10 reasons your washing machine may be spoiling your clothes

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You got yourself a washing machine and you are excited. Now you are finally rid of having to use your hand and physical strengths to get through those heaps of dirty laundry every week. Some months down the road however, you begin to wonder why many of your clothes are beginning to look faded, stretched and worn out. Could it be the washing machine, you wondered?

Well, you may be right. Using a washing machine for your clothes has its dos and don’ts. If you do not follow the rule, the lifespan and durability of your clothes may suffer for it. The question is what are those rules? What are these dos and don’ts?

1. Ignoring the washing machine manual

Never ignore the manual that comes with your washing machine. This is very important because doing this often results into committing all the other don’ts listed in this article.

Apart from containing general information on the machine, it also usually contains helpful information that when followed, will preserve your clothing rather than ruin them. Example of such information include weight guide for clothing, washing guides for different fabric, etc.

The image below is a Washing Guide from a top-loader washing machine’s manual.

Example of Washing Guide from a TopLoading Washing machine

Example of Washing Guide from a Top Loading Washing machine

2. Ignoring the wash care label of your clothes

Your clothes often contain wash care labels which are symbols that recommend how the clothes should be washed. Using a washing machine does not automatically do this for you. Hence, never use a washing machine for a cloth labeled as “Do not Wash” or “Hand Wash”. Or any cloth that do not contain the “Machine Wash” symbol.

If your washing machine also comes with a dryer, do not use it for clothes labeled “Do Not Tumble Dry” or any for that matter that do not have the “Tumble Dry” label.

3. Using the wrong wash selector

Your washing machine will often present you with different levels of wash selectors. Common ones are namely Gentle, Normal and Strong. Gentle wash is best for synthetics, silk, woolen and knits fabrics. Normal wash is best for cotton and linen fabrics and strong wash is best for very dirty or soiled cotton and linen fabrics.

Therefore avoid washing a cloth labeled as “Gentle Cycle” using the normal or strong wash selectors of your machine. You washing manual should provide you with more and specific information on this.

4. Mixing fabric together the wrong way. Not taking time to sort out your laundry

We should not just lump our clothes together and then dump them into washing machine. We need to properly sort them out into groups. Light fabric should be grouped together and not lumped with heavy fabrics. Lumping them together may result into the heavy fabrics scratching and damaging the finer weaves of the light fabrics.

You also need to sort your clothes according to fabric type (e.g. cotton, linen, wool, etc.) so that you can wash them together using the right wash selector.

Do not mix up colorfast and non-colorfast clothes. Spending a little time sorting out your laundry can make a big difference to preserving your clothes durability.

5. Long and excessive washing

Washing your clothes beyond the recommended duration and cycle for the fabric can damage the clothes and reduce their lifespan.

Avoid just dumping clothes into the machine and setting a long timing just because you need to gist with a friend or watch a show on television.  Washing any clothes for more than 15 minutes may be considered excessive.

6. Not using the right detergent

Using the right detergent will also determine how safely you use your washing machine to wash your clothes.  Different types of detergent are recommended for Top loading and front loading washing machine. Front loading detergent for example cleans well, but do not foam like other detergents. The minimal foaming prevents excess lathers from getting caught in the door mechanism, making them difficult to remove during the rinse cycle.

There are also liquid and powdered detergent. Liquid detergent is best for cold and quick washes because it dissolves easily under most conditions. Powdered detergent is more budget-friendly but are not the best for washing delicate fabric under 30 degrees.

7. Using too much detergent

Some people erroneously assume that more detergent makes for cleaner clothes. This is far from the truth. Overuse of detergent can make clothes dirtier as the soap residue fades colour and attracts even more dirt. The excess soap can also hold dirt and doesn’t get washed away (especially in areas like pleats or collars). It can also lead to bacteria build-up in the machine and on clothes.

Excessive powdered detergents can make your clothes stiff, while liquid detergents can cause fading. Check your machine manual for recommended amount of detergent to be used depending on the fabric.

8. Leaving wet clothes in the machine

You did your laundry late in the night and you cannot go out to spread out the clothes outside on the line. So you decide to leave the clothes in the machine. You feel there should not be any problem since you spin dry the clothes.

Doing this often can ruin your cloth on the long run, especially if you leave the clothes covered in the machine. Mildews are bound to start forming on them and can eventually ruin the clothes if good care is not taken.

9. Overloading your machine

You may be tempted at times to load your washing machine with all your dirty clothes all at once in order to save time. If you load your machine beyond its recommended weight, you do not only risk spoiling the machine, you also risk running your clothes as a result of poor cleaning.

Overloading the machine will prevent it from adequately moving your clothes around inside the drum, so that water and detergent can distribute evenly, lift stains and shake the dirt free.

10. Leaving zips undone but buttons done up

When you leave zips undone in clothes you put into the machine, you increase the risk of the zip getting caught or entangled with delicate fabric, scratching and spoiling them. The same thing may happen when clothes buttons are done up.

Doing both can also affect the washing machine itself as zips and buttons can get caught in the drums of the machine.

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