Job Focus: Professional Laundress
We’re currently working on a new role for a client seeking a professional laundress, so we thought therefore it would be an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at this role. While to many the idea of doing laundry might be a rather basic task, for ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals and families there is a great deal more to it than one might initially imagine, and a particular set of skills is called for.
A laundress is employed specifically to clean and look after clothes and other fabrics in the home. An UHNW family will very often have a wide range of high-end, couture, custom made or delicate, expensive items of clothing and footwear, which can require special care and particular cleaning processes in order to maintain them properly. A professional laundress will therefore be armed with extensive knowledge about and experience in caring for different types of fabrics and garments, the use of specialist cleaning products, tools and devices, and be an expert in stain removal. They will know when and how to hand-wash, which items need to be sent for dry cleaning and have the experience to instruct the dry cleaner appropriately, and how the various items of clothing should be correctly stored when not in use.
Some laundresses are also skilled seamstresses or possess tailoring skills, and are able to make alterations and repairs when necessary. Others might be called upon to undertake packing for trips and organising a principal’s wardrobe, however in many larger or more complex residences these tasks might fall to another member of staff, in particular a wardrobe manager.
As is so often the case, we can’t provide an exhaustive list of everything for which a laundress will have responsibility. However, typical tasks will include:
- An exceptionally high standard of washing and ironing clothes, linens, and other household fabrics.
- Possessing an expert knowledge of a wide range of textiles and how to care for their specific requirements.
- Hand washing, and familiarity with a variety of cleaning products (the green credentials of these are becoming much more important), and the use of appropriate devices and machines.
- Organising and taking charge of the household laundry process.
- Managing the instruction, drop-off and collection of items to and from the dry cleaner.
- Stain removal and minor repairs and alterations as necessary.
- Making sure a suitable quantity of clean bed linen is available for the family, their guests, and live-in staff.
- Maintaining footwear in a similar manner to clothing – there might well be specialist care required in some cases.
- Liaison with housekeeping and other household staff, and importantly with the wardrobe manager if one is employed.
- A laundress might, depending how the household is organised and the other staff employed therein, be asked to participate in housekeeping or other tasks around the home.
A professional laundress does not usually require specific formal education or certification. Most will require a good deal of experience however, with many UHNW families and individuals seeking those with three to five years’ experience of professional laundering. Attention to detail is a must, as are good communication skills.