8 common laundry mistakes that may damage your washing machine
Zippers, coins and clasps —oh my! Follow these tips for a long-lasting, efficient washer.
Thu, May 08, 2014 at 11:18 AM
A washing machine is an essential household appliance. It’s also a major financial investment. Here’s how to avoid laundry-day faux pas that have the potential to damage your washer ... perhaps permanently.
Besides snagging delicate clothes, zippers can catch in your washing machine’s drum. Zipper scratches on the doors of front loading washers are even suspected of perhaps causing the glass panel to explode.
Fix: Before doing a load of laundry, make sure any zipper tabs are pulled all the way to the top.
Your dainty “lady things” can actually be pretty rough on even the toughest washer. Hooks and underwires may damage the drum.
Fix: Hand wash, or stash your lingerie in a specially-made mesh bag. An old pillow case works equally well, as long as you knot the end.
Another type of metal object that endangers your laundry machine is coins. Left unnoticed in a pocket or tote, these batter against your washer’s drum and glass door with even more force than zippers or hooks.
Fix: Check the pockets of all clothes before tossing them in the machine. Some folks claim that keeping any cash found this way is a perk for the person who does the wash.
4. Cold water
Although washing with cold water saves energy and reduces shrinkage and fading of your natural-fiber clothes, you can have too much of a good thing. Your washing machine will perform better (and smell better!) if you regularly run a maintenance cycle.
Fix: Set the (empty) machine to its hottest temperature, add a cup of vinegar and put the washer through its paces to descale and remove mineral deposits. Perform this task at least once a month.
5. Wet clothes
Leaving wet laundry in the machine long after the wash cycle has completed leads to unpleasant odors and possibly mold in both your clothes and your washer.
Fix: remove finished wash loads promptly. When, for whatever reason, you can’t dry the laundry immediately, place it in a plastic laundry basket in a ventilated area to reduce the risk of smells and mildew. If you’re unable even to do that, at least open the washing machine door.
6. Too much detergent
Overdosing your washer with detergent won’t get your clothes cleaner – in fact it tends to leave them dingy due to leftover soap residue – and it just might damage your machine’s sensitive control panel.
Fix: Check your user’s manual to see how much detergent is optimal for your model, then use that as a measuring guide, especially if you have a modern high-efficiency washing machine. Out of laundry detergent? Resist the temptation to sub in dishwasher detergent; its high foaming action is really bad news for a clothes washer.
7. Too much electricity
A lightning strike or severe power surge can harm circuits and melt plastic components of any appliance containing a microprocessor, such as refrigerators, computers and washing machines.
Fix: Protect all expensive appliances by grounding your electrical system adequately and installing surge protectors. It is recommended to unplug your washer when not in use.
8. Too much laundry
Your washing machine is willing to work only so hard and no harder. Overstuffing it with dirty clothes tends to cause excessive wear on its suspension and bearings.
Fix: Check the manufacturer’s suggestions for your particular model’s capacity in pounds. Weigh a few sample loads to get an idea of what that looks like. Remember that items such as heavy denim work clothes or thick wool sweaters generally weigh more than the same volume of, say, polyester blouses.
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Zipper: Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock