10 Laundry Rules That Aren't Actually True

items involved in laundry myths

The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

You've probably learned a lot of rules about doing laundry over the years—separate whites from darks, don't put shrinkable fabrics in the dryer—but some tips or "laundry hacks" you may have picked up on aren't actually true.

Read on to discover ten laundry rules you can stop following immediately!

  • 01 of 10

    Use Hair Spray to Remove Ink

    using hair spray to remove ink

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    The idea of using hairspray to remove ink from laundry began in the 1950s and was actually a valid tip. It was the alcohol in hairspray that worked on the ink stain. Today's hairsprays are different from those aerosols of yesteryear, though. Many formulas do not even contain alcohol and can actually cause stains, compounding the problem of the ink that's still on your favorite jeans.

    Fortunately, we have tips on removing both ink and hairspray stains that you can use. 

  • 02 of 10

    Add Coffee to Rinse Water to Keep Clothes Black

    using coffee to keep darks dark

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    Some people are convinced that adding a cup of black coffee to the rinse water would prevent black jeans from fading. In reality, it would take a washer-full of espresso to make a difference in the color of black jeans.

    Coffee can color fabric, but adding one cup will not keep your black clothes from fading; follow these tips to keep black clothes black.

  • 03 of 10

    Use More Detergent to Get Cleaner Clothes

    using extra detergent

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    More is not better when it comes to laundry detergent. We are all quite guilty of using too much detergent and creating excessive suds that actually redeposit soil onto our clothing. 

    Many liquid detergent caps make it difficult to see measuring lines. Take time to use a permanent marker to enhance those lines. You'll save money and get cleaner laundry. It is also a good idea to use half as much detergent as recommended and see if you are pleased with the results. You can always add more, but you can never pull it out.

    If you have a front load washer, that smell coming from your machine could be because you are using too much detergent and fabric softener.

  • 04 of 10

    Treat All Stains From the Front

    spot treating a garment

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    As tempting as it is to tackle the stain on a shirt by rubbing it away, turn it inside out and start there. By treating a stain from the back of the fabric, you are pushing the stain out of the fabric fibers rather than rubbing it in deeper. Learn more about spot treating stains to save yourself some frustration and to reduce your laundry loads.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Chlorine Bleach Boosts Detergent Power

    adding bleach to detergent

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    Chlorine bleach and detergents can actually cancel each other out and leave your clothes still looking dull and stained. To allow the enzymes in the laundry detergents time to do their job of whitening and brightening, wait about five minutes after the wash cycle begins to add your diluted bleach.

    Want to boost chlorine bleach's whitening power? Add baking soda at the same time!

  • 06 of 10

    Hot Water Kills All Laundry Germs

    washing machine dial

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    Unfortunately, using hot water alone for laundry does not kill all germs and bacteria. Washing clothing or linens of someone who is ill can spread the germs to other fabrics whether you use hot or cold water.

    Only a disinfectant like chlorine bleach, pine oil, or a phenolic disinfectant will sanitize the laundry and the washer.

  • 07 of 10

    High Dryer Heat Causes Shrinking

    shrunken tee shirt

    Cristofer Jeschke / Unsplash

    There are many reasons clothes shrink. Some of it is beyond your control due to decisions made by the manufacturers.

    There are ways to avoid stretching and shrinking clothes; some fabric shrinkage is caused by the lack of moisture in fibers that comes from overdrying. Clothing should be removed from the dryer while still slightly damp and allowed to air dry if shrinkage is a concern.

  • 08 of 10

    Dryer Lint Is No Big Deal

    dryer lint

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

    If you don't mind:

    Then dryer lint is no big deal. 

    With just a little effort, your laundry routine can be better and safer. Emptying the lint trap on the dryer should be a routine step every time you use the dryer. Just check the lint filter before you press the on button. Easy, easy, easy.

    Then take the time once a year to clean the duct work and upgrade if needed. You'll save money and, possibly, the lives of your family.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Dry Cleaning Is 100 Percent Dry

    dry clean only labels

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    Dry cleaning is a bit of misnomer. Water isn't used, but other fluids are.

    Traditional dry cleaning used perchloroethylene and other solvents. Even green dry cleaners use silicone fluids and liquid carbon dioxide in their processes. The key to dry cleaning success is to select the best cleaner in your neighborhood

  • 10 of 10

    The Sock Monster Is Real

    disappearing socks

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena  

    Have you ever met the Sock Monster? Most missing socks are not eaten by a monster in your washer or dryer or even trapped in the machine. Most socks disappear between leaving the foot and the hamper or the hamper and the machines. Check behind your washer and dryer for a stash of socks that have fallen. Check the inside of pant legs for those secret clingers due to static electricity.

    Keep a basket or bin or mesh bag in the laundry for all those extra socks. Have a sorting and matching party once per month, or just buy your children only one kind of socks so they all match!

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Dirt on Laundry and How to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Sick. The University of Arizona.