Steer clear of these mishaps to get the best clean...

Steer clear of these mishaps to get the best clean on laundry day. Credit: Getty Images/TNS/Cris Cantón

Laundry involves more than tossing clothes into the washing machine and pulling them out when they’re clean. If you’re not careful, certain laundry mistakes can damage your clothing and impact the effectiveness of your washer. To avoid these issues, Steer clear of the following mistakes:

1. You use too much laundry detergent

It might seem like using more detergent would help get your clothes cleaner, but in fact, the opposite is true. Adding too much detergent can create extra suds that don’t completely rinse out of clothes, leaving behind a sticky residue that attracts more dirt, dust and bacteria. Pay close attention to the fill line as you measure detergent into the cup, and use only the amount recommended for the size of your laundry load.

2. You don’t sort laundry by material

Separate heavier items, such as jeans and sweaters, from lightweight blouses and dress shirts to prevent abrasion and damage to the more delicate fabrics. Always wash towels, bedding and other bulky items separate from clothing. Grouping items by fabric also helps laundry dry evenly, as heavy items take longer to dry. To avoid getting sweater fuzz on dress pants, you can also sort laundry by items that shed lint and those that attract it.

3. You don’t zip up garments before washing

Zippers have jagged teeth that can snag other fabrics in the washer. To prevent damage to other garments, take the time to zip up all zippers before washing. Also, fasten clasps on bras and other items to avoid snags.

4. You button shirts before washing

Unlike zippered items, button-down shirts, sleeves and collars should be left unbuttoned when laundered. This helps guard against tears in the buttonholes and protects the button threads from being pulled and loosened in the wash. 

5. You close the front-loader door after a wash cycle

Front-loading washing machines are notorious for trapping moisture and bacteria around the door, which can lead to mold and unpleasant smells. To keep your washer free of bacteria and odors, leave the door open after each wash cycle to allow the area to dry out. You can close it again after a few hours, or when the rubber gasket and washer drum feel completely dry.

6. You forget to clean out dryer lint

Lint buildup in your dryer can pose a fire hazard. After each laundry load, remove the lint screen or filter and use a brush to clean off as much lint as possible. It’s also important to regularly clean the cavity that holds the lint filter. This area can house additional lint that blocks airflow and prevents the dryer from working as efficiently as it could. Additionally, check the dryer duct annually to ensure it’s not clogged.

7. You don’t regularly clean your washing machine

Your washer cleans your clothes and linens, but the machine itself needs to be washed occasionally, too. Grime from your dirty laundry, detergent residue, hard-water deposits and mold or mildew can build up inside the washer over time. To clean your washing machine, use the self-clean cycle or run an empty hot-water cycle with vinegar instead of detergent. Be sure to scrub around the lid and rubber gasket, which can harbor moisture and bacteria and result in musty-smelling laundry.

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