Clothes cost a lot of money and you want them to last as long as possible. To protect your investment, here are some tips to help you prevent laundry mistakes that will send your clothes from the closet to the rag bag.
01 of 10
Carry a Stain Removal Pen or Wipe
The first rule in treating stains is to do so as quickly as possible. Stain removal pens and wipes are the latest innovations in stain removal convenience. Follow the instructions carefully and be sure to follow-up when you get home. The pens are great, but they are not magic—you still need to launder the garment to prevent damage.
02 of 10
Inspect, Treat and Reinspect Stains
Stains happen, and every garment should be checked for stains that may need additional treatment before it is washed. If you don't have time to treat the stain promptly, mark the spot with a clothespin or huge safety pin so you'll remember to treat it before washing.
For specific stain removal information, check Laundry Stains A to Z for step-by-step instructions. And, don't forget to recheck the stained area after washing. If it is not gone, repeat the treatment. The stain will be much harder to remove if it is dried at high heat.
03 of 10
Read Fabric Care Labels
Unless you are a well-experienced laundry expert, you must read the care labels in clothing. If it says wash in cold water, then believe it. If the label says dry clean only, believe it—especially if the item is new.
As you gain experience, you will learn that some items labeled hand-wash can be placed in the washer on a gentle cycle. Or, some unstructured garments like sweaters or knit garments can be hand-washed rather than dry cleaned.
However, if in doubt, follow the care label or ask an expert.
04 of 10
Always Sort Laundry
When you throw your clothes into a washer, they essentially dance with each other as they move around. Would you want your lacy, nylon blouse dancing close to a jagged metal zipper on a hooded jacket? Probably not.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Button Up and Zip It
If you're buttoning, zipping or closing your garments, they will be less likely to snag another fabric or even snap themselves. You don't want to find clothes hooked to each other.
Your clothing will also last longer if after you've buttoned them up, you turn them inside out. This will prevent wear and tear on the outer finish, help prevent pilling and limit color fading.
When your clothes are clean, be sure you are using the correct type of hanger. Thin, wire hangers can cause stretch marks on shoulders or even misshape clothes by allowing stretching. Remember always to fold knitted items rather than hang to prevent stretching.
06 of 10
Use a Mesh Bag for Delicates
07 of 10
Go Easy with Detergent & Fabric Softener
Almost everyone is guilty of using too much laundry detergent or fabric softener in a load. More detergent does not always equal more cleaning. The extra detergent settles back on the clothing and leaves the finish dull and stiff.
Begin by using half of the usual amount of detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda as a detergent booster. You will be amazed that your laundry comes out just as clean and you'll be saving money. If you are not pleased, add a bit more detergent the next time.
Commercial fabric softeners promise to make clothes last longer. They work by coating fibers with lubricants that make the fabrics feel softer to the touch. The lubricants also cause fibers to slide against each other more easily to reduce static cling, make fibers feel more fluffy and reduce wear and tear on fabrics.
However, using too much fabric softener can leave an excessive residue that reduces absorbency, dulls colors and causes bacteria odors to be trapped in fibers.
Try distilled white vinegar as your fabric softener. It gently removes residue and leaves clothes feeling soft.
08 of 10
Don't Overload the Washer
Cramming the washer full of clothes may seem like the easy way to get more laundry done quickly, but it is harmful to your clothing. First, they don't get as clean and secondly, they rub together so much there is actual harm to the finish of your clothes.
Learn how to load a washer properly to protect your clothing investment.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Lower the Heat
Extremely high heat in the dryer can also set stains and cause damage to fabrics. Follow label instructions carefully and select the right dryer cycle to get the best results.
10 of 10
Be Careful with Bleach
Chlorine bleach will damage any fabric—including white cotton—if used in too high a concentration. Always dilute chlorine bleach and learn to use it safely.
Bleach stains can occur when bleach is accidentally splashed on clothing, leftover bleach drips from an automatic dispenser, or a piece of laundry that has come in contact with bleach touches another item. Take extreme care to avoid these problems - especially if you are sharing a laundry space with others.