12 Common Laundry Mistakes You Should Never Make

From detergent mishaps to zipper positioning and whether shirts should be buttoned up.

Laundry used to be an all-day process, involving lugging and boiling water, scrubbing shirts, rinsing, and wringing. Drying clothing could take days and ironing, well, ironing is still laborious. The invention of the washer and dryer transformed our society back in the day and continues to be an incredible convenience. Modern laundry appliances make it easy to clean up—just add soap, dirty clothes, and hit a button or two.

However, just because these gadgets save time and give us peace of mind, still doesn’t make doing the laundry a completely mindless task. Even the best washer and dryer are subject to human error. There are plenty of things not to put in the washer (looking at you, sequins) and lots of items that should never, ever be put in the dryer. Those aren't the only laundry mistakes, though. Here are a few others to avoid making.

Forgetting To Empty Pockets

Be sure to check every pocket before putting items in the washer. Stray tissues lipstick, crayon, coins, or car keys can ruin your laundry and even your machine.

Neglecting To Sort Your Laundry

Wash your whites and light-colored clothing separately from your darks and reds to prevent colors from bleeding onto others. Putting a red item in with a load of whites can mean your entire sheet or towel collection turns pink.

Not Pretreating Stains

Your best bet at removing stains is to tackle them before they go in the washer. Dab them gently and pretreat with cool water, laundry detergent, or your favorite laundry stain remover. Then wash as usual. However, if you're not sure if the washer got the stain out, do not put the item in the dryer as heat can set a stain. Instead, let it air dry and see if you need to re-wash.

Drying Items With Elastic

Undergarments and swimsuits should not be put in the dryer because the heat and spinning can ruin the elastic, causing them to stretch and droop. Hang them up to dry instead.

Sticking Your Athletic Wear (Or Athleisure) In The Dryer

Athletic wear understandably gets stinky, but while it's okay to put them in the washer, resist the urge to chuck them in the dryer. The heat from the dryer can cause those stretchy fabrics to degrade meaning droopy leggings, saggy shorts, and stretched out tanks. Rather, hang them to dry.

Leaving Zippers Open

Be sure to zip up those zippers before throwing garments into the wash. This way, you'll avoid having them snag other items in the load.

Keeping Your Shirts Buttoned

If you wash button-up shirts, be sure to leave them unbuttoned. That's because the spin cycle can pull at the buttons causing the threads to loosen.

Overstuffing Your Washer And Dryer

Washers and dryers need just a few things to do their jobs well. They need motion, detergent, and in the case of dryers, heat. If you overstuff the washer or dryer your machine can't do their good work, because the clothing doesn't have enough room to move to either get the dirt off or dry uniformly.

Using Too Much Detergent

Modern laundry detergents usually only require a small capful. While you may think a particularly stinky load needs more, too much soap can actually backfire leaving residue on your clothes and even possibly damage your washer.

Choosing The Wrong Laundry Temperature

Read your garments' care labels carefully to determine what water temperature you should use. If you're not sure what temperature to choose, go with cold. As Sammy Wang, MS, Tide Senior Scientist, says, "The rule of thumb is that you can always go down in recommended temperature but should not go up in temperature!"

Over-Scrubbing Stains

While it may be tempting to scour the gravy stain on your grandma's heirloom tablecloth, step away from the scrub brush. Too much scrubbing can damage the fabric. Instead, pre-treat with laundry detergent or use a fabric safe stain remover that can remove a stain, no scrubbing required.

Forgetting To Clean Your Washer, Dryer, Lint Trap, And Dryer Duct

Even though they're otherwise the contraptions responsible for washing, you do need to clean your washer and dryer. That includes a thorough cleaning of both the lint trap and the dryer duct, which are critical for preventing possible fires.

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