Lots of people love the smell of clean laundry just out of the dryer and ready to go even though doing laundry may rank as one of their least favorite chores. Sometimes, in the rush to get it done and out of the way, errors could easily be made which could impact your laundry in a negative way.
This list is a how-to for best laundry practice, rather than how to repair mistakes already made. The upside to all this is clothing and linen that will last longer and look better, not to mention saving your washer and dryer from incorrect usage.
Before even mentioning errors and how to avoid them, there are 2 simple rules to follow:
- Take the time to read your owner’s manual. It will give you specific information about your machine that may be different than any other washer or dryer you may have used. It may tell you what kind of detergent it needs, and how the cycles work as well as proper safety and installation techniques to name just a few instructions.
- Always check the laundry symbols on clothes. This may seem obvious but it’s easy to forget to do this if you’re in a hurry. For instance, if the item is a dry cleaner only item, you don’t want to be sorry when it comes out misshapen and unwearable.
1. There’s More than One Way to Sort Laundry
Almost everyone knows to sort light and dark colored clothing separately. But there are other ways to sort.
- Sort by material. Separate heavy items from lighter items, (e.g. jeans and sweaters from blouses and dress shirts). Delicate fabrics can be damaged by heavy items. This also helps the drying process as heavy items take longer to dry.
- Bulky items such as towels and bedding are better washed by themselves and not with clothing.
- Separate really dirty clothing from lightly soiled clothing.
- Separate laundry items that shed lint from those that attract it.
2. Less is More When It Comes to Detergent
Many machines today are high efficiency (HE) models. They generally use less soap than the older models. Using too much detergent can actually cause a build-up on your items, and dirt and grime may get caught on clothing and linens instead of being washed away.
A couple of factors to be aware of:
- Type of machine (front loader, top loader)
- Type of detergent (powder or liquid)
Always check your owner’s manual to see what is recommended and follow directions for whatever type of detergent you plan to use.
3. Add Detergent in the Right Place
If your washing machine has a soap dispenser, always put your laundry detergent there. Putting detergent directly onto clothing means that soap will not be evenly distributed, and clothes may not be as clean as they should be.
For a top loader with no soap dispenser there are a couple of opinions:
- add the detergent to the bottom of the drum and then add laundry; or
- add laundry, start the machine and wait for the tub to fill with water and then add detergent.
To be on the safe side, always check your owner’s manual and follow the instructions.
4. Be Careful with Bleach
Bleach can be helpful in trying to get out stains or keeping your whites bright, but excessive bleach use can irritate your skin. If you do need to use bleach, a safe recommendation is to use only a ½ cup of bleach for a large load of laundry.
5. Don’t Overfill Your Machines
Overfilling your washer can damage your machine over time. An overloaded machine also means that there won’t be enough space for water and detergent to properly soak and wash your clothes. Doing an extra load or doing laundry more often will both save your machine and clothing in the long run.
This is also true of your dryer. Overfilling your dryer means you may likely overdry some of your clothing while other clothing items may still be damp.
6. Don’t Let it Bleed
So, you bought that fun, brightly colored shirt. But now you wonder if you’ll have to hand wash it. Try this test to find out if it’s colorfast or not. Lightly wet a small spot, and then blot it with a cloth to see if the dye bleeds. Do this in a discreet spot.
7. Gently Rub, Don’t Scrub Stains
Oh no! What’s that wine stain doing on my beautiful new white blouse? Time for an aggressive scrubbing to get that stain out! Stop right there.
You might think the best method to treat a stain is to scrub it as hard as you can with detergent but this could actually make things worse. It might even result in the stain spreading and a wearing away of the material.
Instead, gently rub the stain with a stain removal product or white vinegar, making sure to work from the outside toward the center. The earlier you treat it, the better. Then, pop it into the washer as soon as possible.
For more information on treating stains, the American Cleaning Institute has a great stain removal guide.
8. Zip Up Those Pants, Unbutton Those Shirts and Hook Up Your Bras!
Pants and especially jeans or other items that are unzipped in the washer may cause small tears and snags in your other items. Avoid this by simply zipping everything up.
Similarly, this could occur with unclipped bras. The clip part can tug on fabrics or even damage the drum if they fling around loosely. Placing them in a laundry bag is a good idea.
Washing a shirt with the buttons fastened may end up ripping the buttons from their holes. Unfasten all buttons to protect your items.
9. Lightly Dry Your Clothes When Possible
Over-drying can cause your clothes to become more wrinkled, staticky, and can even cause the fibers to break down faster.
Air-drying for delicate clothing and stretchy fabrics is almost always your best bet if you’re not pressed for time. You save energy and of course it’s much gentler on clothing.
10. Clean your Machine
Dirt, grime, and lint can build up in your washing machine if it’s not cleaned properly. This can cause clogging in the detergent dispenser and pipes that drain the water, resulting in not enough soap dispensed or laundry left with residue on it at the end of the rinse cycle.
Check your owner’s manual to find out how your washing machine should be properly and safely deep cleaned. Then clean it monthly or as often as you feel necessary. And, check out our recent blog on how to clean your washing machine.
You can rely on C&W Appliance Service for repair and maintenance to all your major appliances. Call us at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form for prompt, reliable service.