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Five laundry habits to stop immediately

Follow our tips for enviably clean clothes that need replacing less often

Are your whites not so brilliant anymore? Your clothes wearing out too soon? It could be because of how you’re washing and drying them.

Help make sure your clothes look pristine and fresh in the summer sun by taking heed of these five laundry no-nos.


Visit our shortlist of the best washing machines.


1. Using the same detergent for whites and darks

It’s best to use washing powder for white washes, and liquid detergent (including liquids, gels and capsules) for darks.

Most washing powders contain bleach. This helps keep your white clothes bright, but could make your dark clothes fade.

Liquid detergents, on the other hand, help your more colourful clothes keep their vibrancy.

2. Over or under-washing

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

If you haven’t been doing something to get your clothes particularly dirty or smelly, you can follow these guidelines:

3. Washing everything at the same temperature

Most Which? members clean their clothes on a 40°C cycle, but it’s a good idea to adjust the temperature based on the load going into your washing machine.

For lightly soiled clothes, a 30°C or even 20°C wash could do the trick – and will cut washing costs, too.

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

For more guidelines, including at what temperatures you should wash underwear, bed sheets and baby clothes, consult our washing machine temperature breakdown.

4. Putting up with a smelly washing machine

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 it and save your nostrils from smelly and musty odours, the good news is that you don’t need to buy any additional detergents or cleaning products; you just need to do a bit of regular cleaning of your machine

To find out what to clean, how and when, visit our guide on how to clean a smelly washing machine.

5. Throwing everything into the tumble dryer

Putting everything from your washing machine wash straight into the tumble dryer isn’t the best approach for getting dry clothes.

Instead, you should dry similar fabrics together on dedicated programs.

Plus, there are some clothes you should never tumble – unless you want them to fray, sag, or ruin:

  • Bras: the heat could bend them out of shape.
  • Swimming costumes: the Lycra in them can distort and break.
  • Sports shoes: the rubber can shrink, affecting support and cushioning.
  • Tights: the delicate material can tear.
  • Embellished clothes: sequins could put tiny rips into other clothes, and stones or beads can melt.

For more tumble dryer tips and tricks, take a look at our tumble dryer FAQs.

More washing tips

Which? has tested and researched washing machines for decades, so we’re a good bet if you want to know how to keep your clothes clean and surviving for as long as possible.

Treat yourself to a browse of all our washing machine advice. We have everything you need to know, including how to fix a dodgy detergent drawer, how to deal with strange sounds from your washing machine, and who makes the most reliable washing machine brands.

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