Common Laundry Mistakes

February 25, 2015

Less is usually more, and when it comes to laundry detergent, this axiom is no exception. Even if you’re using the manufacturer’s recommended amount of soap on laundry day, you could be washing money down the drain, damaging your washing machine, and leaving your clothes dirty.

Vernon Schmidt, an appliance repairman for almost 40 years was cited by the New York Times as saying that too much soap is the number one issue seen with damaged dishwashers and washing machines. Detergents have become more concentrated, and washers more efficient, so it’s easy to overdo it.

Here’s an easy test to determine whether you’re adding too much detergent. Put 4 clean towels in a washer, and run it on the hot water and medium wash settings for 5 minutes. If you see suds, that means they’re left in your towels from the last wash. Next wash, try using half the recommended dosage, and if your clothing isn’t coming out as clean as you’d like, add detergent back in a little at a time.

Using too much detergent is as detrimental for your washer as it is for your clothes. Soap can build up within the washer, causing a buildup of mold and mildew, which then transfers onto your clothing.

Besides too much detergent, there are some other common laundry mistakes people make. Here’s how to avoid them:

1) You’re using the wrong detergent. High efficiency washing machines are more common nowadays, so most detergents have separate lines for high efficiency and regular washing. Pick the wrong one, and you could either end up with too many suds or clothes that aren’t completely clean. When faced with the overwhelming number of products in the laundry aisle, don’t worry. Sure, there are a lot of different brands, but most clean similarly. Choose a brand and scent you like, then just make sure you’re getting the correct detergent  for your washer- either “Regular” or “High Efficiency” (usually denoted with “HE”).

2) You’re scrubbing stains. It’s tempting to scrub to get a stain out, but remember that your clothes are made of fibers, and aren’t solid. Scrubbing can potentially ground the stain more, making it worse. Be gentle and methodical, dabbing at the stain. Also try to remove it as soon as possible. The longer it sits untreated, the more difficult the stain is to remove.

3) You’re not cleaning your dryer. We take out the lint trap, sure, but you know how lint puffs up and off that trap? This same lint can clog the duct over time and become a fire hazard. If it’s taking your dryer more than an hour to dry a load, your dryer needs to be cleaned. You can purchase a long brush specifically for cleaning vents (Harvey Norman, Masters should have them, or you can purchase them online.) Detach the hose from the back of the dryer and push the lint out at least once a year.

4) You’re using too much bleach. Bleach is a pretty harsh chemical, and bleach production takes a huge toll on the environment. Too much bleach on your clothing can actually turn them yellow, so use it sparingly. Most clothes can be brightened with boiling water and some lemons. Just toss clothing into the water with a few lemon slices, and boil for a few minutes.

5) You’re not using the correct washer settings. Who really knows what “permanent press” does anyway? You do now: it’s a medium heat cycle that cools off at the end. This cool-down period helps prevent wrinkles. It also cycles cool and warm water to help keep your colors bright. The washer settings are there for a reason, so choose the right one to keep your clothes looking brand new.
As Australia’s garment experts, Australian Uniform Service wants to help you make your life easier at work and at home. While these tips should help you shape up your laundry at home, contact us for all your professional or large-scale garment needs.