How to Use Washing Machines: Understanding Symbols
Checking all the washing machine symbols on garments before loading them into the machine is the simplest way to protect your clothes from damage. Washing machine symbols indicate at what temperature you should be washing different fabrics, and they can also recommend a particular cycle, and even a type of detergent. Here’s what you need to know:
- The Number. When wash symbols on a label feature a number, you should pay attention to this – the number relates to the temperature of the wash. Some natural fabrics, like silks and woollens, can shrink in hot washes, whereas hardwearing cottons are best washed in higher temperatures to ensure they’re completely clean. Heavy-duty cottons, such as bedding and towels, may feature a wash symbol of 95 degrees – a near-boil wash. Truthfully, many people choose to use a standard 40 degree wash instead for environmental purposes. Delicates often need a much lower number, usually 30 degrees.
- The Line. Underneath the number, your wash symbols may feature a horizontal line, or a broken horizontal line. These lines relate to the garment’s fabric, and the sort of cycle that is needed for that particular material. A complete line indicates synthetic fabrics that need a moderate cycle. A broken line indicates a woollen fabric requiring a gentle cycle to protect the fibres.
- If you’d like to include bleach (or a washing detergent that contains a bleaching agent) when using the washing machine, always check the care symbols before washing your clothes. Always take care when using bleach, as it can damage some materials. Wear gloves & ensure the room is well ventilated. A triangle symbol with a cross through it means ‘do not bleach’ – so choose a gentle and mild detergent instead.
Different Washing Machines & Their Settings
If you’re making the switch from hand washing to using an appliance, you might have chosen a twin tub or a semi automatic machine. These are much more energy efficient and less expensive, though they can make doing the laundry a little more time consuming than fully automatic machines.
Regardless of whether you own a twin tub or an automatic, to make the most of using the washing machine, you really need to get to grips with its settings and cycles, and discover how they can benefit you and your family. For example, a regular spin cycle can be too severe for some delicate garments. Washing delicates with a moderate or gentle cycle is the best option. Less movement during the spin cycle will reduce the risk of fabric snagging. Gentle cycles are also particularly good for embroidered garments that can unravel in a ‘normal’ wash.
When drying your clothes, be aware that certain fabrics should not be dried in a dryer – woollens and other natural fibres can shrink with heat. Also avoid drying clothes that aren’t completely clean, as heat can set ground-in stains, making them more difficult to wash out.