7 Laundry Mistakes You're Probably Making

Save your clothes, money, and your washing machine — here’s how.

By: Amanda Mushro


Photo by: GK Hart/Vicky Hart

GK Hart/Vicky Hart

If it feels like you are in a constant state of laundry, you aren’t alone. The average American does around 300 loads of laundry a year. With so many cycles of washing and drying, it can feel like you’ve perfected taking your clothes from dirty to clean. However, there are seven common mistakes that most of us are making and they’re costing us money, time, and keeping our clothes dirty.

Good news though, these mistakes are easier to fix than getting red wine out of a white shirt!

Only Using the "Quick Wash" Cycle

When you find the "Quick Wash" cycle on your washing machine, it’s a real game-changer. Why wait for an entire cycle to get your clothes clean when you can cut that time in half. However, saving time on each and every cycle could actually damage your machine because it’s constantly running at a fast speed. Also, it’s not the best cycle for regular loads. The Quick Wash cycle uses less water and is intended for smaller loads. So, using this cycle on regular-size and large loads means your clothes aren't getting as clean as they should because soap and dirt may be left behind. For smaller loads, it’s great! But for normal day-to-day use, opt for a regular cycle.

Using Too Much Detergent

If you want to get your clothes really clean, you need plenty of detergent, right? Surprisingly, too much detergent can actually make your clothes dirtier. All those excess suds hold in dirt and won’t fully wash away from your clothes. So, instead of getting your clothes clean, the fibers in the material of your laundry are holding onto dirt and soap. Gross. Instead of using the cup on the detergent to measure, grab your measuring spoons because you only need a tablespoon per load. Not only will this get your clothes cleaner, but it will also save you money. No more wasting extra detergent!

Overpacking the Load

Listen, we get it. Why wait for two small loads of laundry when we can just wash one giant load? Even though we can make it fit into the washer doesn’t mean all of the clothes will get clean. Your laundry shouldn’t reach higher than the agitator in a top loader, or past the row of holes closest to the door in a front loader. The water levels are set and even if you add more soap, your clothes aren’t getting clean.

Not Washing Your Machine

Wait, your washing machine needs to be washed? Yes, it does. Detergent, dirt, and large fibers and hair from your clothes will make your machine dirty, so you need to give your machine a break and clean it every few months. An easy way to do this is to turn on the machine with no clothes inside, crank up the water temperature, pour in a cup of white vinegar, and use baking soda to clean the outside of the machine, the agitator, and any other place that needs a good scrub.

Not Cleaning Out the Dryer Vent

Your dryer needs regular maintenance beyond just cleaning out the trap after each load of laundry. Once a year, you should clean out the dryer vent. This will help your machine work better and last longer. If your machine’s vent is blocked, it has to work harder during each load of laundry, which can be very dangerous. Clogged dryer vents can cause a fire if not cleaned out properly. To clean the vent, just detach the dryer vent hose from the wall and vacuum the hose, and be sure to go outside and clean the exterior vent.

Not Prepping Your Laundry

Dumping your clothes into the machine directly from the clothes basket is a laundry no-no. To make sure your clothes are properly prepped, clean out any pockets, read labels so you aren’t tossing in a dry clean only garment, pull up zippers so they don’t damage clothes, and pull clothes apart (the dreaded underwear in pants or t-shirts inside hoodies). These extra steps will save your clothes and your machine in the long run.

Not Leveling Your Machine

If your washer and dryer start shaking the whole house during a vigorous cycle, your machines are not leveled. Not only can these vibrations damage your floors, but they can also damage your machines over time. So, take the time to get your machines properly leveled or use a piece of plywood to absorb the vibrations.


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