Laundry Myths Debunked: Washing Machine Edition

washer myths

You’ve been doing laundry all wrong. We reveal the secrets to getting rid of stains, the difference between “Dry Clean” and “Dry Clean Only” and other washing machine misconceptions.

Are using your washing machine correctly? Are you sure?

There are many myths and misconceptions agitating the process, and they could be preventing you from getting all you can out of your machine. Here are five common myths, busted.

5 Washing Machine Myths

(Text Version of Infographic)

5 Washing Machine Myths Busted

Myth 1: Using more detergent gets your clothes cleaner. It can actually damage your washer, especially in high-efficiency (HE) washers. “The residue will build up in the washer and can cause smells and component failures,” says Mike Showalter, laundry expert at Sears. However, if you have hard water, you might actually need more detergent. Read the label on your detergent bottle for hard water recommendations.

Myth 2: To get clothes really clean, you need to wash in hot water. Most newer washers and detergents are designed to clean your clothes in cold water. By using hot or warm, you’re wasting the energy needed to heat up the water. Save the hot water for things like sheets and pillowcases. Tip: For items that need extra attention to disinfect, like post-workout gym clothes, do a cold-water prerinse before washing.

Myth 3: The way to load is: water, soap, and then clothes. That was the way for older top-loading washers, but now it depends on your machine. Some HE front-load machines have a dispenser for soap, and for others, you put the clothes in first.

Myth 4: Throw stained clothes in the washer immediately. Pre-treating stains is the key to getting them out. Tip: For red wine, try covering the stain with salt and letting it sit for a bit. The salt draws out the wine. For oil (from salad dressing or bacon, say) cover the stain with cornstarch. For serious stains, pre-soak the clothes in a product like OxiClean.

Myth 5: You can’t wash an item that reads “dry clean” on the label. If it says “dry clean,” that’s the recommended method. If it’s not silk, wool, taffeta, or velvet, you should be OK washing it on the gentle or hand-wash cycle. Just don’t put it in the dryer. If the label says “dry clean only,” take it to the cleaners.