It’s obviously more cost-effective to wash a full load of laundry, but never be tempted to mix colour or sensitivity categories to make up your load; you could end up ruining garments that will be expensive to replace. Instead, separate your clothing into three colour groups: whites, mid-colours (greys and pastel shades) and darks. Also, separate garments that need a gentle or hand wash, such as jumpers (as opposed to garments that can withstand a more vigorous machine wash).
Common stains like red wine or pasta sauce should be flushed through with cold water as soon as possible. Always blot and never rub a stain — you can smear it into the fabric and damage cottons and silks. There are many good stain-removing products on the market, so try experimenting and find one that works for you. You can also use washing-up liquid as an inexpensive degreasing agent to pre-treat things like soiled cuffs and collars.
Before you do anything, make sure you’re familiar with the machine you’re using. If it has variable controls you’ll be able to dictate the temperature and the spin cycle. Try to wash items at an appropriate temperature. Jeans, for example, wash very well at 40 degrees, but modern detergents are effective at colder temperatures and washing items like T-shirts on a gentle/cold setting will help preserve them. Always check clothing labels, making note of any special instructions, and never overload your machine because dirt will simply be re-deposited on your clothing. In fact, using a fabric softener with a reduced load, on a light spin cycle, will help diminish creasing and minimise the need for ironing.
Most items will dry well either on the washing line or in a tumble dryer. Again, pay close attention to garment labels and the required tumble dryer temperature settings.
Hanging items like jackets, trousers and knitwear will help keep them looking pristine. If they are damp, let them dry naturally. Never drape them over a radiator or leave them in direct sunlight. Other items should be folded and stored in a cool, dry environment to help preserve their shape and freshness.