When you first started doing your own laundry, did someone teach you how to do it, or did you simply read the instructions on your label and hope for the best? Chances are, even if someone taught you how to do your laundry, there are still some mistakes that they (and you) are making unknowingly, especially if you learned on an older washer or dryer. Even if you are doing everything right, there are still some common tips that could save your clothes and appliances. Let’s take a look at some of the most common laundry mistakes and tips for avoiding them.
There is more to sorting laundry than simply separating light and dark colors. You should also sort by how soiled they are as well as their fabric make up. For example, you shouldn’t toss a thin, delicate scarf with thick clothes that have zippers. And if you have one of your lightly colored flannel shirts that you used for gardening, you may not want to throw that in with the rest of your lights, or you’ll risk getting those dirty as well.
While you can make exceptions for large loads or heavily soiled loads, using too much detergent on a regular basis can be bad for your clothing and your skin. Don’t assume that using more detergent will make your clothes cleaner. What actually happens is that the extra soap suds pull dirt from clothes and get stuck in areas that are typically difficult to rinse clean, including pockets and under the collars of turtlenecks and other shirts. That dirt then sits in those areas and can lead to a buildup of bacteria.
Always follow the instructions on the label of whatever detergent brand you buy, and don’t assume that all instructions are the same. Some detergents are more concentrated than others. If your clothes aren’t coming out clean, you may want to consider switching to a new brand of detergent.
Unzipped clothing in your washer and dryer can harm other clothing in the load, as the zipper can catch on clothing and snag them. The same is true with bras, as the hooks can catch on other items of clothing as well. Zip up your jeans and be sure to clasp your bras before washing them. The opposite is true for buttoned clothing, however. Always unbutton your clothing before washing and drying it. If you leave it buttoned, you risk loosening the threads that attach the buttons to the garment.
Don’t assume that the more you scrub a stain, the more you’ll be able to get out. Doing so can backfire, and the stain could grow. Try blotting instead of scrubbing by simply dabbing the stain from the outside in. Do it as soon as possible so the stain doesn’t dry and become harder to clean.
You may assume that certain garments with dry cleaning instructions can be washed on your machine’s delicate setting, and you may be right—sometimes. It is always better to be safe than sorry. If there are instructions that say to dry clean the garment, then take them to the cleaners or risk ruining your clothes. Keep in mind that suede, leather, and silk should never be cleaned in your washer.
Garment bags are quite handy for washing smaller items like socks, not to mention keeping them all together, too. Anyone who has a collection of orphaned socks or who has pulled on a pair of leggings only to find one hidden in them knows the struggle of accounting for every sock after doing a load of wash. Putting socks and undergarments into a garment bag keeps them together during washing and drying, making them much easier to find and sort afterward.
The permanent press cycle on your washing machine uses warm water to relax wrinkles and then cold water to prevent shrinking and color fading. It then spins slowly to prevent new wrinkles from forming. The permanent press feature on your dryer is a shorter cycle than most and slightly cooler than the average regular drying setting, which makes this feature great for wrinkle prevention. Just be sure to take your clothes out of the dryer right away and shake them out so they don’t wrinkle as they continue to dry. It is important to note, however, that permanent press is best used for synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, acrylic, and rayon, as well as knitwear. Never use permanent press on delicates.
If you have ever made any of the mistakes mentioned here—or if you’re currently making these mistakes—hopefully, this guide will help save you time and energy—and maybe your clothes, too!