7 bad habits to avoid with your washing machine – according to an expert

bad habits with washing machines
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When washing our clothes, most of us are creatures of habit. We generally rely on the same settings and detergents for every wash. And with the cost of energy as high as ever, we’re all the more tempted to cram the drum full as possible for each load.

The trouble is, if you’re guilty of doing this, odds are you’re not getting the best performance from your washing machine. In fact, there are all kinds of bad habits we can develop which can take its toll on laundry day, impacting stain removal or even damaging the machine itself. Here are seven bad habits to steer clear of.

1. Overloading the drum

Whether you want to reduce your energy consumption, or you’re just short on time with a never-ending pile of dirty laundry, it’s very tempting to stuff as much as you can into your washing machine. After all, you want to get the most out of each load. But, if you do this, you’re likely exceeding the capacity of your machine which can lead to a number of problems.

First, your washing machine is unlikely to be able to spin with such a heavy load. It will likely stop mid-cycle and leave you with a sopping wet pile of laundry. As well as that, overloading your washing machine will also wear the internal components over time, so you’re not helping it last longer.

Aim to fill your washing machine drum about ¾ full for best use. Try to aim to leave a little space so there’s room for clothes to move and agitate as they tumble. This added space will help better distribute the detergent too, so it’s the best way to go for your clothes and your washing machine.

bad habits with washing machines
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2. Using one type of detergent

While you might have a favourite laundry detergent, maybe because of its price, performance or scent, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. There’s several types of detergent available for a reason; each one suits different circumstances and will provide a superior wash performance in these cases.

For instance, biological powder detergent generally provides the strongest stain removal because it contains enzymes and it can help brighten whites too, but it might cause reactions for sensitive skin. Non-bio detergent can be better for those who suffer from allergies, although this more often comes down to scent so opt for scent-free options. Colour detergent is designed specifically to stop bright clothes dulling.

While detergent for delicates, such as Ecover Delicates Laundry Liquid, will be less abrasive on fragile materials, without risk of damaging them. The main takeaway is you should have and use more than one type of detergent to take best care of your clothes.

3. Using the eco setting every time

I’m guilty of this one, but it’s a bad habit to be aware of. While the eco setting will save you money in terms of water and energy, at a trade-off for a longer cycle time, you shouldn’t be using it for every wash. The best treatment for your clothes will vary depending on the material type, and the eco setting isn’t always appropriate.

There are lots of settings on your washing machine for a reason; the length, phases and abrasiveness of each cycle is designed to best suit its intended material. For instance, a bedding cycle may be naturally hotter than eco to help remove sweat and stains. While the hand wash setting will reduce the wash time and spin speed to be less aggressive on delicate items.

Above all, follow the care label instructions for each item. If a standard wash cycle is recommended, the eco setting can be appropriate. But, if you’re dealing with heavily stained items, a hotter wash may be necessary.

Relying on the eco cycle can also result in a build-up of soap scum, grease and grime in your machine. If you regularly use it, run a service wash (60 degrees or higher) with an empty machine once a month to rinse it. This is good advice in general to keep your washing machine clean.

bad habits with washing machines
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4. Failing to add a stain remover

While washing machines are useful for shifting stains, they don’t always have the power to remove all traces. We recommend using a proprietary stain remover, like Vanish Oxi Action Stain Remover, where necessary to give your machine a helping hand. These can either be applied to the stains beforehand or sometimes added via the detergent drawer. Although if you’re dealing with a specific tough stain, Dr. Beckmann offers a range of effective removers.

Even if you’re not using a stain remover, pre-soaking items for around 30 minutes with detergent before you wash can have an impact on stains too.

5. Forgetting to clean your washing machine

Most of us forget to clean our washing machines. It’s only when we spot mould or notice our clothes starting to smell that we finally take action. But, your washing machine should really be cleaned once every 3-6 months with a proprietary washing machine cleaner, such as Dr. Beckmann Service It Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner. Otherwise, mould, mildew and soap scum can build up within. You should also clean the detergent drawer, as well as drain the filter, regularly to keep it in full working order.

To prevent mould from forming so quickly in the future, don’t leave washing sitting in the drum for too long once finished. Remember to leave the door and detergent drawer open when not in use so it can vent as well.

Limescale can become a problem too, especially in hard water areas, so descale as often as necessary using a descaler, such as Calgon 4-1 Power Tabs.

bad habits with washing machines
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6. Failing to remove loose change and pet hair

Loose change and small items can easily slip by in the pockets of what we put in the washing machine. Unfortunately, they can do damage to the drum as it rotates, as well as scratch against the glass door. You will hear if you’ve made this mistake by the rattling sound so stop the machine as soon as you can and remove the offending item. If you can’t find it, it may have worked its way into the filter below.

If it’s shedding season, don’t let excess pet hair find its way into your washing machine either. This can quickly collect and lead to drainage issues. Remove prior to washing with a brush, such as Fur Magic Reusable Pet Fur Remover.

7. Letting your washing machine vibrate

If your washing machine is shaking or vibrating harshly as it attempts to build up spin speed, thrashing against your floor in the process, you shouldn’t be ignoring this issue. Your washing machine is losing balance for one reason or another. It could be down to overloading, unlevel feet, remaining transit bolts on installation or washing a single heavy item (bulk up the load with towels if so). Find the reason your washing machine is vibrating and rectify it, otherwise your machine could damage itself and your floor in the process.

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