I have been doing laundry for many years, for five people, but in the past few weeks I’ve learned my most expensive two lessons. First of all, never put a king size velvet and silk Pottery Barn quilt into your French washing machine whose capacity is 8 kilos. Just because you can stuff it in there and close the door doesn’t mean you should. I had to buy a new washing machine as a result, but the quilt was undamaged.

The next, and far more painful lesson–never put an expensive brand-new Lacoste merino wool sweater into the wash, even on the ‘handwash’ setting. The care label on the sweater shows the image of a hand being dipped into water. They are serious. My new washing machine has a setting that says ‘handwash.’ These are definitely not the same. I now have two brand new Lacoste merino wool sweaters, size 40. I wear one, and my three-year-old son wears the other. I contemplated going to the Lacoste store and protesting–I swear, I DID handwash it–my husband says I will certainly lose.

Consider yourself warned.