6 Things Laundry Experts Wish You Knew to Avoid Ruining Your Clothes

To help you sort out your laundry habits,we spoke with some experts who clued us into the things they wish people knew about the common washer and dryer maintenance and cleaning practices.

1. You don’t need that much detergent

If detergent cleans your clothes, then more of it will make your clothes even cleaner, right? Nope, not necessarily.

“More detergent can leave your clothes feeling soapy and crusty, and it will make your washing machine work harder,”says David Moreno, co-founder of Liberty Home Guard. “Your washing machine may trigger extra rinse cycles if it believes there is still soap in the drum.”

These extra cycles cause unnecessary wear and tear on your machine, he says, cutting short the life span of your appliance.

2. Give those dryer sheets a break

When something works, there’s a tendency to overdo it. Just as you may use too much detergent, you may be using too many dryer sheets. According to Moreno, many people tend to double up.

“Dryer sheets leave residue behind that can reduce the efficiency of your dryer,” he says. “That additional residue may clog your lint screen and reduce air circulation throughout your machine.”

Without proper circulation, your dryer could overheat and might cause a house fire.

3. You need to balance the items in your machines

We know you’re busy, and it’s so tempting to randomly throw items into the washing machine. But an unbalanced washer can damage the drum and other interior parts. That's why it's important to washbulky items in pairs and fill the washer to its capacity.

Be sure to keep the balance when using your dryer, too.

"Don’t dry bed sheets and towels together since bed sheets are a much lighter-weight fabric and could over dry waiting for the towels to finish," says Billy Miller, an expert at the Whirlpool Corporation Institute of Home Science.

4. Those water fill hoses are probably filthy

You likely don’t pay a lot of attention to the water fill hoses attached to your washing machine. However, according to Benjamin Joseph, co-founder at Liberty Home Guard, hundreds of loads of laundry, and dirty water, can cause a buildup of gunk.

"Your discharge hose needs to be clear if you want your washer to remove grey water efficiently,” says Joseph.“If you notice your hoses are gunky or damaged, replace them."

5. Fabric softener can make your clothes last longer

Fabric softener can do more than just eliminate static cling and make your clothes smell good.

According to Laura Goodman, senior scientist for Procter & Gamble fabric care, when added to your washer, it can also make your clothes last longer.

“Garment fibers are similar to hair fibers and, over time, can be damaged from rubbing against other clothes in the wash and the heat of the dryer,” she says. “A fabric conditioner acts similarly to a hair conditioner, smoothing the fibers to prevent friction in the washer and dryer that leads to stretch, fade, and fuzz on garments.”

6. Most of your lint isn’t coming from the lint trap

By now, you know that you need to clean your dryer’s lint trap after each load.

“As the dryer lint and debris build-up,it makes your dryer work harder, ultimately increasing your energy bills,” says Paul Berry, franchise owner of Mr. Appliance in San Antonio, TX. And,eventually, it could cause your dryer’s heating element to malfunction.

“However, most people don’t know that dryer lint only makes up about 25% of the lint and debris that flows throughthe system,” Berry says. “The other 75% can build up throughout the entire dryer vent system, including unseen areas such as the pipes running through thewalls or ceilings on its way out of your home.”

And all of this lint building up could cause an appliance fire. He recommends having your dryer vents professionally cleaned at least once a year.


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