IELTS laundry step-by-step process diagram

I came across this IELTS task one process diagram question recently on Facebook and thought that it looked really hard! It can be easy as an IELTS tutor to just pick interesting questions where it is easy to show off some good techniques, so I thought it would be a good idea to do the…

Laundry Task One Question

The flow chart below explains how laundry is handled. Describe the process using the information below.

Laudry collected from suppliers.


Towels and linen separated.


Laundry loaded into laudry bags


Washing cycle takes two hours.


Bags transported and loaded into laundry machine.


Laundry is partially drained from the laundry by pressing.


Towels are dried completely.



Linen is left half-wet.


Linen ironed.


Laundry transported to folding machine.

Band nine sample answer

This diagram describes the daily operations of a laundry service. The company processes linen and towels in a ten step process. Overall, the laundry is collected before being sorted, washed, dried and folded. Although the process is mostly similar for towels and linen, there are a few minor differences which I will outline below. 

Initially, the company collects the washing from its clients. Once it has been gathered, they sort the towels from the other linen and place them in separate laundry bags. These bags are taken to the washing machines where they are inserted to be cleaned. After two hours have passed, the laundry is pressed to remove some water. 

After this, the process becomes more complex as towels and linen have different methods of drying. While the linen is allowed to partially dry before being ironed, the towels have to dry completely without being ironed. At this point, everything should be bone dry. As soon as that is the case, the laundry, both towels and linen, are transported to be folded ready to be used again.

Why is this answer band nine? 

To be honest, sometimes process diagrams can be a bit boring to write about as there isn’t that much to say. That is the case here too! However, it is good to practice these types of questions as they can be tricky, especially in terms of structure. 


For an IELTS task one process diagram, you need to give a brief introduction to what the diagram is about before giving an outline of the major steps of the process. After this is complete, you should spend two paragraphs going into more detail. As you can see, that format is followed well in this essay. 

The hardest part of an essay like this is writing the outline. If you just list all the stages here, it would be a description rather than an outline. As such, the key to a process diagram outline is breaking down the process into smaller stages that can be summarized. In this question, we have ten stages. However, I have managed to break these down into five bigger stages where the laundry is: collected, sorted, washed, dried and folded. 


There are not too many high level words for describing laundry, so I had to be a bit creative here. I have highlighted a few examples of words that might be useful. 


In this context, the operations of a company are the things it does every day. 


If you gather things, you bring them together from many places to one place. 

Washing machine

A washing machine is a machine which washes clothes. 

Bone dry

If something is completely dry, you can call it ‘bone dry’. 

Linking words for a process diagram

When you are describing a process, you need to make sure you are showing the order things happen in. There are several linking words and phrases that can help you with this: 

The laundry is collected before being sorted, washed, dried and folded. 

If I had written ‘The laundry is collected, sorted, washed, dried and folded.’, that would be a bit boring. By using this ‘collected before being’ structure, I can make a more interesting sentence. 


If something happens initially, it happens as a first step. 

After two hours have passed, 

In other words, two hours go by and then this happens. 

After this, 

If thing A happens after thing B, it means thing B happens first and thing A happens second. 

Once it has been gathered, 

This is another way of saying ‘after it has been gathered’.

At this point, everything should be bone dry.

Saying ‘At this point’ highlights a specific time. In this sentence, it says that the laundry needs to be dry before the next thing happens. 

As soon as,

We use ‘As soon as’ in this way to show that once one thing ends, another begins. 

Final thoughts: What should you do with a tough IELTS question?

I had far less fun writing this essay than I usually do. There isn’t as much room to show off here as there is in other essays. However, I still managed to put together a band nine answer.

What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? The most important thing is to remember the structure of what you are supposed to be writing. You can always try and rephrase sentences that might seem boring into a more exciting format. Our IELTS grammar classes are focused on grammar you can use in any essay, even a boring one! Check out our class on appositives and although for some grammar I’ve used above.

All in all, it might not be fun to write an essay like this, but it’s good practice and it shows you don’t need to be too worried about tough questions in the IELTS exam. It’s always possible to find something to say.

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