Laundry is one of those chores that never really gets done. No matter how much laundry you do, there’s always another load around the corner. It’s a running joke in my house that the 13 seconds when the laundry in the house is all done is the best 13 seconds in the week. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last much longer than that.
With all that hands-on experience, you'd think we'd know what we're doing, right? But chances are you're guilty of committing at least one of these laundry no-nos.
1. Using too much detergent. Allan Feldman, owner of The Dirty Come Clean, a laundromat in Morgantown, West Virginia, says the No. 1 mistake people make when it comes to cleaning their clothes is putting too much soap in the washing machine. “The dirtier the clothes, the more soap they use,” he says. “And what happens is that the rinse cycle on the washer doesn’t get them completely clean.”
These days, laundry detergent is designed to work even when you use very little, so read the directions, and don’t over-soap! Your clothes (and your budget) will thank you.
2. Washing too often. People tend to throw things in the washing machine after they’ve worn them only once, which isn’t always necessary. Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, recently told the New York Times, "Clean pants twice during the summer. And then when you’re done with the season, clean them once again before you put them back into your closet."
The exceptions are socks, underwear, kid’s play clothes — and anything else that's clearly dirty should get washed after each wearing.
3. Stuffing the dryer. People have a tendency to stuff the dryer, especially at the laundromat, to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. But it’s not saving them anything. “A dryer needs air to dry your clothes. The more clothes you put in, the less air that can get in,” Feldman says. And the less efficient your dryer cycle will be.
4. Machine-washing delicates. The washing machine is great for getting clothes clean, but your bra and other delicates have no business in there. If you insist on using the washing machine, at least put them in a delicates bag, and for heaven’s sake, don’t dry them! Best way to get them clean? Hand wash with other delicates in a sink in cool water.
5. Not cleaning the lint trap. Believe it or not, some people only clean their lint trap in the dryer once a week. Consumer Reports recommends cleaning the lint trap every time you dry a load to keep the machine running efficiently. And cleaning the vent behind the dryer is a must-do at least once a year to prevent dryer fires. You can do it yourself or hire a professional.
Innovations in machines to make washing clothes even easier are coming our way, too. The Laundroid robot, set to be released by the end of 2017, promises to wash, dry and fold your clothes for you. In Feldman’s laundromat, you can start the washing machines with your smartphone. Of course says Feldman, “there are still those people who don’t want to know anything about technology.” Lucky for them, his machines still take quarters, too.