10 Common Laundry Mistakes That May Prevent Your Clothes From Getting Clean
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10 Common Laundry Mistakes That May Prevent Your Clothes From Getting Clean

Jun 19, 2023

Avoid these laundry mishaps to ensure your clothes get their deepest clean possible.

While it may be tempting to throw one load of dirty clothes together in the washing machine and call it a day, cleaning your clothes properly is a more detailed process. From sorting your garments by fabric and measuring detergent to pre-treating stains and closing zippers, there are several steps you need to take to ensure all goes as planned during the wash cycle. The reason? Failing to prepare correctly can leave you with garments that look and smell dingy. To ensure your laundry leaves the machine with a fresh scent and is, most importantly, clean, avoid these common laundry mistakes when washing your next load.

Related: 7 Ways to Make Your Laundry Smell Fresh

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Sorting your garments by color and, when necessary, fabric group, is one of the easiest ways to ensure your laundry gets clean. "Yes, this can mean washing more loads of laundry, but if you make the mistake of not sorting and just throwing everything in together, you can end up with problems like dye transfer or lint buildup," says Mary Gagliardi, also known as Dr. Laundry, Clorox's in-house scientist and cleaning expert. "Dye transfer can be immediately visible or it contributes to the dingy appearance of light-colored laundry after several wash cycles. Lint buildup happens when fabrics that attract lint (like corduroy) end up covered in fiber pills produced from items like towels that readily produce lint."

Using the right amount of laundry detergent is essential when it comes to properly cleaning your clothes. In fact, using too much detergent is just as bad as using too little. "Our clothes get cleaned in the washing machine by rubbing against each other—this friction helps remove stains and dirt from fabrics. Using too much detergent can reduce this friction, which means your clothes may not come out as clean if you were to use less soap," says Sarah Armstrong, new product brand manager for Maytag. To determine how much detergent you need, start with the minimum recommended amount, then add more if you have a larger or dirtier load.

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Make sure the zippers on your jeans, dresses, and other garments are closed prior to washing. "Open zippers have teeth that can abrade fabrics as they circulate together in a clothes washer, especially metal zippers," says Gagliardi. "Zipping them closed prior to washing protects both the item and the rest of the laundry."

Unlike zippers, you should leave garments with buttons undone. "The insides of collars on dress shirts could benefit from a little more mechanical action in the clothes washer to help remove soil that accumulates there," says Gagliardi. "Same goes for the cuffs, too." Additionally, buttoning up your garments ensures the threads won't get pulled during washing.

Removing the lint from your dryer's lint trap after every laundry load helps your appliance perform at its best and prevents potential fire hazard risk. "Your lint trap should be cleaned after every cycle and your dryer vent should be cleaned at least once every two years," says Armstrong. "You can also deep clean your lint trap every six months or when you start noticing lint build-up."

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Not cleaning your washing machine can lead to dirty and odorous garments. "The inner workings of a clothes washer (the pump, hoses, the inside of the tub, etc.) trap water and harbor soil build-ups that are the perfect breeding ground for odor causing bacteria," says Gagliardi. "The odor transfers to subsequent loads of laundry, resulting in smelly odors on clean laundry." You should clean your washing machine at least once a month.

Like using too much detergent, using too much fabric softener is also a common laundry mistake. "Using too much fabric softener can often result in build-up on your clothes or appliances, which can lead to issues like a dirty agitator," says Armstrong. "It’s best practice to look at the brand's packaging to find out the correct amount of softener to use."

Always check the care tag on your clothes, especially if it's a new garment or one you don't wash frequently. "Checking the care tag on your clothing is very crucial, as this will help with preserving the longevity of your item," says Armstrong. "Clothing care tags will provide you with valuable information as to how your article of clothing should be washed."

One rinse in your washing machine isn't always enough to remove stains, which is why pre-treating them is essential. "By pre-treating stains you are working to break the stains apart before running them through the washer," says Armstrong. "It's important to note that the quicker you treat stains, the less time they have to set into your clothing."

There are several issues that can arise from overfilling your washing machine. "Overloading a washer can make it difficult for a washer to work well because the clothes can’t circulate, tumble, or bounce through the wash solution freely so they won’t get as clean," says Gagliardi. "An overloaded washer may have difficulty balancing the load, which is necessary to achieve high spin speeds to adequately extract wash and rinse water from load." Additionally, washing too much dirty laundry in one load makes it difficult to use enough detergent for adequate cleaning.

Read the original article on Martha Stewart.