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Golden rules for laundry care

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Fine linens are meant to be used and enjoyed. Previously, we discussed the components of a perfect bed for restful sleep, but what about the fine linens and fabrics we care for? What is the proper way to care for the expensive bedding, table linens and towels onboard?

Top-quality products require special care and must be washed, dried, ironed and stored properly to maintain their value and quality.

Here are the Golden Rules for basic laundry care:

  • Bed linens, table linens, and towels should be pre-washed separately before initial use. Read the care labels and follow instructions.
  • Separate colors and fabric types properly. Launder polyester and terry cloth separately from 100 percent cotton or linen to prevent pilling.
  • Pretreat stains quickly.
  • Avoid overloading machines. This prevents excessive fabric abrasion and fiber breakdown. Overloading creates a ton of wrinkles, and fabrics do not get clean.
  • Use gentle soap or detergent, and measure correctly. Too much detergent weakens fabrics, leaves a residue and causes oxidation spots. Set the second cycle to remove any excess.
  • Avoid additives, chlorine bleaches and softeners. Use oxygen bleach if needed.
  • Fabric softener causes buildup on fabrics and makes towels less absorbent. It can also build up in dryer vent lines and create a fire hazard.
  • Temperature matters. Too much heat causes shrinkage, and damages and weakens fibers.

Bed linens

  • Wash in warm water on the gentle cycle with a cold water rinse.
  • Shake out wrinkles before placing items in the dryer.
  • Dry sheets on warm cycle and remove them while still slightly damp to minimize wrinkles. Smooth and hang to dry or press with an iron. Line drying is best for expensive linens. (Good luck with that on a yacht, however.)

Towels

  • To ensure towels are clean and sanitized, do not overload machines.
  • Wash on medium heat or sanitize on hot cycle. Tumble dry on low to medium heat.

Table linens

  • Wash delicate or lace-embellished linens in a zippered bag to prevent damage.
  • Avoid twisting.

Dry cleaning

  • Luxury fibers such as cashmere, merino and alpaca, and formal items such as matelassé should be dry cleaned by a reputable professional.

Ironing

  • Iron items on the reverse side while they are still slightly damp. The steam vents on a steam iron can leave marks, so use with care.
  • Iron cotton on warm or hot. Linen needs to be damper, and use a higher temperature. Dampen or spritz with water instead of using the steam function on the iron.
  • For damask table linens, iron first on the reverse side, then on the front side to bring out the sheen
  • Lay embroidered linens and fabrics face down on a towel and iron on the reverse side to keep the three-dimensional effect.
  • Use a pressing cloth to prevent tearing delicate lace and cutwork.

Storage

  • Make sure towels, sheets and table linens are fully dry before storing in a cool, dry and well-ventilated space.
  • Creases should not be pressed into napkins and table linens. This weakens the fibers. Table cloths should be rolled onto cardboard tubes or hung on tissue paper-covered hangers.
  • Stews should understand the quality of the linens onboard and learn the proper treatment methods for different kinds. Linen care is one of the most important parts of our jobs in maintaining the yachts we serve on.
  • With proper care and storage, fine linens will last a lifetime. We actually become rather fond of these fine fabrics and see them as the heirloom quality items that they are. Having exquisite-looking linens provides a sense of satisfaction and makes our jobs more fun

Alene Keenan is lead instructor of yacht interior courses at Maritime Professional Training in Ft. Lauderdale. She shares her experience from more than 20 years as a stew in her book, “The Yacht Guru’s Bible: The Service Manual for Every Yacht”, available at amazon.com. Comments are welcome at editor@the-triton.com.

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