Getting better laundry results

Even if you've been doing laundry for years, sometimes the results are less than perfect. These tips may help you up your game.

Selecting the right temperature is the key to success. Cold water works well for delicates, items that might shrink, or darker colours that tend to bleed. It’s also cheaper. Warm water is best for soiled clothing and synthetic fabrics (nylon, polyester, etc), while hot water should be reserved for bedding, towels, cotton whites, and oil or grease stains.

Powdered detergents work well for general loads and are less expensive than liquid detergent. If washing in cold water, pre-dissolve your powdered detergent in warm water. Pods, packs, and tablets are convenient and easy to use but it’s a good idea to check the price-per-load if you're on a budget.

Separate your whites from non-colourfast or stained items to prevent running. To test if something is colourfast, run a wet cotton swab on it. If the swab colours, hand wash the item separately or have it dry-cleaned.

Turning dark-coloured clothes and jeans inside out before washing prevents fading.

Bras and other delicates hold their shape and last longer if washed in a mesh lingerie bag on a cold, delicate cycle.

The key to successful stain removal is to act quickly. Immediately soak the garment in cold water, apply your stain remover, then get it into the wash. If the mark remains, don’t put the garment in the dryer. Re-apply a stain remover then wash it again.

Who has time to iron? Use a fabric softener and the lowest dryer setting to help reduce wrinkles. Always remove clothing from the dryer immediately and fold or hang.

Check your pockets for coins, keys and tissues. Having them bounce around in the wash is bad for the machine.

A mouldy machine will make your clothes smell bad. Wipe away mould deposits using hot soapy water and a soft cloth. To eliminate scrud (detergent built up) run an empty cycle with hot water and detergent and let it soak overnight.

Double check your machine when unloading. Damp laundry can start to stink quickly.

To avoid an off-balance washing machine, load it evenly, alternating between small and large items. Wash bed sheets and towels with smaller items. Don't overload the machine, and don't wrap clothes around the agitator. Business shirts have a tendency to tangle.

Avoid lint by washing towels and fleecy items separately to everything else.

If you want super fluffy towels, add an extra rinse with half a cup of vinegar added to the fabric softener dispenser. Hang them out to dry then take them off the line while they’re still a little damp and finish in the dryer.

Grant J Everett, Panorama magazine