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The Easy Guide to Washing Clothes and Managing Your Laundry

Wondering what wash symbols mean? Having problems when washing your clothes? Read this article to find out easy ways to wash clothes & manage your laundry.


laundry basket with clothes

Washing clothes can be easy when you understand the wash symbols on individual garments and learn some handy tips and tricks for dealing with laundry. Soon, the things that make laundry such a challenging task – like removing stains or noticing that clothes smell after washing – can be prevented, making the chore much quicker, easier, and even enjoyable!

Don’t be haunted by past laundry nightmares! With knowledge of what wash symbols mean and the right detergent for the type of fabric you can achieve great results! Don’t forget to regularly clean your washing machine to help ensure it works at its best to get your clothes sparkling clean.

Understanding Wash Symbols

Perhaps the best way to manage and organise the laundry process is by taking note of the wash symbols that appear on each item of clothing. These laundry symbols are there for a reason: to maintain the quality of the clothing and to speed up the process of washing clothes by ensuring that they’re cleaned correctly the first time, without the need for further treatment or re-washing. If you’re a little confused about what the different wash symbols mean, here’s a handy guide:

  • Some symbols represent the temperature at which the garment should be washed. This will either be a number of degrees, such as 30 or 40, or a series of dots, with one dot indicating a cool wash (for woollens and delicates), and three dots indicating a hot wash (for items like towels).

  • Laundry symbols with a cross through them are very important. This means the item should not be subjected to a specific treatment. Common symbols include irons, tumble dryers, and bleach. Be sure to follow these instructions, as you don’t want to damage your clothes by mistake.

  • On some items, drying instructions are given. These are usually self-explanatory, demonstrating, for example, when an item can be hung from a washing line. One symbol indicates when the item must be dried on a flat surface; this symbol is often found on woollens that can stretch if they are hung up to dry (or which will shrink if dried in the dryer!).

Common Problems and Solutions When Washing Clothes

Some common problems can make doing laundry time-consuming and ineffective. Here are some simple solutions to a few of the most common laundry concerns:

  • If you’ve noticed that clothes smell after washing, it could be that the damp items are being left too long in the machine after the cycle is complete. With so many other things that need to be done around the house, it’s so easy to forget about the laundry. If possible, always try to empty the machine immediately – either moving items to a dryer or letting them dry naturally.

  • Clothes that come out of the washer stiff and rigid have probably been treated with too much detergent or with the wrong type of detergent. It’s important to use the correct amount of detergent, not only to keep your clothes soft but also to keep the washing machine running smoothly. If this continues to be a problem, use a fabric softener like Comfort.

  • Some stubborn stains stick around even after the clothes have been washed. To prevent these stains, try washing your clothes with a special stain treatment or with a different detergent. Before putting your clothes in the washing machine, try dabbing the stain with a dedicated spot stain remover, or use a detergent specially designed for tackling even the dirtiest of garments.

  • Use the correct amount of detergent as recommended on the bottle.

  • Empty the machine as soon as possible after the cycle has finished.

  • Remember to follow the drying instructions on the garment care label, as well as the washing instructions.

Originally published