Whether your washing machine is old or new, follow our advice on the things you should never do to get the best out of it and keep it washing for longer.
Overloading your washing machine's drum so that it's completely packed will lead to less than perfect wash results and could damage your machine.
Washing machines are designed to wash a certain weight of clothes and no more. It varies with the type of laundry, though - you can usually wash more cottons, such as bed sheets, than synthetics, such as gym kit.
Many modern machines won't allow you to overload them. They simply won't wash if there's too much in the drum or too much for the wash program you've selected.
But some machines won't stop you from washing, even if the drum is full to bursting. This could lead to poor wash results, as there's less room for the water and detergent to spread throughout the load.
More seriously, overloading could damage the way the drum spins and, over time, this could mean the life of your machine will be shortened.
Disappointing wash results are certain if you use too much detergent. While stains might be tackled effectively, a lot of the detergent will still be lurking in your clothes following the rinse phase.
On light items, you won't be able to see this, but if you wear a lot of dark clothes, evidence of overdosing will be obvious, with either flecks of detergent powder on the clothes or translucent smears of liquid detergent visible. Either way, it's not a great look.
Using too much detergent could also be a problem for you if your skin is sensitive to the chemicals used in the detergent.
A sure-fire way to end up with ruined clothes is to mix your white shirts, sheets or anything else with a bunch of coloured clothes. Do this, and dirty greys will be the order of the day.
Dyes may be better than they once were, but colours will still run. So read the care label before your wash.
Clothes can also be damaged if you wash them at the wrong temperature in your washing machine.
Cotton is stretched in manufacture and will shrink a little following a first wash. But if you get the water temperature wrong, shrinkage could be much worse.
The best washing machines will wash your clothes for years, and you may well be delighted with the results.
But the machine itself will need cleaning, too.
Over months and years, the inside of your washing machine will get dirty, mould can build up and this can lead to your machine smelling bad.
This is becoming more common, as most of us now wash at lower temperatures with non-biological detergents.
Washing machines can spin at superfast speeds. To be able to do this safely, the machine needs to be level on the floor.
If your machine is installed by a professional, they will check the machine is level for you and will make any adjustments.
Remove belts from trousers and jeans before you wash.
The glass in washing machine doors is toughened, but a belt buckle spinning at 1,600 rpm will do the glass in the door no good whatsoever.
And something small like a coin could end up blocking the filter or causing a din as your machine spins.
Make sure that you remove any tissues or other bits of paper from your trouser pockets before you wash.
If you're in a hurry or you just forget to do this, you could end up with bits of soggy paper all over your wash.
Many people use the same wash program regardless of the clothes that they're washing.
But the manual will recommend specific programs, based on the fabrics being washed and how dirty they are.
So a pile of stinky rugby kit should be washed for longer and in hotter water than something like work clothes, which might not be visibly dirty.
It's very easy to forget about maintaining your washing machine, but if you do this, you could easily end up with a machine that doesn't last as long as it should.
Washing machine maintenance doesn't take long, it isn't technical and it could give your machine a new lease of life.