Doing it wrong: 11 tips for when you do laundry

There are a few rules you need to follow if you want your clothes to stay in good shape in the long run. For example, you probably shouldn't wear white to your next wine tasting, and maybe leave that silk blouse in your closet when it's time to get cozy with your favorite furry friend. But even more than that, it's important to wash your clothes properly. It's no secret that a lot can go wrong during the wash cycle. Here are 11 common laundry mistakes that a lot of us have probably made — time to make a change!

1. Cleaning your washing machine

Whoever thinks the washing machine gets cleaned every time you run it is wrong. You should run your washing machine at least once a year with nothing but hot water and a bit of vinegar. This will clean all the hard to reach places, except for the detergent drawer on some machines; that has to be cleaned manually. Once it's been run, leave the door open so it can dry between cycles. Also, make sure to check the rubber ring around the door if you have a front-load washer; mold can easily take up residence there and needs to be removed.

2. Stain removal

If you rub too vigorously on stains, you can't complain about holes later. Rubbing certain fabrics can weaken them. It's always better to let stains soak and then gently blot them.

3. Poor sorting

Not only do you have to sort laundry by color, you should also sort it by material. Fleece fabrics, for example, need to be washed separately because they require a more gentle cycle. Also, you should never wash towels and clothes together!

picking out clothes

4. Zippers closed, buttons open

To make sure you don't damage other articles of clothing, you should always close your zippers. This likewise protects the zipper "teeth." In contrast, buttons should always stay unbuttoned; they are more easily ripped from clothing otherwise.

open & close (09-18-08)

5. Too much detergent

More isn't always better — and this is true for laundry detergent. If you use too much soap, it may not completely wash out of your clothes, causing your clothes to come out of the wash with white spots. If this happens, you'll have to wash everything again. Also, extra detergent may get left behind in the machine, which may cause mold.

6. Really expensive detergent

A lot of the time, advertisements get to us: nice scents + beautiful packaging = sometimes spending way too much on laundry detergent. In truth, many everyday items are a great help when doing laundry. Salt bleaches; chalk helps fight stains; and lemon juice softens fabrics and smells lovely. I'm sure whoever did the washing in your parents'/grandparents' generation will have a few more tricks up their sleeves!


7. Washing too much at one time

Yes, it's frustrating if just one pair of jeans doesn't quite fit in the machine, but it's actually better to not overfill the washer. If you stuff that last sweater or towel in, you could end up breaking your machine.

Washed Up!

8. Elastic

Spandex clothing should not be washed in a machine. It's better to hand wash these items, e.g. bicycle shorts or swimsuits, in cold water.


9. Duvet fillers and pillows

If you have feather bedding that you wash in the machine, you should always run it twice — the second time without any soap! Since the material is so thick, the detergent is often not fully rinsed out after just one wash.

10. Towels

Fabric softener is great for making clothes soft, but you really shouldn't use it on towels. If you do, your towels will lose their ability to absorb water and the fibers will weaken. Remember: they will soften on their own once you've used them once or twice.


11. Underwear

If you constantly find tiny holes in your clothes, it doesn't necessarily mean you have moths. Bra hooks and wires are often to blame. That's why bras shouldn't be washed with the rest of your clothes unless you place them in a net beforehand. Same goes for velcro, which can roughen up other fabrics. Likewise, pantyhose should always be washed in a net to protect them.

Look at that! With these bits of perhaps newfound knowledge you'll keep your clothes nicer, longer. The contents of your closet and your wallet will thank you! One last tip: It's always good to take a peek at the washing instructions on your clothes. You'd be surprised how many things are meant to be hand wash only.


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