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The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Washing Machines

A washing machine is a household appliance that’s used to wash laundry – clothing, linens, and sheets. Sound simple enough? But to make sure your clothes are properly cleaned you need to make the most of your machine and select the correct cycle that’ll save energy and water, and prevent any damage to your garments. Follow this guide on washing machines for dummies to find out how to use your automatic washing machine to get the best results…

Tumble Drying Symbol No tumble dryingRead the instruction tags

Most clothes these days are machine washable but some may shrink in a hot wash.  This is why you should always check the labels and learn more about washing machine symbols meaning. Hand wash or dry clean only garments need to be put to one side, as do clothes with other special washing instructions such as those that can’t be bleached. Then you can divide your washing into separate loads for whites, coloureds, and dark, using the appropriate detergents for each load. Remember that dyes in new clothes can lose their colour during a wash and bleed into other clothes, so you need to be extra careful here. Other laundry tips include emptying pockets and doing up zips!

Recognise fabric weight

If you sort out heavier fabrics from lighter ones, you’ll be able to accurately choose the cycle setting and temperature. Heavy fabrics include clothes such as jeans, jumpers, and towels, whilst delicates such as washable silks and lingerie need to be washed separately. If you choose to sort your laundry this way you can save a lot of energy and money by not having to wash multiple loads. If you’ve only got a small load, you can put delicates into mesh wash bags to protect them – then you can put them in with the normal load.

Deal with stains

Some stubborn stains will need special treatment before you wash the garments to ensure they come out clean! Pre-treatment will be especially important on oil and grease stains as washing them without can make the stain set due to the heat.

Washing machine drumChoose the washing cycle

Depending on what you’re washing the wash cycle should match the fabric instructions to maximise cleanliness. Your options are:

- Normal Cycle: a fast cycle and spin that’s most suitable for soiled clothes made from sturdy fabrics such as cotton, linen, and denim - this is the cycle you’ll probably use on a regular basis.

- Permanent Press: a cycle that’s gives fast agitation followed by a slow spin to prevent wrinkles – most suitable for polyesters, rayons, and kinits.

- Delicate Cycle: a slow cycle that reduces agitation and prevents wear and tear – put delicate garments and sequined clothing in this wash.

- Special Cycles: newer washing machine models may have additional features such as sanitising, steaming, and whitening options.

Set the temperature

Choose a water temperature that the fabrics can stand and that fits into your budget! Hot washes can take much longer to complete than a warm or cool selection. Use hot water for towels, bedding, and very dirty items. A warm wash will suit dark colours and moderately dirty items, and a cool wash will suffice for lightly soiled and delicate garments.

Add the detergent

Use the manual to determine which detergent and fabric softeners are suitable for your machine – and where to put them! Front-loading machines will have a compartmented drawer to dispense detergent and softener at the right time, and top-loaders will need you to pour the detergent into the drum before you start, preferably before you put in the clothes.

Load the clothes

Don’t overload the machine as when packed too tightly there’s no room for agitation, and your clothes won’t get a proper clean. Small loads will fill about a third of your machine, whilst large loads will fill about three quarters. Now you’re good to go - close the door and get washing!