13 Laundry Tips on How to Wash Clothes

The dirty laundry basket never seems to be empty. You wash, you dry, you iron or fold and then you do it all over again. But are you washing your clothes the right way? Here are 13 laundry tips you might not know and the best way to wash clothes.

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shutterstock_150550232 aluminum foil
Sergiy Kuzmin/Shutterstock

Use Aluminum Foil

If you’re out of dryer sheets, throw a ball of aluminum foil in your dyer. The aluminum will fight static buildup and help keep your clothing separated.

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Freeze Your Jeans

Here’s a strange, but handy hint for the laundry: If you like to wear your jeans more than once between washings, stick them in the freezer between wears. The frigid air will kill bacteria that can cause odor.

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shutterstock_550590028 laundry tips washing machine

Check the Temperature

Use cold water for dark colors that tend to bleed and for delicate fabrics that are prone to shrinking. Cold water is also an eco-friendly choice that will save you money on your energy bill. Warm water is best for man-made fibers and jeans. Use hot water for whites, cloth diapers, bedding and towels.

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Unshrink Clothes

Did your favorite T-shirt shrink? Soak the shrunken clothing item in lukewarm water with a splash of baby shampoo. This will allow the fibers to relax, allowing you to stretch it back out.

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shutterstock_306280355 laundry detergent

Use Less Detergent

Using too much detergent can cause your clothes to remain dirty since too much detergent causes an abundance of suds that can trap soil on your clothing. Instead, try using half the recommended amount of detergent and adjust from there. Or, if you’re someone who likes using eco-friendly products, you can also give laundry detergent sheets a try.

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Use a Salad Spinner

If you have some articles of clothing you don’t want to put in the dryer, use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Then hang them on a rack to dry.

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Choose Detergents Wisely

There are several recipes online for making your own laundry detergent which can save you money. Store-bought detergents should be chosen carefully. If you have kids and need to fight tough stains, choose a detergent with a strong cleaning and stain-fighting ingredient such as OxiClean or bleach. For those with sensitive skin or sensitivities to fragrance, look for a formula that’s unscented and free of dyes. Although, laundry bluing, AKA using blue dye can help brighten your whites to look brand new.

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shutterstock_95680816 laundry wash bright colors

Wash Bright Colors With Salt

You can use salt to prevent colors from fading. Just toss a teaspoon of salt in with your dark clothes to help make the color last longer. Washing colored clothing inside out can also help maintain color.

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Sweaters Should Skip the Dryer

Skip the dryer when laundering winter sweaters. Instead, drying them flat will help them maintain their shape.

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Lars Hallstrom/Shutterstock

Save Drying Time

One advantage of dryer balls is that they can slash drying time, reducing your energy usage and the electric bill. But If you don’t have any dryer balls handy, throw a dry towel in with the load. The towel will help absorb some of the moisture and help your clothes dry quicker.

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shutterstock_529871035 reduce wrinkles clothes iron
Fabrika Simf/Shutterstock

Reduce Wrinkles

To reduce wrinkles and the need to iron, use a dryer sheet and set your dyer to the lowest setting possible. As soon as the clothes are dry, remove them from the dryer and fold or hang to keep them crisp.

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shutterstock_371625925 shopping for washer and dryer laundry

Top-Loading or Front-Loading?

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, the options can be overwhelming. Top-loading machines with an agitator often cost less and have a faster run-time than top-loading machines without an agitator (known as a high-efficiency machine). High-efficiency machines are better at cleaning and use less water than agitator models.

Front-loading machines are more expensive, but do a better job at cleaning than top-loading and are gentler on clothing. However, front-loaders can take longer to complete a cycle than top-loaders.

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shutterstock_153411761 laundry clean your machine
Csaba Vanyi/Shutterstock

Clean Your Machine

Your washing machine does need to be cleaned regularly. Every couple months, set your washer to the largest load setting and hottest water temperature. Add a quart of white vinegar and a cup of baking soda and let the washer agitate for a minute. Then open the lid or pause the cycle and let the mixture sit for an hour. Scrub any parts, such as the lid, with a toothbrush to remove buildup. After an hour, let the cycle complete and run a second cycle on hot to remove any residue left behind. Your clothes will thank you.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.