Are YOU making these classic washer dryer mistakes? Learn to be a wash-day winner not a laundry loser

How hard can it be to do your laundry the right way? With this handy guide, not at ALL hard

Washer dryer mistakes
(Image credit: Getty)

The washer dryer is one of the greatest inventions of the modern age, untethering humans from the sink or the misery of the laundrette. Assuming you have just come fresh from our guide to the best washer dryers available to humanity, you are probably feeling pretty happy right now, but wait just one second there. Are you making rookie errors with your machine?

We do our laundry so often that we pay little mind to our routine. Simply throw in a pile of clothes, put in detergent, press a button and let it do all the work. How hard is that, right? But while it’s a simple and quick chore, it doesn’t mean that we’re doing it right. In fact, most of us have probably been using our washer dryers wrong all along, affecting the overall cleaning performance.

From using too much washing powder to not paying attention to care labels, these are just some bad laundry habits that we’re totally oblivious to. These could often result in unclean and damaged clothes or worse case, a broken washer dryer machine which would be more costly in the long-run. 

Let's find out here and now if YOU are guilty of making these common washer dryer mistakes… and also how to solve them. We're glad to say that these tips also hold true for our best washing machines and best tumble dryers. A washer dryer is a combination of the two, you see.

1. Overloading the machine

Washer dryer mistakes

Woah there, fella!

(Image credit: Unsplash/Dan Gold)

Come on, we've all done this one. We tend to pile in as much laundry as we can in one go to try and save time. But while we think we’re being efficient, we’ll still end up with dirty clothes! There’s a reason why washing machines have a weight capacity. Our clothes need ample room to tumble around inside the drum, and so overstuffing means they won’t get washed properly or dried. It’s best to wash smaller loads with enough room to spin around freely. More so, overloading regularly causes excess weight and water that puts a strain on the drum and will damage the machine.

2. NOT putting a dry tea towel in during drying

Washer dryer mistakes

Dang, I forgot the tea towel

(Image credit: Getty)

Sounds bizarre, but according to house management expert Shannon Lush, a dry tea towel in your tumble dryer can make all the difference. In fact, apparently, it will make your washing dry a third quicker.  It's because the cloth, “Wicks the water away, spreading the surface area,” for the dryer to work more efficiently. So it may be worth throwing in the towel, after all. Ho ho!

3. Too much detergent

Washer dryer mistakes

THINK before you fill

(Image credit: Pexels/Rodnae)

Think that the more detergent you use, the cleaner your clothes will be? Think again, friend. Experts say that using more washing powder or liquid creates excessive soap suds that will in fact trap dirt, germs and odours. This may leave a grimy residue on your clothing and clog up the machine. Then before you know it, you'll be taking the internet's advice and cleaning your drum with a dishwasher tablet, which is something we do not recommend. 

So stick to the recommended amount of detergent for the load you’re washing. 

4. Not reading the garment care labels

washer dryer mistakes

You won't be wearing this again

(Image credit: Kin)

Yes, reading every single garment care label is a chore. But you know what else is a chore? Having to buy a new red jumper, because you turned it into a pink jumper, sized for an absolutely tiny person.

As well as sorting through colours, it’s essential to read the care labels carefully to ensure the right temperature for the material. From delicate to dry clean only, reading the care labels can save you the despair of ruining your favourite garments in the long-run. And don't try to pretend that you've 'upcycled' your wool jumper into something for your toddler; we won't believe you.

5. Not doing up your zips

Washer dryer mistakes


(Image credit: Unsplash/Marcus Urbenz)

Always do up zippers all the way to the top, especially on jeans and casual wear. Otherwise the teeth may annoyingly snag on delicate fabrics, pulling at the threads and damaging garments. Also, don’t forget to turn your jeans inside out for colour protection and to reduce fading. Or, even better, don't put your jeans in the washing machine at all; get them dry cleaned. 

6. Shunning dryer balls

TaylorMade Tour Response Golf Ball

No, not this type of ball

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These may seem ‘gimmicky’ but dryer balls are energy saving, reduce static and can cut drying time by up to 25%. Use them in conjunction with a dry tea towel and drying may be so quick that you actually go backwards in time.

Also used as a fabric conditioner alternative, wool dryer balls fluff out your clothes in the tumbler to make them softer and reduce lint build-up. For regular-sized loads, balls are sufficient, but you can use up to 12 for larger loads. Remember to always leave the door open after each cycle to air out. 

7. Drying TOO dry


Don't expect this to be quick

(Image credit: Philips)

It’s great unloading freshly tumble-dried clothes, but this is not ideal for ironing, even if you use the best iron from our list of the best steam irons. Smoothing those wrinkles out of clothes is much easier when they're slightly damp. 

If you’ve mucked up, and the clothes are bone-dry, keep a water spray bottle at hand to add a little moisture back. You could use the spray on your iron, but you'll be there all day, let's face it. 

8. Using fabric conditioner

Washer dryer mistakes

Condition: red

(Image credit: Pexels/Rodnae)

Have you ever wondered why your towels aren’t drying as well as they used to? Surprisingly, the culprit could be your favourite fabric conditioner. Sure, they make your bath towels nice and soft and fluffy, but the silicon oil in fabric conditioners also reduces their absorbency. 

Since the whole point of a towel is to absorb, it’s best to ditch the conditioner altogether, as practically everyone under the age of 30 already has. 

The same applies for active wear. This is made from sweat-absorbing synthetic materials, and conditioner will leave a waxy coating on the clothing that stops it absorbing sweat. That's right: using fabric conditioner could mean you quite literally drown in your own sweat. Is that what you want? Is it?!

9. Scrubbing stains

washer dryer mistakes

Resist the urge to scrub that, please

(Image credit: Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto)

When we acquire annoying stains, it’s common practice to vigorously scrub at them with a soapy cloth or brush. But this could actually do more harm than good, causing the soiled area to spread. That is why we say this: we don't want no scrubs.

In fact, the best way to deal with fabric stains is to blot, not scrub

Gently dab at the stain until it fades, and for stubborn stains, use a stain-remover before putting it into the wash. That Vanish powder is also pretty good. Ideally, whatever method you use, don't let the stain dry completely before whacking it in the wash.

10. Not emptying your lint trap

Washer dryer mistakes

Keep it lint free

(Image credit: Pixelbay/Steve B)

This is the filter that traps all the lint, loose fibres and anything else from our laundry. Not cleaning the filter properly reduces air flow throughout the dryer, so your clothes will take much longer to dry. This can also result in lint flowing through the dryer and clogging up the vent, which could even become a potential fire hazard. 

If that's not motivation to clean your lint trap after every cycle, we don't know what is.

Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence is a freelance lifestyle journalist and digital editor for national publications. She also has a rather unhealthy obsession for Homes & Interiors, and loves a good bargain.