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Common Myths About Laundry That Are Ruining Your Clothes

Your clothes and appliances will thank you!

By Madeline Wahl

Laundry myths

Doing laundry is always a learning experience. Should you wash your clothes in warm water? Do all-purpose cleaners work for all stains? Read on to hear from laundry experts on what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing to your clothes. 

More detergent results in cleaner clothes.

One common misconception is that using more detergent results in cleaner clothes. The truth, though, may be a little different. “More detergent does not make it work harder. Instead, it may leave residue on your garments,” Brian Sansoni, Senior Vice President, Communications, Outreach, and Membership, American Cleaning Institute, tells Reader’s Digest. “You’ll probably just need to wash them again, and these multiple washings can cause them to wear out faster over time.” Check the detergent label to see how much detergent to use for your load size and machine, especially since many detergents are concentrated these days.”

The hotter the water, the better the cleaning power

Surely, the temperature of the water would have a profound effect. However, hot water may not have as much of an impact as you might think. “Hot water won’t necessarily get clothes cleaner. In fact, it can damage some fabrics or cause some stains to become permanent instead of being removed,” Sansoni says. “This is the case of a myth that may have been true in the past but detergents these days have been designed to work just as well, if not better, in cold water. Always follow the fabric care label.”

The more dryer sheets you have, the better.

Too much of a good thing may, well, be a bad thing at times. “There is such a thing as too many dryer sheets,” LG Electronics’ Laura Johnson, Research and Development, told Reader’s Digest. “Overuse of dryer sheets can diminish machine efficiency by producing a sweet-smelling residue and clogging your lint screen.”

You may disregard the fabric care label.

Always read the instructions—including the fabric care label—as with anything else. “There are moments when it’s tempting to just put everything in the laundry and call it a day,” Sansoni explains. “However, every piece of commercial apparel has a tag with the manufacturer’s care recommendations designed to keep the item looking its best.

All stains are created equal

If you think you can use the same laundry detergent for coffee stains as baby formula, you might need to rethink that plan. “The stain’s type actually determines how you can remove it,” the laundry experts at Carbona tell Reader’s Digest. They take stain removal seriously. In fact, Carbona has a collection of nine different stain removers called Stain Devils that are specially formulated to remove tough stains each and every time.

Using hairspray to remove cloth stains

“This is untrue of course,” Robert Johnson, founder of Sawinery, tells Reader’s Digest, “as hairspray worsens stains, especially the ink ones by spreading it out more. Instead, blot some water to the stain and to make it more effective, use a versatile stain remover powder.”

Filling the machine saves both water and energy.

What exactly is a full machine? Melanie Musson, an insurance specialist with, says Reader’s Digest, “Your notion of a full machine may differ from the manufacturer’s concept.” “Washing machines are designed to perform best at two-thirds capacity. If you overfill the machine, the detergent will not be able to spread around and clean all of the clothing, and you will have to wash them again, wasting neither water nor energy.”

Visible stains are the only types of dirt you need to worry about on clothes

You might think that a shirt is dirty when you see a stain, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye. “Your clothes might be dirtier than you think. In fact, only 30 percent of the soils in your laundry are visible—things like food, dirt and grass stains,” Jennifer Ahoni, Tide Senior Scientist, tells Reader’s Digest. “The other 70 percent include invisible soils made up of body soils like sweat and body oils, which if not removed by a deep cleaning laundry detergent will build up over time and cause odors, dinginess and dullness. Deep clean provides removal of both visible and invisible dirt.” Looking for cleaning products to use around your home? 

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