Five laundry mistakes to stop in 2024 as they can damage and wear down your clothes

laundry

Certain laundry habits can be wearing out your clothes and damaging the fabrics over time (Image: Getty)

It is now a new year which means many people will be making resolutions to break bad habits, and there are some laundry practices that need to be left in 2023. 

Most people throw their clothes in the washing machine and call it a day, but they actually may be harming their clothes and causing them to wear down due to some simple laundry mistakes. 

These small issues can easily be fixed and can not only keep your clothes looking their best but will also help you save money and lower your electricity bills. 

Rebecca Jakeman, an expert from Which?, the UK’s leading consumer protection organisation, has shared the top laundry habits which can easily be fixed to stop you from accidentally harming your clothes. 

She wrote: “If your whites are not so bright, your darks and colours look dull, or your clothes are wearing out too soon, it could be the way you’re washing and drying your clothes. Even the best washing machines won’t be able to make up for using the wrong detergent or program.” 

READ MORE: Simple ‘one hand rule’ to follow when washing clothing for the cleanest laundry

laundry

Powder detergent should only be used for white clothing and can be too strong for dark and colourful clothing (Image: Getty)

Laundry mistakes to avoid in 2024

1. Using the same detergent for all your clothes

While most people simply use whatever detergent they have on hand, you can keep your clothes lasting much longer and continue to look brand new by considering which detergent you are using for a wash. 

You should use washing powder only for white clothes and a liquid detergent (such as a gel or capsule) for your dark and colourful clothing. 

Rebecca explained: “This is because most washing powders contain bleaching agents. This is an excellent way of keeping your white clothes bright, but it could also make your dark clothes fade with repeat washing.

“Liquid detergents, on the other hand, don’t use the same bleaching agents, so they’ll help your more colourful clothes keep their vibrancy.” 

Liquid detergents also dissolve better when washing, and make it more likely to remove stains on dark and colourful clothing, while powdered detergents can be too harsh and can ruin these clothes over time. 

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Washing clothes daily can cause clothes to break down (Image: Getty)

2. Overwashing 

Everybody wants their clothes to be at their best all the time, but washing clothes too frequently can lead to clothes wearing down over time. It can also make clothes such as jeans and sweatshirts lose their shape and fit if they are washed too much. 

Rebecca said: “While you don’t want to be known for wearing smelly clothes, you don’t always need to wash everything after wearing it once.” 

She added: “Not only will it keep your clothes in good condition for longer, it also means you’re using your washing machine less often, saving energy and water.”

According to Which, t-shirts and white clothing should always be washed after one or two uses, but jeans can be washed after six or ten wears. Sweatshirts can be washed after being worn five or six times while pyjamas should be washed after three or four uses. 

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Washing clothes on a cooler wash can be gentler on clothes (Image: Getty)

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3. Washing all clothes at the same temperature

The majority of people wash all their clothes at 40C according to Which?, but different temperatures are needed depending on your clothes.

Lower temperatures will not only be gentler on your clothing but also help cut down on how much energy you are using.

Rebecca wrote: “For lightly soiled clothes, a 30C or even 20C wash could do the trick. A Which? investigation into laundry habits found that a 30C wash uses 38 percent less energy than a 40C one. A 20°C wash will cut it down by 62 percent. 

“For bedding, towels, and clothes with lots of tough stains, you’ll probably want a hotter cycle.” 

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Washing machines should be cleaned regularly or clothes will smell after doing laundry (Image: Getty)

4. Putting up with a smelly washing machine

Washing machines are in constant contact with dirty laundry, which means bacteria and mould can build up in them over time if they are not being regularly cleaned.

A dirty washing machine with also not effectively clean clothes and can make them smell damp even if they have just been washed. 

Rebecca said: “Mould build-up in washing machines is tricky to avoid, but it looks unsightly and smells bad, so you probably don’t like cleaning your clothes in it.

“To get rid of mould and save your nostrils from smelly and musty odours, run a regular, hot service wash every few months (ideally with washing machine cleaner). Then gently clean the rubber seal with an anti-bacterial wipe.” 

You will also need to clean out the detergent drawer of the machine, which can easily be removed and simply washed in the sink and make sure to wipe under the silicone of your washing machine door.

The best way to prevent mould in the washing machine is to leave the door and detergent drawer open after use so humidity does not build up in the machine.

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Hanging clothes rather than using a tumble dryer can help keep clothes in shape (Image: Getty)

5. Throwing everything into the tumble dryer

While it is easy to simply throw everything in the dryer after a wash, this may damage your clothes. Certain clothes such as jeans, swimming gear, tights and bras should never be placed in the dryer as it is likely to ruin them or can bend them out of shape. 

Rebecca said: “If you must use it, make sure to fill it up, separate cottons from synthetics as they dry at different speeds, and regularly clean the lint filter and heat exchanger to ensure your tumble dryer is working as efficiently as possible.” 

Hanging clothes out to dry when possible is more time-consuming but much more gentle on clothing, meaning they are less likely to be worn down from being in the dryer. If you cannot hang clothes outside, place them in a room with open windows with plenty of ventilation to avoid mould or dampness in your home.

Rebecca added: “Don’t put any wet garments on radiators as this releases moisture into the air causing mould, and it will act as a barrier that prevents your home from heating up.”

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