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Are You Making These 8 Laundry Mistakes?

Let's be honest. Laundry isn't as simple and straightforward as many people make it out to be. It's easy to get lost in today's array of cycles, settings, detergents, and fabrics. After all, what does permanent press even mean?

Washing machines and dryers are major financial investments, as are the clothes and linens you put in them. To help you navigate the complex world of laundry and prevent damage to your machines and fabrics, we've rounded up eight of the most common laundry mistakes people make.

1. Using Too Much Detergent

Do you fill your bottle's cap to measure the right amount of detergent? If so, you're using too much detergent. And unfortunately, more detergent does not mean cleaner clothes.

Simply put: excess detergent does the opposite of clean your clothes.

You should only fill the cap about ⅓ full for regular loads, and no more than half full for soiled clothes.

2. Overfilling the Washing Machine

Most people are guilty of stuffing a few extra shirts into the machine. Fewer loads means less water and more savings, right? What most people don't realize is that overfilling the machine is counterproductive and costs more money.

When you pack the machine to the brim, your clothes don't have room to move and rub against one another. This means that your clothes won't get clean, and you'll have to run the load again.

Most washing machines have a line indicating how high you can load them. Always keep your loads below (not at) this line.

3. Rubbing Fabric to Remove Stains

Chances are, whoever taught you to do laundry told you to rub stains to remove them. However, this often makes stains worse and wears away at the fabric.

Dab stains instead of rubbing them. Work from the outside of the stain in to keep the stain from spreading.

4. Leaving Wet Clothes in the Machine

We've all done it. We've all put a load of laundry in the washing machine, only to forget we did so. After sitting for several hours in the machine, wet laundry becomes smelly and can even grow mold.

Remove wet clothes from the washing machine right away. If you can't put clothes in the dryer right away, place the clothes in a ventilated basket to prevent unpleasant odours and mold.

5. Letting the Dryer Rest Between Loads

Some people allow their dryer to rest between loads to prevent overheating. What these people don't realize is that this is inefficient. Running back-to-back loads allows the dryer to retain heat, cutting down on energy use and saving you money.

6. Not Protecting Your Washer from Metal Objects

Zippers, underwires, and coins can all wreak havoc on your washer and dryer. Zippers and bra hooks snag clothing, while coins batter washing machine's glass doors. All these metal items may also damage your washer's drum.

Take proper steps to prevent zippers, bra hooks and wires, and coins from damaging your machines:

  • Zippers: Pull zipper tabs all the way to the top before starting a load of laundry. This prevents either end from flailing about in the machine.
  • Bras: Hand wash bras to prevent them from snagging on other clothing. Or, wash them in an old pillow case.
  • Coins: Check coat, jacket, and pant pockets before placing clothing in the machine.

7. Not Using High-Efficiency Soap

Many modern washers are high-efficiency machines, and they require high-efficiency detergent. HE machines use lower amounts of water, which means regular detergents could overpower the machine because they produce too many suds.

If you have an HE washing machine, be sure to pick up a bottle of HE detergent next time you're at the supermarket.

8. Drying Everything on the Same Heat Setting

Few people know the difference between the "permanent press" and "air dry" settings, so they figure the "regular" setting must be the best option. But just like all clothing is unique, each dryer setting has a specific purpose.

  • Regular: This is the highest heat setting, and is best for heavy fabrics. While it won't shrink your clothes, it might melt some fabrics and set stains and wrinkles. Use it for towels, sheets, and jeans.
  • Permanent Press: This setting uses a medium level of heat. Most permanent press cycles have a cool down period that helps relax fabrics and prevent wrinkles. This cycle is best for most clothing, including shirts, slacks, outerwear, underwear, and socks. It's great for synthetic fabrics, as well as natural fibres.
  • Delicate or Gentle Cycles: As the name suggests, these cycles are best for delicate fabrics. These cycles use low amounts of heat to prevent damage. Use these settings for loosely woven fabrics, fabrics that have any kind of embellishment, and exercise clothing.
  • Air Dry: This setting uses no added heat. It simply pulls room temperature air in to toss or "fluff" fabrics. Since this cycle will not actually dry clothes, it's best for clothes that just need a little freshening up.

Laundry is just one of the many things on your to-do list. Make your life easier by keeping these common mistakes in mind so you can avoid them in the future. Visit an appliance retailer near you for more tips.