By now, doing the laundry probably seems like a no-brainer. You toss the dirty clothes into the washing machine with some detergent, transfer them to the dryer when the wash is done, throw in a fabric softening sheet, set the timer and call it a day. But there are a few steps you might be missing that could be compromising the cleanliness and look of your clothes. If you’re making any of these nine laundry mistakes, it might be time to reevaluate your routine.
1. Letting stains dry before removing them
If you usually just toss stained clothes in your hamper and wait until the next laundry day to attempt to remove it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s much harder to get stains out of clothes when they’ve already dried, so you have to act fast. If you don’t get to it in time, you may have to use a much stronger stain remover or put it through the wash multiple times to treat it.
2. Rubbing stains out
When it comes to stains, rubbing isn’t your best removal method. It might seem more effective than blotting, but it’s actually not. Real Simple magazine reported that rubbing a stain too furiously can sink the stain deeper into the fabric and even start to wear away at the material. The source suggested using a white cloth to prevent color transfer, then blotting a fresh stain from the outside in.
3. Loading the washer unevenly
Front-loading washers don’t have this issue, but if you have the other type, you could be messing up the wash cycle by loading dirty laundry in unevenly. The Huffington Post pointed out that your washer might stop in the middle of a cycle or not even start at all if the weight isn’t evenly distributed around the basin. Or, if it does start, you might end up with a loud cycle that moves your washing machine several inches in the process.
4. Going too hot
Unless you have extremely dirty laundry, chances are you can go with a cooler water temperature. Cold should do the trick most of the time, and otherwise warm is a better option than hot. This will help save you money on your energy bills and reduce the chances of clothes shrinking.
5. Using too much detergent
You might think that the more suds, the better, but this isn’t the case. According to Real Simple, extra detergent bubbles can hold dirt pulled from clothes and get stuck in areas of the washer that don’t always rinse clean, like under the collar, which can lead to bacteria buildup. Detergents are also more concentrated these days, and if you use too much, it could wear out the fabric of your favorite clothes and linens, according to The Huffington Post. Follow the directions on your detergent label, and increase slightly as needed if you notice your clothes aren’t clean enough.
6. Leaving clothes in the washer or dryer for too long
Whether you leave a load sitting in the washer or the dryer, chances are they’re not going to come out as nice as you’d expect. Clothes left in the washer for too long can develop a sour smell, reported The Huffington Post, while those left in the dryer can come out all wrinkled. Set a timer on your phone to alert you to the end of a cycle if you tend to forget.
7. Not sorting
If you’re not separating your laundry by color or material before a cycle, your clothes probably don’t look as crisp and vibrant as they should. Separate your darks from your lights to start, then take it a step further by leaving delicate fabrics out and washing them in their own cycle.
8. Not checking pockets
Especially if you’re doing laundry for an entire family, you never know what kinds of things might end up going through the wash because they were left in pockets. Gum, pens, markers, crayons, lighters, lip balm, electronics and all kinds of other things could accidently get tossed in with a load, so it always pays to check. Otherwise, you might end up with a pile of stained clothes.
9. Not cleaning your machines
Your washer and dryer need regular maintenance to make sure they’re working properly and keeping your clothes and linens in top shape. In addition to regularly cleaning out the lint trap of your dryer, Real Simple recommended detaching the hose from the back of the dryer one a year and snaking a long brush through to push lint out that could be a fire hazard and make your loads take forever to dry. You should also give the lint filter a good scrub every now and then so it’s as clear as possible. As for your washer, every now and then you should run an empty cycle with hot water and some white vinegar to get rid of bacteria.
Are you guilty of any of these laundry mistakes?