When to play fast and loose with laundry

Laundry is a sexy motherflippin’ subject. If I had to give any man over the age of 35 a tip to get a woman to move in with him it would be this: promise her a laundry room. Want her to move out? Tell her you’re going to smash up the laundry room to make way for your own personal tanning salon.

So that’s my tip. And now here’s my story for today. A few weeks ago on Facebook I noticed that a friend of someone I’d never met was called Isabel de Vasconcellos. I thought this was the most amazing name. So much so that I said it outloud a few times whilst pretending to pick up a telephone and speak into it thus:

“Hello, this is Isabel de Vasconcellos, bring the car round immediately.”
“Hello, this is Isabel de Vasconcellos, I need flowers in every room.”
“Hello? Isabel de Vasconcellos? This is she.”

“Isabel de Vasconcellos” I said to my boyfriend, “isn’t that the most fabulous name you’ve EVER heard? Even more fabulous than my own multi-syllabled, melodic, mellifuous name.

He agreed. So I friended her (she’s a writer/curator) and only occasionally take on her identity when I’m out and about.

Today she messaged me asking if she could put her new top in the wash at 40C, even thought the label says ‘wash at 30’. In order to answer her I had to know the fibre content. I suspected viscose and I was right. It contained 85% viscose, the rest was polyamide and elastane.

Now, viscose’s (more commonly known as rayon in the US) easy-to-wearness belies a fragility. It’s great in garments as it makes them hang so nicely and they can need very little ironing. But, if wrongly washed they can shrink. She didn’t need to worry about the polyamide part as polyamide is just the European name for nylon (just as Tactel is nylon but it’s a brand name) and elastane is the generic of Lycra (also a brand name, hence the upper case).

The fact that the top was black was in its favour as white garments with synthetic fibres can, if washed at too high a temperature, go grey.

So my advice was to wash it at 30C to be on the safe side. There will come a time when it mistakenly goes in at 40C and then she’ll discover if it can withstand that extra ten degrees. But until then, don’t play fast and loose with viscose or rayon clothing. I speak as someone who has never dry cleaned cashmere – it always goes in to the washing machine but only if it has a hand wash cycle. (And bear in mind I’ve never had anything other than an AEG or Miele machine.) Natural fibres* you see, are – up to a point – more forgiving than certain synthetics.

*viscose/rayon is a man made fibre from a natural polymer (cellulose).   Polyamide and elastane, since you ask, are manmade fibres from a synthetic polymer – petrochemicals.

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