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How to Use a Washing Machine for the Best Results

Whether you own a twin tub or a fully automatic machine, follow our ultimate guide to using your washing machine for the very best results!

Updated

White washing machine

Let’s face it, the days of manual, tedious, hand-scrubbing labada are long gone. Thanks to the rise of convenient and affordable washing machines, we no longer need to do a full-body workout just for a clean set of clothes. But this powerful appliance is only as good as its user.

Washing clothes by hand can be time consuming, so it’s unsurprising that the modern washing machine has become so popular. But we risk damage to both the clothes and the washing machine itself if we don’t know how to use a washer and the washing machine settings correctly. From how to do laundry in the washing machine for the first time to fabric advice, here are the essential washing machine tips you need to know.

A good quality laundry detergent like will help you achieve effective results when using your washing machine. Use the recommended amount of detergent to ensure your clothes end up clean and fresh. Make sure to read the directions on the label before you begin.

How to Use Washing Machines: Understanding Symbols

Checking all the washing machine symbols on garments before loading them into the machine is the simplest way to protect your clothes from damage. Washing machine symbols indicate at what temperature you should be washing different fabrics. They can also recommend a particular cycle, and even a type of detergent! Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Number: When wash symbols on a label feature a number, you should pay attention to it. The number relates to the temperature of the wash. Some natural fabrics like silks and wool can shrink in hot washes, whereas hard-wearing cottons are best washed in higher temperatures to ensure they’re completely clean. Heavy-duty cottons such as bedding and towels may feature a wash symbol of 95 degrees, which is a near-boil wash. Truthfully, many people choose to use a standard 40-degree wash instead for environmental purposes. Delicates often need a much lower number, usually 30 degrees.

  • The Line: Underneath the number, your wash symbols may feature a horizontal line or a broken horizontal line. These lines relate to the garment’s fabric and the sort of cycle that is needed for that particular material. A complete line indicates synthetic fabrics that need a moderate cycle. A broken line indicates a woolen fabric requiring a gentle cycle in order to protect the fibers.

  • If you’d like to include bleach (or a washing detergent that contains a bleaching agent) when using the washing machine, always check the care symbols before washing your clothes. Always be careful when using bleach, as it can damage some materials. Wear gloves and ensure the room is well-ventilated. A triangle symbol with a cross through it means ‘do not bleach’, so choose a gentle and mild detergent instead.

Different Washing Machines & Their Settings

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If you’re making the switch from handwashing to using an appliance, you probably went for either the twin tub or a semi automatic machine. These are much more energy efficient and less expensive, though they can make doing the laundry a little more time consuming than fully-automatic machines.

Regardless of whether you own a twin tub or an automatic, to make the most of using the washing machine, you really need to get the hang of its settings and cycles, in order to discover how they can benefit you and your family. For example, a regular spin cycle can be too severe for some delicate garments. Washing delicates with a moderate or gentle cycle is the best option. Less movement during the spin cycle will reduce the risk of fabric snagging. Gentle cycles are also particularly good for embroidered garments that can unravel in a ‘normal’ wash.

When drying your clothes, be aware that certain fabrics should not be dried in a dryer – wool and other natural fibers can shrink with heat. Also, avoid drying clothes that aren’t completely clean, as heat can set ground-in stains, making them more difficult to wash out.

Person putting laundry in the washing machine

Washing Machine Do’s and Don’ts

To ensure you’re getting the best from your washing machine, follow these simple rules:

  • Do group items made from similar materials if possible. Similar garments will often require a similar detergent, temperature, and setting/s.

  • Do wash garments based on color. After many washes, colored fabrics are unlikely to run. However, new garments, especially dark colors with high levels of dye, can easily ruin whites and other light-colored clothing.

  • Don’t be tempted to overload when using the washing machine, even if you have a lot of clothes to wash. Overloading can cause the cycle to fail at the spin cycle, leaving you with wet clothes.

  • Don’t think that adding more detergent than necessary will get your clothes extra clean. Always stick to the amount recommended on your detergent’s label. Make sure you’re using a high-performance detergent.

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Washing Machine Tips: Pre-Treating Clothes

Washing machines are useful and effective, but they can’t always work miracles – sometimes we need to give them a little helping hand. If you have heavily soiled clothing, a pre-treatment before the wash is likely to be the most successful strategy. The longer you leave dirty clothes, the more difficult a stain will be to remove. Even state-of-the-art machines will have trouble dealing with stains that are set.

  • A gentle cycle is best for delicate and embroidered garments.

  • Use the recommended amount of detergent for the type of load.

  • Sort your laundry before washing so you can group together items that need similar wash settings.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on how to use a washing machine

What does twin tub washing machine mean?

A twin tub washing machine is one where you have two tubs that sit next to one another. The first is for washing. The second is for drying. The twin tub set up requires you to move your laundry from one to the other in order during the washing procedure.

Is a micromatic washing machine different from other washing machines?

Yes, a micromatic washing machine is different to most other machines. Whilst most machines are freestanding or fitted to your kitchen, a micromatic washing machine is a smaller, portable machine making it an ideal candidate for those who require a little more maneuverability.

How do you use a laundry machine?

The steps for how to use a laundry machine are simple. Once you have separated your garments into colours, check the care labels to ensure you wash and dry them on the correct cycle. Now you simply need to follow our guide and get ready to wash and dry your clothing - ensuring you remember our important dos and don’ts. If you are using a coin operated laundry machine, you need to place your laundry and detergent in the machine then use the controls on the front and set your cycle. Add the coins to the slot as per the information provided and let the machine do its job.

Originally published