it with a cup of coffee for a moment if it’s sunny.

Dryer balls are little laundry superheroes. Made from plastic, rubber or felted wool, they can be used in place of laundry sheets or softeners to soften fabrics and reduce static cling.Thrown in the dryer with the wet laundry, they also stop fabrics from clumping together in the machine and help speed up drying time.With no chemicals and no single-use plastics, their reusability makes them an economical choice and a popular option for those of us seeking sustainable and environmentally friendly laundry solutions.Top tip: if you don’t want to splash out on dryer balls, but have some tennis balls knocking around, these will work in the same way.

How do you keep laundry smelling fresh for longer?

Heat is a lasting scent's nemesis. The Wilton London Laundry range uses essential oils to create its sweet fragrance, but, if these are heated to a certain temperature and reach their 'flashpoint', they will evaporate. Sam from Wilton’s top tip for making your washing smell heavenly for longer would be to dry your laundry gently and not in a dryer, then fold and store it somewhere cool like your wardrobe.

We all have an ironing basket that is never ending. In the bottom of that basket are things that you forgot you even had. Molly is on a mission to do her ironing as it appears, right to the bottom of the pile. She swears it makes her day better, seeing the empty basket and knowing that everything is put away.  

Store your bed linen inside a pillowcase, pop it away neatly folded and it's all ready for the bed. Podcasts are great for ironing; plug yourself into a good conversation, get the iron out and you will learn something and be entertained at the same time. 

Or if you really do not relish spending the evening ironing, why not keep it to a minimum and switch your bed linen to 100% linen and embrace the wrinkles? 

What is ironing water and do we need it? Ironing water is another product that we can spend our pennies on, but is there any real benefit? Does it make ironing easier? Perhaps it protects your iron from limescale? Or some say it makes ironing more enjoyable… We’re not sure about these claims, but it does however make your laundry smell nice and that’s good enough for us.  

Here is a recipe for some homemade ironing water that you can tailor just for you. 

  • Clean empty spray bottle 
  • 1 pint distilled water (don’t use tap water as the minerals can leave a chalky residue on your ironing) 
  • ¼ cup vodka 
  • 10 or so drops of your favourite essential oil (some favourites are vanilla, lavender, citrus or rosemary, or a combination of your choice) 

Add everything to the bottle and shake it up. Use liberally. This can also be used to freshen up musty clothing or curtains, or on your pillow before you go to sleep. 

For tips on folding laundry, you need to check out the Queen of Space-Saving, Marie Kondo. One easy technique she teaches is incorporating a fold with a roll, but the best bit is the way she stores clothes. Rather than laying each item flat in a drawer, she places them sitting up, which takes up less room and you can see everything in one go by looking down into the drawer. Genius!

Your bed linen may be crisp, your pillows plumped to perfection, but if your mattress is smelling stale, you can kiss those sweet dreams goodbye. The number one rule is to flip your mattress regularly so that you're not always snoozing on the same area. Also, leaving it in the garden on a sunny day is a great way to kill bacteria and dry out any mustiness. 

However, you'll need to go the extra mile if you want to get the best from your mattress. Our favourite trick is spraying the fabric with a mix of equal parts water and vinegar and 10 drops of tee-tree essential oil, then letting it dry in a room with a breeze. Although, dusting your mattress with bicarbonate of soda, leaving it to soak in for a few hours and then vacuuming it, also works a treat.