10 Shocking Laundry Mistakes You Are Probably Making

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Laundry. Like it or not, it is something that has to be done. But are you doing it right? Are you using the right amount of detergent? Are you overloading or overdoing the bleach? Find out the answers to these questions along with some useful tips along the way.

Here are 10 Shocking Laundry Mistakes You Are Probably Making

1. You fill the washer incorrectly. You should always fill a top load washing machine with water first, then add your detergent, right? Well, not anymore. This protocol from the past was meant to prevent residue on your clothes and the machine. But newer detergents are phosphate-free and not harmful to fabrics the way old formulas were. As long as you’re not using bleach, don’t add clothing after the water (a pain, because clothes can float). Instead, use this order to distribute detergent best: clothes, then water, then soap.

2.You throw in a little extra detergent. Excess suds can hold dirt pulled from clothes and get caught in areas that won’t always rinse clean, like under a collar, leading to bacteria buildup. The remedy: Use only half the amount of detergent that you normally do, then gradually increase that amount if your clothes are not coming out as clean as you would like. An exception: If you have hard water, you may actually need more soap than you are using. Check the recommendation for hard water on your detergent bottle.

3. You rub stains too vigorously. This can make the stain worse and possibly wear away the fabric. Instead, be gentle and methodical. Treat the stain as soon as you can; the quicker you get to it, the more success you’ll have. And always use a white cloth so that colors can’t transfer. Dab, rather than rub, working from the outside in to keep the stain contained.

4. You don’t zip your zippers all the way to the top before washing. Metal teeth can snag delicate and woven clothing that’s being washed in the same load.

5. You leave your shirts buttoned. This may seem like a good idea, but it can stress buttons and buttonholes and lead to premature poppage. Take the time to unbutton before tossing clothes in the washer or better yet, the hamper.

6. You wash “dry clean only” clothing. While this isn’t always a blunder, you should first check for colorfastness; moisten a cotton swab with mild detergent and dab it on a hidden seam to see if any dye comes off. If not, go ahead and dunk the garment in soapy water just once or twice, then rinse and immediately roll it in a towel to extract moisture. This works with natural fibers, such as linen and most silks. However, you should stick with dry-cleaning for certain categories: leather, suede, silk dupioni, anything with embellishments and structured pieces like blazers.

7. You overuse bleach. Think twice before you reach for the bleach. You actually don’t need it to get rid of protein stains, like blood, sweat and tears.  Alternative option: Toss stained whites into a big pot of water with a few lemon slices and bring to a boil for a few minutes, transfer clothing to washing machine that has been filled with water and 1/2 cup of baking soda.

8. You haven’t leveled your washing machine. If your washer is not level, vibrations can damage your floor and prematurely wear out key components, like the shock absorbers and the tub bearings. Not to mention that terrible clunking noise. Place a level on top of the machine and adjust the feet, which typically screw up and down, until level. If this doesn’t help, add a piece of 3/4-inch-thick piece of plywood that’s a little larger than the machine’s base. It will help absorb vibrations.

9. You let your dryer rest. Sounds odd we know, but some people like to wait an hour after one cycle concludes before putting in a new load. But in fact, running back-to-back dryer loads is smart and efficient. It lets you take advantage of retained heat from the previous cycle, cutting down on energy usage.

10. You don’t clean your dryer. Even though you empty the lint filter after each use (right?), lint buildup can clog the duct over time and become a fire hazard. A sure sign that your dryer is clogged? It takes more than an hour to dry a load. Once a year, detach the hose from the back of the dryer and snake a long brush through to push out lint. Also scrub the lint filter once a year with a small toothbrush and a bit of detergent. Rinse, and air-dry completely.

Photo Credit: Big Stock