Most of us tend to just bundle up a few items into the washing machine with a cup of detergent and call it done. In reality, washing your clothes this way can actually shorten their lifespan. But is there a right way to do laundry?
Follow these guidelines to make your clothing last longer:
The right way to do laundry
First off, sort your laundry into piles according to colour and fabric – whites/lights, medium, and blacks/darks; delicates, sturdy fabrics, and heavily soiled items.
What temperature should we use to wash our laundry?
A highly debated topic is whether you should use hot or cold water to get the most effective wash for your laundry. The argument for hot water rests on the fact that hot water kills harmful germs, while the counter-argument is that cold water is less damaging to your laundry and that it saves electricity. So, which temperature is the best? There is no right or wrong answer. The right way to do your laundry depends on the type of fabric and how dirty it is:
Washing with cold water (below 30°C)
Delicate items should always be washed with cold water and on a delicate cycle. These items include pantyhose, lingerie, silk, and wool. Lacy fabric is also regarded as delicate. Dark and bright colours should rather be washed in cold water to avoid fading or running of colours. Certain fabrics like viscose (rayon) might shrink when you wash it, so rather wash it with cold water to minimise the shrinking risk. Fabrics with protein-based stains like dairy or blood and other bodily fluids should always be washed in cold water, as warm water will only set the stain.
Washing with warm water (30°C – 40°C)
Warm water is best suited for everyday-items such as jeans and most shirts. However, don’t wash your jeans too often; wearing them more than once between washes will help them last longer.
Washing with hot water (60°C and above)
Hot water is best for killing harmful germs that may be lingering on fabrics. Items that should be washed with hot water include bath towels, bed sheets, kitchen towels, sweaty work-out clothes, cotton underwear, cleaning rags, and cloth diapers. Hot water is also the most useful in removing grease or oil stains – but consider the fabric with the stain before you wash it in hot water as it might get damaged.
Is it necessary to sanitise laundry?
Some people believe it’s necessary to sanitise clothing by washing them at temperatures 60°C and higher. However, most fabrics will get damaged at such high temperatures, and the heat itself will do nothing; you need to use sanitising detergent (like bleach) as well. So unless you’re washing diapers, towels, or hospital bedsheets, don’t use hot water. However, it is a good idea to sanitise the washing machine by cleaning it properly every few months, or after washing heavily soiled items.
Read the care label
There is a very good reason your clothes and other fabrics come with a tag. Carefully follow the washing instructions on the care label to get the most out of them. The washing temperature indicated on the care label is the highest temperature the fabric can withstand without shrinking, fading, or getting damaged. Never wash any fabrics when the care label instructs you not to.
Follow the instructions on the detergent
It’s always a good idea to follow the instructions on the detergent as well. Using too little won’t get your laundry clean; using too much might not rinse out properly. Always add a fabric softener as well.