They are the washday woes that can easily leave you in a filthy mood.

But if your towels end up feeling harsh, whites go grey and cottons come out all bobbly, help is at hand.

Experts have identified the eight most common laundry problems and issued advice on how to cure them. The Good Housekeeping Institute drew up the list based on the hundreds of emails and letters which Good Housekeeping magazine receives every year from readers seeking washing advice.

Its eight-women testing team spent a fortnight researching the best solutions. Trisha Schofield, 58, a GHI director and member of the testing department for 28 years, said yesterday: "The thing the most people write in about is why their towels don't come out soft.


"People often dry them over radiators - and over-dry them - which makes them really hard and brittle. The best way to dry them is in a tumble dryer. It's also important not to use fabric conditioner every time. It may make them come out fluffy, but it reduces their ability to absorb water. We'd advise only putting fabric conditioner [in] one in every five washes of towels."

If your whites are going grey, it is probably because dirt removed during washing has been redeposited on the clothing as a very thin layer, the GHI says. To cure that, they advise using more detergent - the maximum dose - and washing again at the highest temperature, soaking in a bleach solution and then rinsing thoroughly.

However, it is best to avoid the problem by washing whites separately, they suggest.

Bobbling on cotton and synthetic blends is best prevented by washing garments inside out.

The GHI was set up in 1924 at a time when fewer women were going into domestic service and household appliances were beginning to become more prevalent.
But even after 92 years there is one problem they still cannot cure - jumpers that have shrunk.

"If you machine wash wool at too high a temperature or spin speed, it causes the fibres to felt and go matted, which is irreversible," Mrs Schofield said. "In less severe cases, re-wetting the item and gently stretching it can get it back to the size it should be."