By Jessica Thiefels
No one wants to do or think about laundry, yet we have to anyway. The worst part is, it’s usually a mindless task—you do it while you’re thinking about other things, not paying close attention to what you’re loading, how much detergent you’re using, or checking for dry-clean only items. These mistakes can damage and fade your clothing, and improperly using your machine or not getting it fixed when it’s vibrating, is also dangerous to your home and your health.
Keep these mistakes in mind, and don’t miss the fixes. Laundry is a necessary evil, and when done with care, you’ll be safer and your clothes will stay in better shape.
Using Too Much Detergent
According to HEX Performance, using too much detergent can leave residues on fabric, cause mold (which will make your clothes smelly), or lead to malfunctions with your washing machine.
Fix it: The easiest fix is to simply measure your detergent more accurately, according to Good Housekeeping: “The instructions on your detergent’s packaging are accurate guidelines — it’s when you ignore them that errors occur… If measuring into your detergent’s cap is slowing you down, try detergent pods to get the job done quickly and correctly each time.”
Filling the Machine Out of Order
Most people probably follow the same laundry routine: throw it all in, add the detergent, and turn on the machine. With busy schedules, laundry is the last thing you want to take your time with. However, loading the machine improperly may cause clothes to lighten and discolor unnecessarily. If you’re forever replacing clothes that are fading too quickly, this may be why.
Fix it: The proper order for filling your machine is as follows, according to Lauren Hill of Mama’s Laundry Talk:
- In a top-loader, add your detergent and boosters and turn on the water, letting it fill until the detergent and boosters have dissolved. Turn the water off, toss in your clothes, and then let it finish.
- In a front-loader, you can add the clothes first because the detergent goes in another spot.
Washing a “Dry Clean” Item
While not all “dry clean only” clothing needs to be dry cleaned—manufacturers are required to recommend at least one washing option—the alternative is to hand wash it, which is both time-consuming, and still not appropriate for all clothing types.
According to MarthaStewart.com, there are some fabrics and clothing items you definitely can’t wash at home, which will damage them:
“Suits, pleated skirts, and clothing made from delicate synthetics, such as rayon, or fabric blends, including silk and wool, should be left to the pros; all tend to lose their shape in water. Leather or suede items and those with metal embellishments, beading, or sequins require special care, too. Heavily soiled garments, especially those with difficult oil-based stains, should be taken to a dry cleaner, who may be able to remove them with specialized solvents.”
Fix it: Find a local dry cleaner that you love. When you have an item to be cleaned, you’ll know right where to go. When looking for a dry cleaner, the guide, Choosing Your Dry Cleaners suggests considering their process and model. For example: What kind of services do they offer? Is it easy to get in touch with customer service? How are their fees? Make sure you’re getting pricing up front, with no surprise costs when you pick up.
Not Leveling the Machine
In some cases, a vibrating or “dancing” washing machine is simply a matter of re-balancing the clothes if some have snuck up the side of the basket. However, in many cases, the cause is that your machine is off-balance. According to Reliable Appliances, this can lead to a variety of potential dangers, including:
- Minor safety hazards
- Extended wash cycles
- Increased energy usage
- Premature machine wear
Fix it: Start by figuring out what the problem is; not only could it be your clothes or overloading the machine, but it could also be that your floor isn’t level. If neither of these things are the issue, take a look at the legs to make sure they’re all level. Most have self-adjusting rear legs that may need tweaking. If it’s none of these things, call your local appliance repair person, who can diagnose and fix the issue for you.
Not Cleaning the Lint Trap
Leaving your lint trap or tray full is a fire hazard, and is especially dangerous if you often leave the dryer running while you’re out of the house. “Lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for a fire. Lint is a highly combustible material, which, interestingly enough, is one of the ingredients in a recipe for homemade fire starters,” explains Laundry Alternative Inc. Luckily, this one is an easy fix.
Fix it: Get into a habit of checking the lint basket before every load of laundry. Clean it out and pop it back in.
Get Laundry in Order
You likely do laundry more than many other house chores, so keep these tips in mind. Most of the mistakes can lead to damaged or faded clothing, which is costly and annoying. If you’re dealing with issues of jumping or “dancing” get that fixed right away—and don’t forget to clean out the lint tray. You’ll be safer and your clothes will last longer.
About the Author
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She’s worked with a variety of real estate clients, and has been featured on Forbes and Market Watch. She’s also written for Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect on LinkedIn.