Whether you’re wondering if you can wash your trainers in the machine or you just can’t get the washing powder out of your clothes, we’ve got the answer.
Use the links below to find out the answers to a wide range of laundry questions.
Here are some guidelines for how often you should wash the different items in your wardrobe.
Don’t leave your clothes in the washer for longer than eight to 12 hours. Any more than that and clothes will begin to smell and mould will grow.
If the washing smells anything less than fresh, rerun the wash cycle as the aroma won’t just go away once it dries.
Leaving clothes in the washer can also result in mould and mildew growing in the machine drum. If this happens, the drum will start to smell and so will any clothes you wash.
Follow these simple steps to make sure your clothes smell good after washing:
Hard water, too much detergent and frequent washing can all contribute to ‘stiff’ clothing. Follow these simple steps to achieve soft and fluffy laundry:
Shrinking cotton is really simple; just wash the item in the longest cycle at the hottest temperature, followed by a spin in the tumble dryer on the highest heat setting. Do check the garment throughout the spin though; you don’t want to over-shrink it.
Wool is more sensitive and will shrink quicker. You can still put it on a hot wash but then dry it on a medium heat.
Check the care label – some clothes, mostly jeans, are made using an anti-shrink treatment, typically called ‘sanforised’ so you’ll just be wasting your time, water and energy.
Before you start dying your favourite dress, you’ll need to check what fabric it is. Clothes that are made of natural fibres, such as cotton, are the easiest to dye, while certain dyes will only work with specific materials.
Once you’ve found the correct product, wash the items you’re dying to remove any stains or dirt residue that could affect coverage and then follow these steps:
Always follow the instructions on the dye packet to avoid damaging your machine and/or losing your warranty. If you’re concerned your warranty might be void check with your manufacturer before using.
Check for stains when the clothes are still wet – once the powder has dried on it will be harder to remove. If it’s still wet, put the stained item in a bowl with a solution of one cup of vinegar to four cups of water and soak for a few hours. Then rewash using a warm water cycle and running a repeat rinse.
Stains from detergent normally occur when the machine doesn’t sufficiently rinse the load. We measure how much detergent is left after a wash when we review . See our top picks of the for those that are great at rinsing.
Other ways to avoid staining your clothes with washing powder include:
Find out how to wash baby clothes, pillows, underwear, jeans, trainers, Uggs and more.
You should never wash brand-new brightly coloured clothes with whites or light-coloured items. The darker dye is likely to bleed onto the lighter garments during the first one or two washes, especially if it’s on a hot cycle.
After a few washes the risk of the dye running isn’t as high, but if you like to have whiter-than-white clothes you should probably still avoid mixing colours. Even small amounts of colour transfer can dull light garments.
If you really have to mix your whites, lights and colours, always opt for a low temperature (30°C). This should limit the risk of dye transfer, as should ‘colour catcher’ products that you can buy in most supermarkets.
Hand wash striped tops in cold water the first time and then wash on a low temperature with similar colours.
You'll see lots of tips online on how adding aspirin to your washing machine will help dissolve and get rid of lint and small bits of tissue. But this also means releasing it into the water system, which could be harmful to the environment.
Instead get as much as you can off yourself with a good shake and a lint roller (or sellotape wrapped around your hand).
If that doesn't get rid of it all, you can give the aspirin method a go, but not in the washing machine. Instead, dissolve four tablets in a bucket of water and soak the clothes for an hour or two. When we tried it, the aspirin did help to break down the tissue. To be safe, dispose of the aspirin water in your garden - well away from any drains.
Then you can put the clothes on a quick rinse cycle and dry as normal.
It’s also important to regularly empty the lint filter on the tumble dryer too.
Most modern washing machines have a ‘hand-wash’ or a ‘delicate’ cycle that can be used to wash clothes that are more suited to hand washing. These cycles should replicate a gentle wash – soaking in cold water and light tumbling. Placing the garment in a net bag will also help to minimise any damage.
However, it depends on the garment and its care instructions. When the care label clearly states ‘hand wash only’ or ‘dry clean only’ it will be a risk to use the washing machine. Agitation and friction against other items and the drum can damage flimsy items.
Clothes manufacturers generally state the optimal cleaning, so do use your laundry senses. For example, avoid machine washing materials such as silk and cashmere or heavily embellished clothes but wool should be suitable for a hand-wash cycle.
It’s best to wash cotton on a cold cycle, with minimum agitation and loaded with similar coloured items.
Although versatile, cotton does have a tendency to shrink so avoid extremely hot temperatures during washing and drying. Using a cold water cycle will also stop the dyes fading or bleeding on to other clothes.
Don’t overload the machine either. More items, means more friction – and more friction means more damage to the fibres.
Keep your jeans looking great for longer by following these tips:
Some delicate items made from wool, silk and linen should only be washed by hand. But if that’s not possible, follow these simple tips for machine washing delicate clothing:
Some suggest avoiding machine washing white trainers as it can shorten their lifespan, so if you can get away with it try soaking the shoes in soapy water and rubbing the dirt off with an old toothbrush.
Both Nike and Converse clearly state that their trainers should not be washed in the machine or dried in a tumble dryer. Instead you should use a soft cloth or soft-bristled brush that’s been soaked in lukewarm water and mild soap (that’s been tested on the shoes) to clean away any scuffs and stains. Then leave them to air dry.
It depends on the material. Textile shoes made of canvas, cotton, nylon and polyester can be put through the washing machine. But leather, suede, silk and embellished fabrics should be kept well away. Water can damage the material so it’s better to use specialist cleaning products to tidy these up.
Always check the care label on your shoes to find out the best way of cleaning.
It’s also important to note that regardless of the fabric, using the washing machine to clean up your footwear will shorten its lifespan. The heat, water and detergent can sometimes affect the materials and bonding.
No, Ugg clearly states that your Ugg boots should never be machine washed or taken to the dry cleaners. Instead, follow the official instructions on the Ugg website.
If you have sweaty workout wear, it's important to let it breathe before throwing it into the washing basket.
This will allow the sweat to evaporate, prevent the bacteria that causes clothes to smell to grow.
Detergent and fabric softener can also build up over washes, making it easier for bacteria to grow. Consider using less detergent (half as much as you would for a cotton wash) and no fabric softener when washing synthetics.
Most washing machines have a synthetics program. This can sometimes be called easy care or mixed. This is a shorter wash, at a lower temperature, with less spinning to take care of your clothes.
High heat can ruin the stretch of elastic clothes, so you need to wash and dry it carefully.
Don't use a tumble dryer or radiator; hang clothes up to dry.
If you want to iron your sportswear, we’d advise choosing a low heat setting and avoid any stretchy parts.
Depending on what your yoga mat or towel is made from, it might be able to go in the washing machine.
Many yoga towels, designed to be used during hot yoga, are made from microfibres and can go in the washing machine on a cold wash.
For hard, rubber-like yoga mats, you will need to wipe them down with a disinfectant to clean them and stop smells developing. Avoid using any abrasive chemicals or scrubs, as this could damage the rubber or plastic of the mat and cause it to peel away over time.
No – no matter how smelly, dirty or gross your boxing gloves get do not put them in the washing machine or tumble dryer. The heat and water will ruin the leather on the gloves. While the saturation causes mould and mildew to grow during the long drying time.
Prevent smells by wiping down the gloves with a cloth after every use and spraying disinfectant (made for sportswear). Leave the straps open so air can circulate – don’t leave them in a bag between uses.
Over time towels can become crispy and scratchy. To make your towels soft and fluffy again, first hand wash them with 125ml white vinegar.
Then rinse off the vinegar and machine wash at 40° rather than 60°, and make sure the load is no more than three quarters full to ensure room for the towels to move around.
We'd also recommend avoiding fabric softener and using less detergent. After washing you can line dry your towels or pop them in your tumble dryer.
Watch our video below to see these steps in action:
As long as the care label says you can, then yes. Most cotton and down pillows can be machine washed but it’s always worth taking two minutes to check what the manufacturer recommends.
When you’re ready, take the pillows out of the case and place into the washing machine. Try washing two at a time to balance the load. Then add the detergent and set to the recommended cycle. If there isn’t a care label then go for a warm gentle programme, with an extra rinse to make sure all the detergent is removed.
Either air dry or tumble on a low heat (again, depending on the care instructions). Try not to leave the pillows in a room where it will take too long to dry – this could cause a build-up of mildew.
Note: Do not machine-wash foam pillows. Vacuum the dust off instead, and spot wash any stains or grime.
It's a good idea to clean your duvets once or twice each year, especially if you have allergies to dust mites and other common household allergens.
Many washing machines have a dedicated program for washing duvets. This is a gentle program that washes at a lower temperature with more water than usual.
If your washing machine doesn't have a duvet program, you can choose a delicate wash or a lower temperature.
Ideally, you should wash your duvet and pillow cases and fitted sheets once a week.
In reality, it may be longer than this, but it's important to frequently wash your bedding as dirt and sweat builds up. This can not only flair up skin conditions, but also create a environment where dust mites can grow, leading to more allergens.
First things first, check to see if there is any washing label on the mattress topper.
Some microfibre and down/feather toppers can be washed just like you would wash a duvet, but you'll want to be careful about making sure weight is evenly distributed around the drum.
To help with this, you can add a towel or two into the load with it. Alternatively, you can simply go to a laundromat.
Many foam mattress toppers will have a outer fabric layer that you can zip off and wash separately. Don't put the foam in your washing machine; just wipe it down with a gentle detergent.
Just like with mattress toppers, check for a washing label.
If you can't find one, we'd recommend that you wash it inside out on a cold wash or at 20°C and with a gentle detergent.
Using a tumble dryer on a low heat should be okay, too, but you'll want to check back regularly to make sure it doesn't get too hot. So it might simply be safer and easier to hang it up and patiently wait for it to dry.
As with all clothes, check the care label before washing. This will tell you the dos and don’ts for that material.
Next, wash off any heavy soiling before putting it in the machine. You don’t want germs swirling around with other pieces of clothing.
Choose a sensitive, mild detergent and fabric softener suitable for baby skin – preferably non-biological – and set the wash cycle on a temperate of 30 or 40°C. The cycle you pick will depend on the materials you’re washing.
Once the wash has finished you might also want to select a double rinse to make sure all the detergent is removed.
Try to clean the baby’s clothes separately from your own if you’re using different detergent.
Yes. Clothes can pick up dust, dirt and germs in the warehouse, shop and in your home, all of which can irritate your baby’s super-sensitive skin. Wash all items with a mild detergent and dry fully before using. You should continue to wash new clothing before letting your baby wear them, even as they get older.
Washing re-usable nappies can seem like a minefield but it’s actually very simple – just follow these five easy steps:
Nikwax is a cleaning and waterproofing treatment that is used to prolong and improve the performance of outdoor clothing, footwear and equipment.
Simply add around 100-150ml of Nikwax into your detergent tray and wash according to the care label of your garment.
Always clean out the detergent tray prior to washing to remove all detergent build-up. This is important because normal detergent can include chemicals that will corrode the water resistance of your clothing.
Not only can you, but you should! Shower curtains can quickly become unhygienic and even grow mould, so you should wash it regularly.
Before putting it in the washing machine, see if you can get most of the soap grime off by hand.
Then you can throw it in a washing machine for a low temperature cycle with a gentle detergent and no fabric conditioner.
Nobody tests washing machines as thoroughly as we do at Which?. Every year we wash more than 1,750kg of laundry, so you can be sure that the that we recommend will leave your clothes brilliantly clean.