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How to wash clothes in a washing machine
Laundry

How to wash clothes in a washing machine

Avoid common laundry pitfalls with this washing machine guide! With these tips on how to wash clothes in the washing machine, you'll get great laundry resutls!

Key Steps:

  1. Check your care labels – your washing machine can’t determine if your garments are delicate or not all by itself!
  2. Manually select the correct cycle and temperature for your garments.
  3. Use the appropriate amount of laundry detergent as recommended on the product’s label.

The last century has seen us wave goodbye to the torturous process of hand washing and welcome the invention of the timesaving washing machine. Using a washing machine is a simple and affordable way to clean clothes; however, as many of us know, it can sometimes prove a little tricky to use!

Washing clothes in a washing machine is actually very simple once you know the basics – so we’ve created a step-by-step guide to get your clothes smelling as fresh as a daisy and free of those difficult stains and marks. Before you wash clothes in a washing machine, it is essential to check the care label on each garment in order to avoid damaging the material. You should also ensure that all pockets are empty, and that zips are done up to avoid them snagging other garments. 

  • Sort your laundry into piles before you wash clothes in a washing machine 

Sort the clothes into separate piles. Match similar colours together (whites, darks, and bright colours) then sort these piles into similar materials, keeping delicate and woollen clothes separate. It is important to separate colours into the correct pile in order to avoid the dye running in the machine and damaging other garments. Delicate and woollen items need a special wash cycle to prevent shrinkage and damage.

  • Check the care label

Every garment has a care label – these are the first port of call when you’re wondering how to wash clothes in a washing machine. The care label tells you what fabric the item of clothing is made from, which temperature setting on the washing machine should be used, and if it should be dry-cleaned or hand-washed. There should also be instructions on how to dry the garment and on whether or not it may be ironed. This guide to wash care symbols explains what you need to know.

  • Pre-treating stains before washing clothes in a washing machine is essential 

Before you wash clothes in a washing machine, check the garment for any stains. Pre-treating stains improves your chances of removing the stain altogether. There are many liquid detergents that can also be used as a pre-treatment – we like Persil small & mighty ­– and these often work wonders. Always check the label to ensure that you are using your product safely and in the most effective way. Follow the instructions on the label carefully, and remember not to rub the fabric together in attempt to remove the stain, as this will often cause it to spread further.   

  • Setting the water temperature, spin, & size load 

Now comes the trickiest part of washing clothes in a washing machine. Having checked your care labels, set the temperature of your washing machine to match. Dark colours are usually washed in colder water (this can be as low as 15 degrees if your fabric is woollen, but it’s usually around 40) and light colours are washed in warmer water (up to 60 degrees for cotton garments). This is the most essential step to get right, as washing at too high a temperature can warp or shrink your clothes.
Choosing the right size load is relatively easy. Machines usually have three load options: small, medium, and large. The load setting should be chosen according to the amount of clothing you’re planning on washing – selecting the right one will save energy. Remember that even a large load setting won’t work well if you’re over-stuffing your machine, so ensure that there is always enough room in the drum for your clothes to move around.

Finally, the spin cycle should be chosen according to how robust your fabric is. Most machines have ‘Hand-wash’ ‘Delicates’ or ‘Woollen’ settings for fragile fabrics – it’s particularly important that you use them when washing your underwear, woollen garments, and anything with a great deal of beading or sequins. Other fabrics can take a faster spin cycle, which will also help drain excess moisture from your clothes.

  • Deciding how long to wash clothes in a washing machine

Setting the right wash cycle depends on your needs and the material at hand. Quick-wash cycles are perfect if you’re in a rush, but this setting should only really be used for clothes that do not need a thorough wash. Normal cycles can be used on most materials, and leave your clothes fresh. Some machines also have a pre-soak setting to help you shift stubborn stains.

  • Adding detergent

The amount of detergent you use to wash clothes in a washing machine depends on the size of the load, the hardness of the water in your area, and on your detergent – check the label. Most detergents, like Persil, explain how much should be used and where to place it in your washing machine. A fabric softener, such as Comfort, is a great way to give clothes a little extra fragrance and a pleasant feel – you’ll be particularly impressed with the impact on jumpers.

  • Drying after washing clothes in a washing machine

Drying the washed clothes will depend on the material of the garment. Check the care label to find out if the garment can be washed in a tumble dryer. Some clothes may need to be laid out flat, or reshaped when damp. This information will all be on the care label.

By following the above steps, you’ll be able to wash clothes in a washing machine easily, with your clothes coming out of the machine smelling fresh and looking stain-free. So sort out your piles, and set the correct cycle – from now on, your laundry woes will be a thing of the past!

Top Tip


Washing machines are incredibly versatile: you can even use them to wash some kinds of trainers! Just put them in with a couple of towels to prevent them from bashing around the machine. For extra-delicate items, provide a little extra protection in the wash by using a laundry bag.