Ever found yourself pulling a misshapen, shrunken jumper out of the washing machine? Or made things a lot worse by rubbing a stain too hard? Well, you’re not alone, we’ve all experienced one of those laundry “oops” moments.
With 11 million items of clothing going to landfill every week in the UK (source: Oxfam) and 70% of clothes we throw away showing irreversible damage (source: Fashion Revolution), it’s pretty clear that laundry mistakes can cost the Earth a lot more than we imagine. So let’s have a look at the traps and common errors we have all fallen into, and that could easily be avoided to try and get this number down. From washing with too much detergent to over-filling the machine, here are 9 of the most common laundry mistakes and how to avoid them...
1. Not reading the label
Even if you think it’s just a simple cotton t-shirt, you should always check the label of a new purchase before washing it, to be sure and to avoid any mistakes.
What to do instead: Learn how to read clothing labels and what the symbols mean. We understand that it can seem quite confusing at first glance, so we’ve put together a handy how-to guide and print out for your laundry room so you can become a clothing label pro and decipher all the symbols and terms. A quick two-minute check can save a world of upset when the laundry cycle finishes and your brand new clothes still look great!
2. Washing and drying at too high temperature
Whilst cranking up the heat may seem tempting, this can often be a counter-intuitive decision. Washing and drying at a too high temperature can cause melting fibres, shrinking and increased wear and tear on your clothes - due to increased friction from high heat. In the long term, this will decrease the lifespan of your clothes, as your garments will get damaged and then potentially thrown out more rapidly. This, sadly, has detrimental effects on both the planet and your wallet!
What to do instead: Wash cold! Most garments can happily be washed at 30 degrees, which consumes less energy and is more gentle on clothing fibres. For drying, opt for a clothesline or horse instead of the tumble dryer, where possible. Your clothes will be less worn out, meaning a longer lifespan and a happier planet. If you have any special, hard to care for items, this is where we step in!
3. Leaving a stain too long before cleaning it
We’ve all done it, but stains that have been allowed to penetrate the garment’s fibres for a long period of time are much harder to remove and there can be traces left after cleaning.
What to do instead: Soak or pre-spot the stain immediately, if possible! This helps to fade the stain on the garment and gives it the best chance of removal. After pre-treating the stain, leave it for a few minutes (or a couple of hours for particularly persistent stains) before washing the garment on your usual laundry cycle. If you have stains on your whites, the Bio D laundry bleach can be particularly helpful here. Careful! It is important to note that certain materials such as silk should not be spot treated as the colour can easily fade and become lighter on that area.
This advice also applies to clothes you bring to a professional cleaner: we usually advise our customers to take stains straight to us to maximise chances to remove them completely.
4. Rubbing a stain too vigorously.
Yes, there is such a thing! When you rub a stain too much to try and get it to fade, you’re actually at risk of creating lasting damage to the fabric or causing the colour to fade - which will then be impossible to recover.
What to do instead: Soak the garment first to ease the stain, then rub or pat gently with cold water and a stain remover (our BLANC stain remover is a real game changer and is effective against stains caused by fruit, coffee, tea, grass, blood, grease, wine, ink, grease stains, including oil butter or even make up). If you’re nervous or unsure, testing this on a small part of the fabric that is not visible is wise.
5. Forgetting to close zippers before washing.
It is an easy one to miss, but open zippers can cause small holes, rips and unnecessary wear on delicate items while tossing around in your washer or dryer.
What to do instead: Before washing your clothes, remember to close all zips and clasps (on your jeans, jackets, bras, etc) to prevent them from catching and snagging on other items in the washing cycle. For very delicate items, we recommend investing in a mesh bag to ensure they won’t scratch against other clothing. If you do gain a rip or tear, take a go at mending it before thinking of throwing it away - you can do it yourself or use our mending, repairs and alterations service.
6. Using too much detergent and pouring it directly onto garments
It may be tempting to pour detergent with a heavy hand, but more detergent does not equal fresher clothes! Excess detergent can actually build-up in the fabric and provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow. Similarly, pouring concentrated detergent directly onto the fabric won’t provide you with better results, if anything, the opposite - this can stain, bleach or fade your clothes.
What to do instead: Only use the amount advised on the detergent bottle. Along with only using as much as is advised, we recommend using non-bio detergents. Have a look at our selection of Bio-D detergents: they are vegan and cruelty-free, work at low temperatures and are made with ethically sourced ingredients. Kinder to your skin, your clothes, and the planet.
7. Overfilling the machine
Easily done, when thinking that we are saving time and energy! However, this can lead to clothes that won’t get properly cleaned and potentially a broken washing machine.
What to do instead: Simply, leave a gap between the clothes and the top of the machine and don’t fill right to the top!
Washing your clothes too often can cause garments to wear much quicker than they usually would, meaning that they can fade, shrink and lose their original shaping.
What to do instead: Unless it’s workout gear, it probably won’t need washing after each wear. To extend the time between washes, you can brush your clothes (to help remove dirt and bobbles), and leave the garment to air. You can also use some handy products to freshen up, such as the Attire Care Denim Spray: simply spritz on your jeans between washes to help to kill bacteria and freshen them up!
9. Forgetting to clean the filter in your washing machine
This can cause a build-up of fibres and bacteria in your machine, reducing its washing functionality and capabilities. Not to mention these fibres can attach themselves to your other clothes, which means you might have a trail of fluff following you around the house!
What to do instead: Many machines have ‘clean fluff’ or ‘rinse machine’ cycles, which make it as easy as pressing a few buttons. Failing this a rinse and spin without any garments on a warm cycle should do it.