As much as I am loathe to hang out, fold and put away washing, I am eternally grateful for the wonderful invention of the washing machine. Without it, we might still be relegated to that old scrubbing board and wash tub. Imagine the state of our hands! Imagine the pain in our backs!
But these machines can be much abused and maligned, especially when for mysterious reasons they don’t quite wash everything properly. I am a frequent washing machine over-filler, I admit it. Sometimes I hear my machine rattling and banging in ways it should not, mostly because I had to squeeze in another towel and a pair of jeans.
Here are some clever ways to deal with washing problems, stain disasters, or easy ways to freshen your machine and keep it functioning.
Clean your machine
- If you’re getting that awful musty smell from your machine and it’s coming through in your washed clothes, run the machine on a full cycle with a ½ cup of mouth wash.
- Similarly you can run a full cycle without clothes and add 2 cups of white vinegar or 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and it should freshen your machine.
- Clean out the powder/liquid from the dispenser points – those little caked bits of powder in the corners and weird sticky bits of washing liquid aren’t actually good for your clothes
- Leave the dispenser drawers open – let them drip and air out at the end of a wash to prevent musty smells.
Bright colours and super whites
- With dark colours or bright colours, add 1 cup of salt to the wash. This sets the colours firmly and stops running or fading.
- If cleaning whites, add 1 cup of white vinegar for brighter whites.
- A ½ cup of bicarb added to a wash will also result in much brighter, cleaner whites and is far gentler than bleach.
- For dark coloured jeans that are starting to fade, add a cup of brewed coffee or black tea during the rinse cycle.
Cleaner than clean
- Tea towels and dish cleaning cloths can get pretty gross and smelly, and they actually should be washed separately from your nicer clothes. Add a tablespoon of Dettol to the rinse cycle or a ¼ cup of cider vinegar or some tea tree oil.
- Use a combination of bicarb and white vinegar to pre-soak stains before washing.
- A half cup of white vinegar will also soften fabrics. Add to the rinse cycle.
- If you have yellow sweat stains on white clothing, rub them with white vinegar before washing in a regular white wash in the machine.
- You can save money and the environment by using ½ the amount of washing liquid and adding equal amounts of bicarb and white vinegar to the fabric softener drawer. 2 tablespoons each for a front loader, or a ½ cup each for a top loader.
- In winter it can be hard to air dry clothing and long sitting bedding, summer clothing and other Manchester and through the damp period they can get musty. When mashing these items you can add a couple of drops of citrus essential oil, lavender oil, rose oil or peppermint oil for extra fresh smelling washing that will also stay fresh through the winter.
Making the machine your friend
- Use mesh lingerie bags to wash socks. Have one bag for each family member to put their dirty socks in; this way pairs stay together, there is less sock sorting and nothing goes missing.
- Also soft toys get a gentler less stretching wash when placed in lingerie bags.
- Don’t overload your machine – when over full dirt gets trapped amongst the press of clothing and the water and detergent can’t reach everything they need to wash. Also, everything comes out super wrinkly from the weight and pressure of all the clothes. It also forces your machine to work harder than it needs to, which can speed up its eventual demise.
- Don’t use too much detergent – sometimes we add that half cap more because we want things to be extra clean. But this can actually lead to faster break down of fabrics. Follow those pack instructions!
- Choose the right setting for the right type of load – my mum used to use the wool wash for everything. But there is a reason there are so many settings on modern machines. Each uses a different amount of force and speed and different amounts of water.
- Don’t leave washed clothes in the machine too long – a few hours ok, overnight at worst. But all that damp clothing starts to smell. If this happens, you may have to rewash the clothes. In this case, add a ½ cup of white vinegar
Bonus: Tissue Disaster Hack
You know when you leave a couple tissues in a pocket and when that item of clothing is washed, every piece of clothing ends up covered in a dusting of sticky white flecks? Put the whole load in the dryer (unless the items are synthetic and should not be put through the dryer). All the tissue bits will go into the lint filter and are easily cleaned out. Shake clothing as you remove it from the machine to get rid of any missed bits. If it’s still spotted white, put the item through the dryer for another 15 minutes or so.