Don’t Wash Stains in Hot Water
Stains from sweat, blood and most foods require a cold rinse so the stain doesn’t set. Washing in hot water will set the stain and make it impossible to remove later. And really, why waste energy when a cold wash is good for almost every load?
Don’t Use Too Much Detergent
If you have a High Efficiency (HE) washer, be sure to use the proper kind of detergent. High efficiency detergents are concentrated, so you don’t need much. Using too much detergent--in any type of washer--makes clothes stiff and hard, and adds a film that can trap dirt as you wear them.
Use Bleach with Care
The “whites” or “cottons” cycle on most washers is designed to work with bleach, and it adds an extra rinse at the end of a wash to get the chlorine smell out of your clothes. If you’re washing your whites on these cycles without bleach, you’re wasting water on an extra rinse. And if you add bleach to a normal cycle, your clothes won’t get the extra rinse and will smell like bleach.
Rearrange Bulky Loads
Laundering sheets, comforters, towels, and jeans requires some extra attention. In the washer, large or heavy items can unbalance a load and cause it to stop the cycle. Be sure to keep an eye (or ear) on heavier loads in case they become unbalanced. In the dryer, bulky items often bunch up because they don’t have enough space to move around. It helps to remove the item halfway through the cycle and rearrange it. It’s a little extra work, but it will shorten the time these items spend in the dryer and ensure they get completely dry.
Air Dry or Damp Dry Delicates
The stress of high heat and constant tumbling can cause delicate items to shrink and wear out prematurely. Many dryers contain a “damp dry” or “less dry” setting that automatically stops a cycle when clothes are dry enough to hang on a line. You can hang your delicates right out of the washer too!
Check Your Vents and Hoses
It goes without saying that you must clean your dryer’s lint screen after every load. In addition, clogged dryer vent tubes decrease your dryer’s efficiency and increase the risk of a dryer fire. Washer hoses that are loose, cracked, or just old can burst, leaving you with a flooded laundry room or basement.
Read The Manual
For washers and dryers alike, cycles go by different names depending on the brand. “Regular” on one brand may be “Normal” on another and “Permanent Press” on a third. The manual will tell you which cycle to use for each load. If you’ve lost the manual, check online; you can download most manuals for free.