Laundry is a necessary chore for everyone. While you might think it’s a straightforward task, some common laundry mistakes can lead to unfortunate results. These laundry missteps can affect the appearance, longevity, and cleanliness of your clothes. Here, we’ll review the top ten most common laundry mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Overloading the Washing Machine
Arguably, the most common laundry mistake is overloading the washing machine. Clothes need space to move around to get clean. Stuffing the machine full might lead to ineffective washing and rinsing. This means your clothes won’t get as clean and might still have soap on them. Overloading can also damage your machine and cause mechanical issues.
2. Neglecting to Sort Clothes
Not sorting your laundry (at least by color) is a big mistake. If you want to be a real stickler, you should also sort by fabric and care instructions, but that isn’t realistic for most households. At a minimum, sort your clothes by light/white and dark colors.
3. Using Too Much Detergent
Contrary to what some believe, extra detergent won’t make your clothes cleaner. In fact, it can actually have the opposite effect. Using extra detergent can leave a soapy residue on your laundry, attract dirt, and irritate sensitive skin. Follow the recommended amount of detergent on the product label (or less). If you have a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine, you’ll definitely want to use less.
4. Forgetting Stain Pre-treatment
If you forget to pretreat your stains, there is a good chance they won’t come out in the wash. Ideally, you’ll pretreat the stain immediately after it happens. However, taking the extra few minutes to check clothes for stains before putting them in the washing machine is well worth the effort. Use your favorite stain remover or mix your detergent with a little bit of water and apply it directly to the stain. Give it a few minutes to start working before you wash the item.
5. Overusing Fabric Softener
Fabric softeners smell good, but using them can cause problems. They can cause a waxy build-up on your clothes, reducing absorbency and breathability. This can also damage your fabrics over time. If you decide to use fabric softener, use a minimal amount to limit these issues. You can also consider eco-friendly things like wool dryer balls to soften your clothes.
6. Neglecting the Lint Filter
You have to empty the lint filter EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. A clogged lint filter lowers the ability of the dryer to do its job. Not to mention, it’s a massive fire hazard. Make it a habit to check the lint filter every time you empty your dryer so it’s always ready to go. You should also periodically check the dryer vent to make sure it’s clear.
7. Using High Heat for Everything
Unless you have a particularly foul load of laundry, high heat is never necessary. Heat in the washer or dryer can cause your clothes to shrink and damage the fibers. When in doubt, check the care label.
8. Overlooking Zipper and Button Care
Zippers and buttons can snag on other items in the washing machine, leading to tears and damage. Always zip up zippers and button your clothes to keep them in tip-top shape. Fastening these closures also helps maintain the shape and appearance of your clothes.
9. Skipping Regular Machine Maintenance
Your washing machine and dryer need cleaning too. Not taking care of your machines can cause your clothes to smell weird, break down, or lessen their ability to do their job.
10. Rushing Through the Laundry Process
Lastly, rushing through the laundry process can lead to mistakes. Take the time to read care labels, sort your laundry, and properly treat stains. Rushing can result in overlooked errors that affect your clothes’ cleanliness and longevity.
By avoiding these common laundry mistakes, you can keep your clothes looking fresh, extend their lifespan, and make laundry day a more efficient and effective task. Remember to take the extra time to sort, pre-treat, and care for your garments, and your wardrobe will thank you for it.