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Laundry Myths & Common Mistakes

May 4, 2019

The laundry is just one of those chores that you have to do. After all, your clothes won’t wash themselves! You wouldn’t want that pile in your hamper to start smelling now, would you?

That’s not the only reason why you should be doing the laundry. Clean clothes will also help to minimize bacteria, which can spread and cause infections. Not to mention that it’s better for your skin. Why? Soiled clothes can have dirt and sweat embedded in the fibers, which can irritate your skin.

Fortunately, there’s an invention that can help us with this task—the almighty washing machine. All we have to do is load our clothes in, add a bit of detergent, and press a button! From there, we just wait for the washer to do its magic—that is, wash our clothes. Can you imagine how tedious it would be if we had to wash everything with a washboard? You know, like in the old days?

Doing the Laundry Properly

Doing the laundry is a relatively simple task. However, there are certain things that you want to avoid with specific items. One wrong step and you can easily ruin your favorite top. Take cotton t-shirts, for instance, they tend to shrink in the dryer!

As a general rule, you should always read the care instruction label that comes with your garments; that small tag will let you know exactly how to wash the specific item. This is especially true when you’re washing it for the first time!

12 Common Laundry Mistakes That You Might Be Making

Not sure whether or not you’re doing the laundry properly? To help you with that, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common laundry mistakes that people make when they’re washing their clothes.

Follow along—you might just learn a thing or two!

1. Using Too Much Detergent

Adding too much detergent is a no-no. You might think that it’ll make your clothes cleaner but it actually has the opposite effect. Essentially what happens is that there will be detergent residue leftover on the fabric.

using too much detergent

This is bad for several reasons:

  • More water is required to rinse off the detergent
  • It can cause skin irritation if not washed off properly
  • It can attract dirt and bacteria
  • The detergent can discolor some clothes
  • It can leave a strong fragrance, which might not always be a good thing

Another thing to consider is the impact that it has on the environment. As it is, most laundry detergents consist of many chemical components. Introduced to the waterways, they can lead to the eutrophication of fresh water.

Have a feeling that your clothes are not clean enough? If so, you might want to switch to another detergent as opposed to using more detergent.

Note: It’s worth noting that there is one exception to this rule—that is, you might actually need to use more detergent if you have hard water.

2. Ignoring the Stains

We get it, stains happen. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget about them too. But the last thing that you want is to have your mud-covered shirt sitting in the laundry basket for a few days at a time. That will only make it harder to wash. Don’t want to ruin your piece of clothing? Then treat the stain right away!

This might be obvious but the quicker you treat a stain, the greater the chance that you’ll be able to get rid of it. Ultimately, what you want to do is to soak it in a soapy solution—fill a container with cold water and add in a small amount of detergent. Ensure that it’s thoroughly mixed before putting your stained garments in; that will allow you to remove the stains with ease.

3. Overloading Your Washing Machine

We all want to be efficient with our laundry but overloading the drum will just make the job more difficult for you. After all, it will make it harder for the machine to distribute the water and detergent, which can lead to half-cleaned clothes.

Pay attention to how many shirts you’re stuffing into your water. Don’t stuff it all in just to get it all done in one go—sometimes, you’ll have to separate them into multiple loads. Also, it’s important to make sure that your clothes aren’t tangled before you press the start button.

4. Ignoring the Lint Trap

The lint trap is exactly what it sounds like—it traps the lint from your clothes that would otherwise clog up the exhaust pipe. But did you know that you should always empty it before starting a new cycle? Why? It helps to increase the efficacy of the machine. When it’s filled with lint, the dryer actually has to work harder due to it being heated to a higher temperature.

empty your lint trap

Another big reason that you want to clean your lint filter is that it can actually be a fire hazard. In fact, it’s much more likely for your dryer to burst into flames due to a dirty lint trap than an electrical problem! According to the USFA, nearly 2,000 dryer fires are reported each year—many of which are due to issues with the filter!

Not only should you empty the lint trap every time you use the dryer, but you should also give it a good clean every once in a while. You can do this by brushing it with a bit of water and detergent. Let it air dry and you can pop it back into the dryer.

5. Ignoring Care Instruction Labels

As mentioned above, you always want to check out the clothing labels before throwing something in the wash. They’re key to preserving your fabrics—after all, they let you know exactly what you should and shouldn’t do with the item. For instance, some shirts may be machine washable whereas others may be dry clean only.

The label will also tell you what kind of water to wash the item with—that is, whether it requires cold or hot water. In some cases, the latter can cause the material to shrink or deteriorate! Considering that, you should never ignore the clothing label.

6. Rubbing Stains

Remember what we said earlier about stains? You want to treat them as soon as possible. However, that does not mean that you should be scrubbing them. That might be your first instinct, but it’ll actually do more harm than good.

do not rub stains

The friction from the movement can easily wear away the fabric. Not to mention that it can spread the stain further! Instead of scrubbing the spot, gently dab it with a sponge or a cloth. You want to work from the outside so that you’ll be able to contain it.

Sometimes, however, gently dabbing might not be enough to remove the stain. In cases like his, you want to saturate the area with a bit of laundry detergent (mix it with a bit of warm water first) before letting it sit overnight. That will give the product ample time to lift the stain.

7. Not Unbuttoning Your Buttons

Maybe you wear button-down shirts for work? If so, remember to unfasten the buttons before putting the items in the washing machine—this includes the ones on the collar and cuffs. What happens when you leave them buttoned up? The holes can rip; the buttons can also fall off due to stressing of the threads.

washing button up shirts

Considering this, you want to take the extra minute or two to unbutton all of the buttons on your shirts when doing the laundry.

8. Not Separating Your Clothes

Doing laundry is a time-consuming chore, but you never want to skip on the sorting process. That’s probably one of the easiest ways to ruin your clothes. After all, the colors can easily run from one garment to another—you wouldn’t want your white shirt to have a splash of black, would you?

Once you get into the habit, sorting your clothes won’t take much time at all. There’s also the option of getting a multi-bin laundry hamper—that way, you can sort them ahead of time!

9. Using Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets might smell nice, but they’re not exactly great for our health. The way they work, they deposit a layer of chemicals onto your clothes, which help to soften them up. That’s great and all but the chemicals can also leave residue in your dryer. This residue can easily clog up the lint trap, which can lead to fires.

Speaking of which, the coating left by the sheets can also make your clothes more flammable. Not just that, but it reduces the water-absorbency of certain materials such as cotton.

Instead of dryer sheets, opt for reusable wool balls instead. They will soften your clothes and prevent static. The fact that you don’t need to buy new ones all the time also means that you’ll save money in the long run!

10. Not Cleaning Your Washing Machine

When was the last time you washed the washing machine? Yes, it needs cleaning too! Front-loading washers are especially prone to gunk such as mold.

clean your washing machien

Fortunately, they’re easy to clean. What you want to do is fill the basin with hot water, and add two cups of white vinegar. Do a full cycle. From there, you can “rinse” it by starting a second cycle—you do not have to add anything to it the second time around.

Pro-tip: Keeping your washing machine clean will prevent modes and bacteria growth, both of which can lead to icky odors.

11. Do Not Pour Detergent Onto the Clothes

Never pour your detergent directly onto your clothes—the soap will not get distributed evenly. Chances are, some of the garments will get too much detergent! Remember what we said about too much detergent? It can be difficult to rinse out, not to mention that it can cause skin irritation!

What you want to do instead, is load your clothes in, add water, and then add your laundry detergent. That will help to ensure that it’s distributed evenly.

12. Not Turning Your Clothes Inside Out

Certain items such as leggings and pants should be turned inside out before being put in the washing machine. That will ensure that any friction will not affect the outer layer. Plus, it makes it easier to wash away the sweat and dirt from the fabric! It’s a win-win situation.

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