8 laundry sins that are ruining your clothes
Some of us have dirty laundry to air. Well, in the washing machine at least.
Shrunken wools and dwindled dresses that a squirrel would be lucky to squeeze into, colour that has run rampant, grey or lavender-looking whites, suds that have frothed out of the machine and soaked the floor ... I could go on.
The point is: many of us learn the hard way about washing.
While most are (hopefully) a little more literate about laundry, there are simple mistakes that even some of the cleanest among us make. Overdosing on detergent, stuffing your machine and using cold water all the time are just a few.
1. Too much detergent
Counter-intuitively, more soap does not make for cleaner clothes. Rather, it can make them grimier as he soap residue fades colour and attracts more dirt. It can also lead to bacteria build-up in the machine and on clothes, especially in areas where the excess soap holds dirt and doesn't get washed away, like pleats or collars. Detergent build-up even encourages odour.
2. Washing clothes with a "dry-clean only" label
This is actually OK, depending on the material. As a rule of thumb, never wash leather, suede, anything with embellishments or structured pieces (like jackets). Other fabrics, including natural fibres, such as linen and most silks, can be gently hand-washed and air dried.
Before you do, check that the piece is colourfast by dabbing part of the garment that can't be seen with a wet cotton bud or ball.
3. Leaving wet clothes in the machine
It can not only lead to stinky clothes and a smelly machine, it can allow mildew to start forming, which can trigger an allergy or asthma attack.
You'd have to leave your clothes sitting wet in the washer for about 24 hours before mildew is likely to start forming. But, for smells' sake, it's best to remove clothes from the machine as soon as you can. If you don't have time to hang them out, try placing them in a plastic basket in a ventilated area or at very least open the washing machine door to let air in.
4. Overloading your machine
It is tempting to clean your basket full of clothes in one fell swoop to save on time.
But, it means the "cleaning" part isn't really effective and it can also damage the machine.
To clean successfully, clothes have to be able to move around inside the drum, so that water and detergent can distribute evenly, lift stains and shake the dirt free.
When you overload your machine, you cramp its style in this sense and also strain its suspension and bearings from overwork.
5. Vigorously rubbing stains
Oh the intention is there - we're looking for results back in proportion to efforts put in. Unfortunately, when it comes to stain removal, this can make the stain worse and may wear away the fabric.
Instead, easy does it. Treat quickly to avoid the stain setting and use white cloth so that colours don't run. Dab, rather than rub and work from the outside in.
6. Leaving zips undone but buttons done up
Left undone, zippers can snag on delicate clothes and catch in the drum of the machine. Doing up buttons on your shirt might therefore seem logical, but can in fact pull on the button and button hole during the cycle, loosening them or popping them off.
Zip garments all the way up and buttons all the way down before you wash.
7. Using top loader washing powder in your front loader machine or vice versa
Top loader detergents produce more foam so can leave your front loader, which generally uses less water, overflowing with foam and possibly damage the machine. If you've accidentally bought top loader and have a front loader machine, try using half the recommended amount.
8. Bleaching clothes too often
The occasional bleach can bring the pop back to your whites. But using it too often can turn your whites yellow. Also, there are natural alternatives for removing protein stains like blood or sweat - pop stained items into a big pot of water with a some lemon slices and bring to a boil for a few minutes.
Avoid using bleach on wool, nylon, silk or dyed fabric.