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doing laundry basics

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You spent a lot of time picking out your precious clothes. You’ve put a tremendous amount of energy into curating your wardrobe, haven’t you? You have waited in lines for changing rooms, found disappointment when the jeans at this store didn’t fit, and trudged onto the next one, tolerating the nuisance that is a clothing store,  and the next one until finally finding the right pants. When you find those beloved pieces that flatter you and make you happy, you should do what you can to preserve them for as long as possible. Washing them correctly can help with that, though many of us wash our clothes the wrong way. In fact, many of us wash all of our clothes the same way. It’s so easy to just toss everything in the washing machine, and then move it onto the dryer. Everything gets done quick and easy, but if you ruin your clothes, then you didn’t accomplish much. Here are ways you’re probably washing your clothes wrong.

doing laundry basics

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Machine-washing lacy underwear

Never put your sexy, lacy delicates in any sort of machine. They can’t handle being tossed around like that. If they are lace, then that means they contain small holes. The zipper or button of something else in the machine can easily snag these and rip them apart. Hand-wash lacy panties and lay them out in the sun to dry.

doing laundry basics

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Turning up the heat

When it comes to the dryer, hotter is not always better. But the settings on many dryers are all out of whack. If the “regular” setting can be so hot that you burn your hands when taking out the laundry, set your dryer to a lower setting. You just need your clothes dry—not hot. If they’re piping hot, their fibers have probably been worn out in that machine.

doing laundry basics

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Washing jeans after each wear

There’s really no need to wash your jeans after every single wear. They aren’t delicate and super porous like a white tank top. They’re thick and durable. They don’t retain odors as much as blouses. If you want a trick for just refreshing them without washing them, put them in the freezer for a few hours and then defrost them. It works!

doing laundry basics

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Always using hot water

Only do so if specified. So many of us have hot, hot water as our default setting for all clothes, but hot water makes colors bleed and wastes energy. Most garments do fine in cold water. Cold water plus detergent will get rid of most common stains and odors.

doing laundry basics

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Not lying things truly flat

If you do need to lay something flat to dry, really flatten it out. Smooth out those creases. If you don’t, the sun will essentially dry those wrinkles right into place. That’s why you wind up with super wrinkly clothes that have been tossed on a table outside to dry.

doing laundry basics

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Hang-drying knits

Don’t hang-dry your knits. Those lovely crochet tops, for example, shouldn’t be flung over the back of a chair. Their fabric is heavy, and the weight of it when hung to dry can stretch out the garment. Lay these flat on a table.

doing laundry basics

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Washing too many at once

I know, I know: doing multiple loads is a nuisance. But if you stuff everything in your machine, filling it to the brim, the detergent won’t be able to spread out, and you won’t sufficiently wash everything. So, you’ll have to do another load anyways.

doing laundry basics

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Leaving zippers unzipped

Have you ever listened to a dryer and heard a repetitive clanking sound? That’s probably a loose zipper. If you put something in the dryer that has a zipper, like a hoodie, be sure to zip it up and turn it inside out. You don’t want the zipper repeatedly hitting the walls of the dryer—that’s how it can break off.

doing laundry basics

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Leaving drawstrings untied

What are you to do when you pull your sweatpants out of the dryer to find that the drawstring has come out? It can happen, and it’s a huge pain in the butt. In order to prevent this, make sure to tie drawstrings in a tight bow before putting them in the dryer.

doing laundry basics

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Machine-drying workout clothes

The synthetic fabrics in these can lose their shape fast in the dryer. That’s why your once tight-fitting, shape-lifting workout pants are now loose and baggy. You can machine-wash these, but hang them up to dry.

doing laundry basics

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Machine-washing wool

Never, ever machine-wash wool. It’s a very particular fabric that will be destroyed in the wash. Simply put your wools in a sink full of water with a small spoon or two of delicates detergent. Swish them around, let them soak for 10 minutes, rinse, and lay flat to dry.

doing laundry basics

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Machine-drying denim

You don’t have to machine-dry your denim. Doing so regularly will cause it to lose its shape and elasticity. And jeans can be too expensive to take that risk. You can lay these outside flat to dry—they’ll stay softer and stretchy longer.

doing laundry basics

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Machine-washing swimsuits

Never machine-wash your swimsuits. These are some of the most delicate items of all. Really, just a thorough rinse in the sink will remove the harmful elements of chlorine or salt water.

doing laundry basics

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Sun-drying dark clothes

Don’t put your darks outside to dry. The sun will fade them. That’s how many of your once-black tops become grey and your pinks become peach.

doing laundry basics

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Machine-drying your bras

Never, ever machine-dry your bras. Lay these out in the sun. Remember that these have things like underwire and plastic elements in the straps that can be destroyed by the heat of the dyer.

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