If you’re the type of person that ignores all of the buttons on your washer and dryer and throws everything in on the “regular” settings, this post is for you. By learning to use your washer and dryer properly, you can save money on your energy bill, protect your fabrics, and increase the lifespan of your clothing.
Inspired by this article from cleaning expert, Jolie Kerr, we’ve brought you everything you need to know about properly using your washer and dryer, and even how to hand wash.
Everything You Need to Know About Your Washer
By choosing the right settings on you washer, you can save big on your energy bill and keep your clothes looking good as new!
This is how long your clothes will be in the machine for. The longer they’re in, the harder it is on the material, so always choose the shortest cycle possible and make sure you choose a shorter cycle for your delicates.
Generally, we just throw all of our clothes into the “regular cycle,” but this can add undue wear and tear onto your clothing. The cycle speed refers to how fast the clothes are spun when they are being agitated in the wash and on the spin cycle. Choose a higher speed for sturdier fabrics, and a slower speed for delicates.
Today, most detergent has been formulated to work in cold water- that is, the detergent is able to break down and be effective in cold water, whereas previous detergent formulas required warm or hot water to break it down.
The majority of the time, you should use cold water because (so long as you’re using a cold-water detergent) it not only saves you money on energy, but it’s also gentler on your clothes and prevents fading. If you’re dealing with very dirty clothing or are washing your bedding, you can opt for hot water for an extra cleaning boost, but in general cold water is just fine. Germaphobes don’t worry- even if you use cold water, the heat of the dryer will kill germs.
Separating your Loads
While the days of separating our laundry by colors aren’t necessarily over nowadays, there is a second option. If you’re washing your laundry on the cold water setting, you don’t need to be as conscious of separating by color because it’s the warm and hot water that causes a lot of the color transfer. Some transfer can still occur in cold water, but the chance is reduced, so you can more easily combine your darks and mediums (we’d still keep whites away from dark clothing).
Your second option is to your wash by fabric type- this way you can ensure that your fabrics are being properly cared for, and your gentler items aren’t being worn down by being washed with sturdier items. Towels and athleisure, for example, should be washed separately to avoid towel fluff from sticking to your yoga pants. Gentler fabrics, like wool sweaters and blouses, should ideally be wash separately from heavier items like jeans and sweats.
Everything You Need to Know About Your Dryer
Just like with your washer, understanding your dryer settings is key to taking care of your clothing and avoiding unnecessarily wearing down the fabric. Let’s take a look at the different dryer settings, and which types of clothing they are best suited for.
This is probably your go-to setting, right? After all, it’s called regular, so it must be for all of your regular clothes! While it makes sense that you’d think this, you would be wrong! The regular setting is generally the most heavy duty setting on your machine (i.e. it gives off the highest heat), and it is great for thicker items like towels and sweatpants. Using this setting for every day clothing like tshirts, sweaters, and underwear will wear them out more quickly and cause shrinking and fading.
You may usually skip over this setting because you’re a bit unsure what it even means, but this is the one that you should be using most often! It is a medium heat setting, so it’s gentler on your clothes, and it has a cool down period, which helps to avoid wrinkling.
The delicate cycle is, not surprisingly, for your delicates! That means underwear, wools, linens, items containing spandex, etc. It’s a low heat setting, so it’s really gentle, and will greatly reduce the chance of shrinking your clothes.
The gentlest setting of all. It’s actually a no heat cycle and is best used on items that are very prone to shrinking,
And of course, there’s always good old fashioned air drying- hang your clothes out in the sun, and let nature do the drying for you! This saves energy, gives your clothes that fresh off-the-line smell, and can help whiten your whites. Keep in mind that the sun can fade your colors, so you may want to air dry dark colored clothing inside or in the shade.
Everything You Need to Know About Handwashing
Then there are those items that really are just too delicate for the wash, like your hosiery or a silk top. For these, we hand wash!
Handwashing is really simple, but many people do it wrong and think they need to rub together the fabric to somehow scrub it clean. What you actually want to do is simulate a washing machine, and here’s exactly how you do it.
Fill your basin with water
For very delicate items you can use cool water, but for the most part warm is fine.
Add your detergent
Remember that you’re likely only washing a few items, so you don’t need a lot of detergent. Generally, 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon should cut it. Adding too much soap will cause a lot of suds-ing and will take forever to wash the soap out of your clothes, which can be harsh on your delicates.
Agitate the water
This is how you simulate your machine. With your hands, agitate the water and your clothing, giving the soap the chance to penetrate into your fabric. After you’ve spent a few minutes on this, allow the garment to soak. Delicate materials like silk and cashmere will only need a few minutes, while sturdier material, like cotton, can soak longer.
There are two ways to rinse, depending on the sturdiness off your fabrics. For very delicate items, pour out the soapy water, and then refill with clean water and agitate gently until all of the soap comes out of the garment, repeating with fresh water if necessary. Sturdier items can be rinsed directly under running tap water.
Wet fabric is very fragile, so you don’t want to wring out your items. Instead, after pouring out your water, gently press down on your garments to release as much water as possible. Then, place the item onto a clean dry towel and roll up to absorb excess moisture and then hang to dry.
This may seem like a lot of information, but just a few adjustments can mean a major difference in preserving your clothing! Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll be sharing more laundry tips and a rundown on stain removal.
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