This Common Laundry Mistake Could Ruin Your Clothes One Day

updated May 3, 2019
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A photo of a washing machine with clothes inside, a circular laundry hamper, and a chair with clothes hang on it
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Even if you know all about sorting lights and darks, how to wash and dry different fabric types, and you remember to use the mysterious but very useful permanent press setting, there’s still an easily overlooked laundry mistake that could ruin your clothes and, in rare instances, your washer.

Here’s the quick task you need to add to your laundry routine:

Make sure your zippers are zipped before you do laundry.

That goes for zippers on jeans, hoodies, dresses, or anything else, really. If your zippers aren’t zipped up, their teeth and sharp corners can easily snag and tear more delicate items in mixed loads of laundry. (Come to think of it, I wonder if that’s what’s caused some of the small holes I’ve seen in our clothes sometimes.)

If you generate a lot of laundry in your house, you could get away with washing a denim-only load to avoid checking zippers (denim is a pretty hardy fabric). But you should know that unzipped zippers can also leave visible scratches on the inside of a front-loader washing machine door.

As with many things, you’re better off safe than sorry. Implement a zipper rule at home and know your laundry and laundry machines are safe from damage.

(Image credit: Katarina Radovic/Stocksy)

3 Other Things to Check Before You Do Laundry


If you don’t already check your pants pockets before throwing them into the machine, start now. You can leave yourself a note by writing directly on your machine’s metal surfaces with dry erase marker until it becomes a habit.

Unhooked bras

Unhooked bras can also cause snags in clothing, and the back straps tend to wrap around other items in the wash. If you haven’t already, invest in lingerie bags for your bras. Your bras will also last longer when protected in the wash.

Shirt buttons

When it comes to buttons, the opposite of the zipper rule is true: Buttons should be undone so as not to stress the threads, which can lead to buttons falling off.

Though these might seem like nit-picky details, getting into these habits will eventually save time and money. And, if it helps, you can gloat in the fact that you’re doing your laundry the way it’s really, really supposed to be done, down to every zipper, hook closure, and button.