8 Things You Always Do Wrong with Laundry, According to Dry Cleaning Experts

published Jan 19, 2023
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Open door  of dryer with blue bed sheets inside close up
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For most people, doing the laundry is a common part of a home routine. Piles accumulate, you throw them in the washer and dryer, then fold, put them away, and repeat. Muscle memory can definitely come in handy when it comes to tackling this time-consuming chore. The problem? You could be sacrificing effectiveness for the sake of efficiency. 

Making a couple of simple changes to how you wash and dry your clothes has the potential to majorly impact how your clothes feel and look — and even how long they last. Before you spend time in the laundry room next, be aware of these eight common-but-harmful washing and drying mistakes (and more importantly, how to fix them), as shared by dry cleaning experts.

Over-drying clothes

Once the washer cycle is done, most people move their items to the dryer, then wait for the buzz or beep. Turns out, that’s a mistake. Drying your clothes for a full dry cycle can ruin the natural fibers in the fabric, says Wayne Edelman, owner of Meurice Garment Care. Instead, Edelman recommends drying pieces 80 percent, then hanging them until they’re fully dry. 

Drying certain clothing items

Always air dry delicate items like lingerie, Edelman suggests, to avoid stressing the fabric. Activewear, too, should never go in the dryer. “The high temperature will weaken the fiber strands in your garments, resulting in your stretchy fabrics losing elasticity and shape,” says Rechelle Balanzat, founder and CEO of Juliette Cleaners

Not using lingerie bags

Speaking of lingerie: Bras, underwear, lingerie, and other delicates need an extra layer of protection for their structures to stay intact for years to come. That’s why Edelman always recommends using a lingerie bag like this one when you’re washing delicates. 

Not separating heavy and lightweight garments 

Another common mistake, Edelman says, is not separating your heavier clothes from lightweight ones when you do laundry. “These pieces require a different amount of attention in the washing machine and dryer, so it is important to put heavier pieces together in a heavy-duty setting,” he says. If you keep them together in the machine, bigger and heavier garments could ruin your small delicate pieces.

Choosing the wrong water temperature

If you haven’t thought twice about the washer temperature, now’s the time to start. Too much hot water exposure can cause colors to fade over time and even cause fabric to shrink, which is why it’s so important to read your garments’ care labels. “If you are not sure what temperature to choose, colder is better,” says Balanzat. 

Leaving shirts buttoned

Who knew leaving shirts buttoned in the wash could damage the buttons and buttonholes? “This premature wear and tear can be avoided by adding the extra step of unbuttoning your clothes before washing them,” says Balanzat. While you’re at it, unbutton your pants, too!

Not sorting according to color

Chances are, you know to separate your laundry by color. But how often do you actually adhere to that routine? When you don’t separate clothes properly according to color, it’s easy for the dye to transfer and mix with other garments — potentially turning your lights and grays darker than you’d like. Before washing your next load of laundry, Balanzat suggests sorting your clothes into light, medium, and dark piles, then washing accordingly. 

Forgetting to check the label 

Lastly, Balanzat says it’s far too common for people to throw their items in the laundry without checking the label for “dry clean only.” While at-home washing machine technology has advanced over the years to protect clothes from damage, certain garments — like suede, silk, and leather — need a little more attention. When in doubt, head to the dry cleaner with items you want to protect for years to come.