Some household chores are done so regularly, it’s easy to go on autopilot and not even think about what you’re doing.
We’re all used to chucking a load of laundry in the machine, but how much are we actually thinking about the process? For most of us, not very much at all – and this could be to the detriment of your favourite garments.
Laundry might not be the most glamorous of tasks, but it’s essential to keep your clothes in good condition – and these are some of the key mistakes we might be making…
1. Washing stains into clothing
Who among us hasn’t worn a pristine white blouse, only to get ketchup on it? Stains are a part of life – particularly this time of year, when splashing mud onto your trousers feels like an inevitability. For many of us, our response to a stain is to chuck the offending garment immediately into the wash, or to leave it until you can be bothered to do something about it.
However, founder of Oxwash Kyle Grant says: “Don’t just throw it in the wash and hope for the best.” Instead, he recommends pre-treating any marks, saying: “With a soft brush (a toothbrush will work) you can brush the stain with washing detergent, or a bleach/chlorine-free stain remover such as Vanish, into the fabric. This will slowly break up the dirt before it goes through the cycle. You could also soak the item with stain removal solution for a couple of hours before washing it.”
2. Washing too often
Not only does over-washing have the potential to wear down your clothes and make them lose colour more quickly, but it’s also worth thinking about the environmental impact. When we do laundry, a lot of clothes release tiny microfibres which can make their way into the ocean and contribute to plastic pollution. So, when you’re chucking something into the washing basket, just think: does it actually need to be washed? Some items will fare well by having marks sponged off or being hung out to air out before they really need to go into the machine.
3. Using a high temperature wash for everything
Some items of clothing – like reusable masks – are best washed at a high temperature. This is if something is very soiled or needs to be properly disinfected, but you shouldn’t use a high temperature for everything. “Most washing machines now come with an eco-wash setting, which can be very effective for the majority of weekly laundry loads,” Grant explains. “The benefit of this is that when you wash on 20° or 30°, you won’t need to separate colours, as it is the heat that causes colours to run. This means you can save time, water and energy.”
4. Going overboard with detergent
Sloshing in detergent is part of the ritual of laundry, but maybe it’s time to give this step a bit more thought. Instead of pouring in the same amount of detergent every time you wash, Grant says the dose should match the size of the load. “Using too much detergent can not only cause harm to your clothes by overloading them with harsh chemicals, but it can also damage your machine, as the excess detergent can build up in the system over time,” he explains.
5. Not cleaning the filter
Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you cleaned the filter in your washing machine? “If your washing machine isn’t running as efficiently as it should, then you could have a clogged filter,” says Grant. “A filter can become clogged due to a build-up of chemicals, and fluff/lint from clothes washing away down the drain.”
This, according to Grant, can lead to a poorer quality wash “because the particles are more likely to stay in the machine than be washed away, due to poor drainage”. It might seem like an effort, but cleaning your filter is simple. “It just takes a rinse through with hot water to remove any debris or residue,” says Grant.
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