Better Machine Cleaning 101 Sponsored by Tide

When to Line Dry

Better Machine Cleaning 101 Sponsored by Tide

01 of 07

Read the Instructions

Read the Instructions

You've spent a ton of time and a chunk of change building your distinctive wardrobe. Keep your clothing looking fabulous, and yourself perfectly put together, with the right care. It all starts in the wash: too much heat, rough treatment or the wrong detergent can cause shrinking, fading or pilling. In a few minutes, your size 8 sundress becomes a ten-year-old size 2 shirt. So inspect those pesky but necessary garment tags carefully for instructions, including wash, dry and iron temps, and follow them throughout the cleaning cycle. Most important is to watch for symbols with an "X" on them, which means don't iron, machine dry, or wash. The one exception is the advice to "dry clean." With modern machines and gentle detergents, many of these items can be washed in a gentle cycle. If the garment says Dry Clean Only, though, we recommend you follow that advice.

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02 of 07

Fill, Don't Stuff

Fill, Don’t Stuff

We've all been there. In a rush, we overfill our washing machine, which can cause a number of dastardly laundry issues. Overfilling doesn't leave enough space for the water and detergent to circulate around the clothing. Clothing rubs more, potentially causing pilling and stretching. And too much weight can stress your machine. The best way to know what full means to your washer is to check your machine's user guide. Fill is determined by weight, so a pair of jeans goes farther toward filling than cotton slacks. Try to mix clothing types and sizes, to give items more room to swish around. And it's just as important to not overfill the dryer. Clothing needs room to tumble and to allow the air inside the machine to circulate and do its job. A good rule of thumb here is 2/3 full.

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03 of 07

Which Temp is Best?

Which Temp is Best?

Start with washing: Again, check that all-important garment tag to see what is recommended for your piece of clothing. In general, if warm or hot water is permitted, it will do a better job of removing dirt and stains. A few rules of thumb: Cotton should be washed in cold or warm water; synthetics in warm; silk in cold. Moving on to the dryer, start by cleaning the lint trap; it reduces drying time and keeps your clothes fuzz-free. Separate lightweight clothes from heavier items. Over-drying clothing can also cause shrinkage and that dreadfully annoying, and occasionally embarrassing, static cling.

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04 of 07

Fast, slow or gentle?

Fast, slow or gentle?

Those buttons or knobs for wash cycles mean something. Presoak means just what it says, and is recommend for very dirty items, like your cargo pants after a hike. A regular wash cycle will have a full-force agitation and longer spin finish - for tee shirts or other heavy duty items - while the gentle cycle uses less of everything, and is especially recommended for delicate or treated fabrics, like swimwear. If your washing machine has a permanent press cycle, by all means use that on your perm press clothes, which are treated with a chemical to help keep them wrinkle-free. The special cycle helps preserve that process.

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05 of 07

Sorting Colors

Sorting Colors

Sort! Sort! Sort! We can't stress this enough. Some dyes bleed, especially in warmer water. Your red bra + blue cotton skirt + hot water = purple ensemble. So sorting by color is a must. Wash similar colors together: Whites, darks (black, brown, navy), lights (pastels) and colorfast brights (red, orange and purple).

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06 of 07

Which detergent?

Which detergent?

Just as you vary your wash temps and cycles to different clothing pieces, you'll want a variety of detergents. Hand wash items will require a gentle soap formulated for just that; same for loads with heavy stains. One big no-no is using too much detergent, which can leave residue on your clothing. Concentrated means just that; check doses carefully. How much detergent you use can depend on the hardness of your water. If you often see mineral deposits around the base of your faucets, your water is hard, and may require a bit more cleaner than softer water. For all-around deep cleaning that's still gentle on your clothing, try Tide TOTALCAREamp#153;. It helps keep your clothes like new, wash after wash.

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07 of 07

When to Line Dry

When to Line Dry

Machine drying is tough on your clothing, no doubt about it. It tosses your items around, causing pulling on the seams and the occasional snag on a zipper. Plus, the heat can fade your clothing. Air drying when possible avoids these problems, which is even better when you're dealing with light, colorful, delicate summer fabrics. It saves energy, too. Do make sure your clothes are hung or laid properly, sans wrinkles, as they'll dry in that shape. Only hang them outside when the weather is warm and dry, and avoid direct sunlight, which can cause fading. You can dry indoors, but avoid the basement, as the environment tends to be damp.

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