Most of us have experienced at least one laundry fiasco, from whites that turned various hues of pink, to tops that shrunk down a size or two because they were meant to be dry cleaned only. While we all do laundry, how do you know if you’re actually doing it properly?
Do you use hot or cold water? Are you using too much detergent? Is bleaching okay? Figuring out the specifications of your washing machine and reading all those mysterious labels on your clothes is the answer to it all. Below is a list of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind during your next laundry day.
Separate your whites, lights and delicate wear from the rest of your load. These should always be washed separately and in the case of delicates, such as ladies underwear, place them in a mesh bag or even a pinned pillow case to avoid tearing during the wash cycle.
Unfasten all buttons, even the smaller ones at the cuffs; otherwise the stress of the washing cycle and other pull from clothes might cause buttons and buttonholes to tear.
Close all zippers to ensure the metal teeth don’t snag or tear other more delicate clothing.
Turn your jeans and coloured pants inside out to avoid colours fading prematurely. If you’re washing dark jeans or coloured pants for the first time, wash them in a separate load as the dark colours always bleed through the first time. After this, you should be able to wash them with other clothes, just remember jeans and pants should always be washed in cold water.
For stubborn stains on fabrics, always pre-treat with a stain remover before throwing them in the machine. Mix the stain remover with water and liquid detergent and then gently rub on the affected area with a toothbrush or soft cloth. Never scrub the area! This can actually make the stain worse and even wear away the fabric. For best results, treat the stain as soon as you see it and use a white cloth so that colours don’t transfer.
Don’t ever try to fill the machine with more clothes than it can hold. The clothes need room to move around freely in the water to get the best cleansing. If the machine is overloaded, some of the clothes might not even get wet, never mind cleaned.
Don’t overuse detergents. Whether it’s a liquid or powder, the excess soap can trap dirt pulled from clothes and get caught in areas that won’t always rinse clean, like under a collar. Most detergents have specific amounts listed for the size of each load and different kinds of water (hard water etc.) so read the packaging carefully before use.
Clothes with a dry clean label should NEVER go into the machine; this can lead to delicate fibres tearing and colours running. If you’re too lazy to head down to the dry cleaners, just keep in mind that most clothes that are dry clean only can be gently hand-washed and air dried. Nevertheless, stick with dry-cleaning for certain items like leather, suede and anything with embellishments and structured pieces.
Once you’re ready to wash your clothes, don’t just shove them into the machine and turn it on. First choose the right setting for your laundry: washing machines have various water temperature settings. Use hot water for light-coloured items that are dirty or smelly and cold water for dark clothes whose colours are more likely to run. Cotton materials also need cold water to avoid shrinkage.