How to wash your clothes in the washing machine

Check out our tips for getting the best and most out of your wash in our helpful guide to washing clothes in a washing machine.


basket of clothes to be washed in the washing machine
An essential part of washing your clothes is to choose the right detergent for the type of fabrics being laundered, and for the wash cycle and temperature you are using. When washing at a lower temperature, you can use a liquid biological laundry detergent, like Persil Bio, as these contain enzymes, which are designed for effective cleaning, even at low temperatures. Just remember to follow the instructions on the detergent’s label.

Key Steps:

  1. Make sure your machine is functioning properly – regularly cleaning your washing machine will help to keep it in top shape.
  2. Sort your laundry before loading your machine.
  3. Check the wash labels on your garments and choose the appropriate wash cycle.
  4. Add the correct amount of detergent as recommended on the bottle or container.

If you’ve just purchased your first washing machine you might still be worrying whether you’ve bought a good washing machine, how to use the different settings correctly, and what type of detergent you should buy. You might even need some pointers for how to use a washing machine for the first time. But it couldn’t be simpler, just follow our step-by-step guide for how to use washing machines, below.

Do you use powder, capsules or liquid to wash your clothes?

Make Sure the Machine is Correctly Installed

Whether you’re doing this yourself, or the service has been provided as part of your purchase, you’ll want to know that your washing machine is set up the right way from the start. Consult the manufacturer’s instruction manual and check the water and electricity are connected properly, and the machine is placed on a level surface in a dry, safe location.

Sorting Your Clothes

Before you load your washing machine, be sure to check the care labels on your clothes and divide them into piles of garments of the same:

  • colour (darks/colours/lights)
  • fabric (e.g.: cotton, synthetics, wool, silk)
  • maximum temperature (hand wash/30/40/60/90 degrees)

A guide to the symbols on care labels can usually be found in the manufacturer’s instruction manual for your machine. Alternatively, check out our guide.

How to Load a Washing Machine

The majority of washing machines in the UK are fully-automatic: they do everything for you – washing, rinsing, and spinning. But they are made in different shapes and sizes: some are top-loading; others are front loading, drum capacities range from 5kg to 10kg. It’s important that you learn how many clothes your machine can wash at one time, since an over-loaded machine can malfunction, or damage you fabrics. Most manufacturers’ instructions contain a guide.

Choose the Right Washing Machine Cycle

Modern washing machines use intelligent technology and sensors to adjust the cycle to the type of clothes you are washing. However, you should take care choosing the right temperature water, the correct amount of agitation, and how fast the drum should spin. All these elements will effect how well your clothes are washed. Many machines now have the following useful settings:

  • Hand-wash/delicate/dry clean
  • Shoes/Sports clothes
  • Cold wash (30 degrees)
  • Variable spin speeds
  • Opt-in/out rinse cycles

Add an Appropriate Detergent

Different brands of washing detergent recommend different methods of adding it to the wash – some suggest you add detergent directly to the drum, along with your clothes; others believe you should add it to the pull-out detergent tray in your machine. Whether you’re using liquid or powder detergent, always make sure it is suited to the fabric you are washing and follow the instructions on the packaging. Also check your machine’s instruction guide to find out what is recommended for your machine.

Pre-treat Stains

It’s not simply enough to know how to wash clothes in the washing machine, you should also swat up on how to remove stains before you launder your clothes. A variety of stains are better treated directly or by soaking first. You can also find a handy stain removal guide here.

Use Your Washing Machine Wisely

Washing machines are not just for cleaning clothes – they can be used to wash a number of other household items. How do you use a washing machine to clean bed linen, pillow, or duvets? Just check out these articles on how to wash a duvet and pillows for advice. And did you know net curtains can also be washed in your machine? Many items also can’t be washed in a washing machine – particularly those marked ‘Dry Clean Only’, so always check the care labels before you fill your machine to avoid any kind of damage.

Originally published