Think doing the laundry was as simple as grabbing an armful of dirty laundry, pouring in a random amount of detergent and fabric softener and pressing go? Think again. We’ve listed some of the most common mistakes people make when doing the laundry.
Do any of these sounds familiar? By fixing them, you could save time and money.
1. Not using the available programmes
All washing machines have standard programmes, such as cottons and synthetics, and the vast majority of people stick to these – with the occasional change in temperature.
Most washing machines also have various other programmes, such as delicates, wool and sportswear, to name just a few. These programmes automatically adjust the temperature, spin speed, cycle length and other factors to ensure the best possible wash.
By selecting the appropriate programme you could cut down on the water and energy consumption – saving money on your bills and giving the environment a helping hand. You can also avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your clothes.
2. Not zipping up zips
Zips, and other fastenings, on clothing should be done up before going in the wash. The fastenings can get caught and damage other clothing whilst in the washing machine – they’re called teeth for a reason.
3. Not turning clothes inside out before washing
There are a few reasons for turning your clothes inside out.
The thousands of rotations in each wash cause friction between the clothes. This friction can cause printed graphics to fade and also cause pilling on certain fabrics such as wool and cashmere – by turning the clothing inside out, the wear and pilling will be on the inside rather than the outside.
Similar to mistake number 2, turning your clothes inside out means all the buttons, sequins, rivets, etc will be on the inside. This means there’s less chance of a button getting caught and pulled off or sequins being removed.
Turning your clothes inside out is also said to prevent colours fading as quickly in the wash. Although this may not be as true today as it used to be, due to improved fabric quality and colour fastness, when it comes to hanging clothes on the washing line this is still important. The ultra-violet light in sunrays breaks down dye molecules, causing the colour to fade. Hanging out to dry inside out means the inside, rather than the outside, of the clothes will fade.
4. Using too much detergent
This is one of the most common mistakes when it comes to laundry. The misconception that using more detergent results in cleaner clothes is partly to blame for this. The size of your load is the most important factor when measuring out detergent.
Many detergents now come with scoops or dosage balls, with guide lines and markings, to help you use the correct amount of detergent. However, these markings can often be hard to see and people still end up guessing how much detergent to use.
Using too much detergent, be it liquid or powder, can leave your clothes with a soapy residue that can fade colour and attract more dirt. Not to mention the fact it will cost you more money.
It’s also worth remembering that if you’re in a soft water area, you can probably get away with less detergent.
5. Not pre-treating stains
There are 101 different methods for removing stains from clothes – lemon juice for sweat marks, toothpaste for grass stains, bread for lipstick – but they all have one thing in common. You must treat the stain before it goes in the wash and the quicker you treat it the better.
And remember… dab don’t rub!
We’ve all been there – you start putting dirty laundry in the washing machine and there are a few items you know won’t fit. You should save them for another load, but most of us squeeze them in anyway.
Overloading the washing machine causes the clothes to clump together and move around in one big mass. This stops the detergent from being evenly distributed or rinsed properly, which can mean your clothes come out as dirty as they went in.
Overloading the washing machine can also damage the drum and bearings, so the machine has a shorter lifespan.
7. Not checking clothing labels
You can take a lot of the guesswork out of doing the laundry by simply reading the care labels that are attached to clothing.
The picture to the right shows some of the most common symbols found on care labels and their meanings.
The care labels also often have information regarding dry cleaning and whether or not an item can be bleached.
8. Not protecting your delicates
Delicate items such as silk, cashmere and wool require extra care when being cleaned. Ideally these items should be hand washed, in lukewarm water, to prevent any damage to the fibres that may occur when in the washing machine.
If you don’t have the time to hand wash, then selecting the right washing machine programme is vital. Specialist programmes such as delicates, wool and hand wash reduce the temperature and spin speed to give your clothing some extra TLC.
Bras are another item of clothing that require a bit of extra care when going in the washing machine. Placing them in a washable mesh bag stops the straps from catching on other items and being stretched.
9. Not checking pockets
This is pretty self-explanatory. There isn’t much worse than getting your laundry out of the machine to realise a tissue had been left in a pocket and it’s now all over your clean washing. Or even worse, putting your hand in a pocket after the wash and realising you left money in there.
A quick check of pockets, either before adding to the laundry basket or putting in the machine, could save you having to wash items again to remove disintegrated tissue.
10. Not sorting your laundry
By washing whites and colours together you run the risk of the colours bleeding into each other and your whites coming out pink.
At the very least, separating darks, such as red and purple, and lights, such as pastel colours and whites, should keep your clothes looking good. If you have a bit more time on your hands, separating your laundry into whites, darks, lights and jeans will ensure the best possible results.
The last mistake people make is using an old, less-efficient washing machine. Upgrading to a new model could improve washing performance, as well as reducing the amount of energy and water used with each wash.