How to wash clothes

July 28, 2015

Following the care labels and interpreting symbols correctly are the surest ways of getting a good result with both washing and dry cleaning. The following will go that much further and offer tips on  fabrics so you can properly take care of your clothes and solve common problems.

How to wash clothes

Types of fabrics

Reducing or omitting spinning is good for fabrics that crease easily. If the washing is too wet to take out, a second slow spin is better than one fast spin.

Fabric tips and variations

  1. White cotton.
  2.  Linen without a special finish. For white sheets and towels. Normal rinse, can be fully spun. Use to kill germs, such as in washable diapers.
  3.  Colourfast cotton and some polyesters. Lower temperature prevents colour run. Spin fully.
  4. Non-colourfast cotton and polyesters. Use "gentle" cycle for easy-care fabrics and reduce or omit spinning.
  5.  Cottons and viscose and other synthetics.
  6.  Wool. Can be fully spun.
  7.  Non-colourfast cottons. Use "gentle" cycle for viscose and synthetics, such as nylon, and reduce spinning.
  8. Delicate synthetics, such as rayon and nylon.
  9.  Wool. Use "delicates" cycle for machine washable wool. Reduce or omit spin.
  10.  Silk.
  11.  Cashmere.
  12.  Delicate fabrics.

Delicate items

Items with beading or other delicate decoration

Wash in barely hand-hot water (maximum 40°C/105°F). Rinse well, don't rub or wring. Can be spun if crease-resistant.

  • Wools
  • Cashmere
  • Angora
  • Leather
  • Most tailored garments. Don't wash.

Solving common problems

Grey whites

  • Insufficient detergent. Add more detergent, lemon juice or store-bought whitener.
  • Water too cool. Rewash in hottest water safe for fabric.

Whites turn coloured

  • Incorrect sorting. Soak in a colour remover and rewash. Soak new garments in vinegar to fix colour before washing.

Creasing and wrinkling

  • Incorrect cycle. Reduce temperature and/or spin cycle.
  • Overloaded machine or clothes left in for too long.

Fluff on garments

  • Lint producers (such as towels) washed with lint receivers (corduroy). Sort washing better. Remove fluff with sticky tape.
  • Tissues left in pockets. Shake and brush off when dry.
  • Clogged filter. Unblock, then run machine empty for one cycle.

Drying and dry cleaning

Check carefully before you tumble dry; even some cottons can shrink in a hot dryer.

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