How to Wash Clothes With a Washing Machine

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A washing machine is an invaluable tool when it comes to the best way to do laundry. However, many machines have a myriad of options, which can make the whole process confusing. When you combine this with the choices to be made on detergent types, washing cycles and any extra steps, doing laundry suddenly doesn't feel so simple after all.

How to Wash Clothes With a Washing Machine
Image Credit: Ariel Skelley/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Before You Wash Clothes

Before you even begin to wash clothes, there are some initial steps to take. You'll need to separate your laundry into whites, darks and brights. This is to prevent color transfer. One load of laundry should fill up the machine about three-fourths of the way. Any more and the clothes won't wash properly, plus you risk damaging the machine.

You should also check the labels of the items you're washing. You need to check if the items are machine washable and if they are, what temperature they should be washed at.

Detergent Types

Selecting the right type of detergent for your laundry will allow you to achieve the best results. There are two major decisions to be made: the formula of the detergent and the form it takes.

The formula of the detergent should be suited to the type of laundry you're doing. A load of heavily soiled jeans, for example, can take a stronger, biological detergent. A lightly worn, more delicate load will be better suited to nonbiological detergent.

Detergents are available in powders, gels, liquids and pods. Generally speaking, the type you choose can come down to personal preference. Powders are cheaper but can leave an ashy residue. Gels and liquids are midrange but can get messy. Pods are the priciest per wash but by far the most convenient.

Wash Cycles

As with detergent, you need to choose the right cycle for your laundry loads. Many machines come with preprogrammed cycles for cottons, colors, delicates and more. If you'd rather have a custom cycle, you can choose the temperature and the speed accordingly. Temperature should be gauged by your clothing labels and speed by how dirty and delicate your items are. Generally speaking, the dirtier and less delicate your laundry is, the faster it can be spun.

Extra Steps

On top of all of this, there are other things to consider when it comes to washing clothes. For example, you may want to use a fabric softener alongside your detergent. If your load is white and heavily stained, you may want to include bleach. For stains on darker items, a specific stain remover may be necessary. Experiment in order to find what combination of products and cycles works best for you.


Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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