Are you doing your laundry all wrong? These common mistakes could be ruining your clothes

Learn to look after your washing...

Are your jeans jaded? Do your shirts look a bit sad? It could be that you’re not washing them properly. According to research by LG, the average person will ruin £3,969 of clothes in a lifetime, which is why it's important to learn to look after your washing.

Our care and cleaning channel is filled with ways to make life easier

It's not just about separating your darks from your whites you know! Here are the common mistakes we make when doing the laundry, and how to wash clothes properly.

1. You're washing clothes too often

white bedroom with pink armchair and clothes hanger

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Wash your clothes less frequently – constantly submitting fabrics to soaking, detergent and spinning can wear them out. Instead, hang them up to air, preferably outside of the wardrobe.

It's especially important that you do not wash your jeans often – instead spot clean for minor stains in between washes.

Top tip: Accidentally got make-up on an item of clothing? Squirt some shaving cream on the stain, and let it sink in for 10 minutes. Next, wash it off with cold water.

2. You're overloading the machine

white washing machine with clothes rack and dark flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Caroline Arber)

It can be tempting to stuff in as much laundry as possible into your washing machine or tumble dryer. But, if you give your clothes some space to roll around, you'll find they will come out cleaner and less wrinkled.

Your machine's manual should recommend a load amount for each particular cycle, but for reference, 1kg is the equivalent to an outfit. That's a top, pair of trousers or skirt, underwear and socks/tights.

The general rules are that, for cotton and linens, the machine's drum can be full but not tightly packed – you should be able to make two fists at the top without difficulty.

For synthetics, the drum should be half full; and for delicates and woollens, it should be no more than a third full. Some of the latest washing machines automatically weigh your clothes and will tell you if you can add more items to a particular cycle.

3. You're not measuring the detergent

washing area with glass jars on wooden shelves

(Image credit: TBC)

Too much can irritate your skin and waste water through the extra rinse cycles required. Too little won't clean laundry properly and will allow scale to build up in your machine.

Consult your machine's manual, or check out Bosch and Siemens models that dispense just amount amount of deterge depending on the type of wash and load size.

Top tip: If an item is extra dirty, treat it to a pre-wash cycle (without detergent), and then wash it on a normal wash (with detergent).

4. You don't wash your darks inside out

You should always wash your darks inside out, as this will help the garment keep its colour without fading.

5. You use fabric softener on towels

white tiled bathroom with textured flooring and table top washbasin

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

This is another big no-no, as they’ll become less absorbent over time.

6. You leave wet clothes in the washing machine

It only takes 24 hours for the fungus, mildew, to start growing.

7. Read the care label

It may sound obvious, but it's worth taking extra time to properly read and understand garment care instructions. That way, you won't end up a mini-me version of your favourite top after washing it at the wrong temperature.

If you're unsure of what all the washing icons mean, look them up on the UKFT website (opens in new tab). That way, you'll be completely clear on how each fabric should be treated.

8. You don't treat stains fast enough

white laundry room with white shelves and cabinet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Speed is of the essence when it comes to stain removal. For advice at your fingertips, download the free Stain brain app, put together by famous US laundry brand, Tide.

Top tip: Use lemon juice to remove grass stains from white cotton. Tackle scorch marks by rubbing with half a raw onion.

9. You don't bag your bras

Laundry with metal attachments, such as underwired bras, buckles or buttons, can damage a washing machine or tumble dryer. So while it might take five extra minutes, always remove metal pieces or wash the items in a mesh bag or pillowcase.

Do the same with your smalls and keep socks in pairs and tights untangled, to stop them from causing blockages.

10. Wash your machine

white laundry room with cabinets and baskets

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Merewether for Ideal Home)

For tips read: How to clean a washing machine – banish mould, bad smells and residues

If you don't, you'll have musty-smelling laundry. Put some clean dishcloths in the drum and, using non-bio detergent, run it on the hottest programme. Some machines may have a tub clean cycle.

Wipe down the door seal and detergent drawers regularly with hot, soapy water.

Amy Cutmore
Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.