How To Use A Washing Machine: A Complete Guide

Washing machines are on the top list of the most necessary and convenient household appliances. But are you sure you use them correctly? Most of us probably not! You should have realised that you’re doing something wrong. It might be the detergent dose or overloading your device.

Woman's hands loading dirty clothes in washing machine

Some signs prove you don’t use it properly, like discolouration on your garments, suds left on your laundry, or even your garments being appropriately washed. Here’s a complete guide on how to use a washing machine the right way! 

How to use a washing machine: The right way

If you want to get the most out of your machine, whether you own a front-load or a top load one, there are some simple rules to follow. 

1. Sort out clothes

Before anything else, you have first to sort out the laundry. You should separate clothes into whites and coloured. Afterwards, separate the coloured into dark and lights. Not all types of clothes and fabrics are washed the same way. Some need to be washed with hot water, others with cold water, or they might need to set the Hand wash setting depending on the fabric. Check the care labels to find out the type of material.

2. Prepare your laundry

Once you have separated the laundry, you should check for non-washable objects. Empty your pockets from harmful for your machine items, like coins or paper clips or papers. Then, turn your garments inside out, especially the dark ones. This way, lint won’t stick on the face of your favourite black dress. And one last thing. This is the perfect time to check the caring labels for special washing and drying instructions.

3. Get rid of dried dirt

If there’s dry dirt on a piece of clothing, you can remove it using a brush. For more stubborn stains, scrape it away with a knife. At this point, you should also check collars, armpits and hems of pants for stains. If you notice anything, scrub them with a brush and some detergent. 

And we kept for the end the white socks. White socks tend to get very dirty and can’t get cleaned in the device. So, before tossing them in the appliance, soak them in a bleaching agent and rinse them very well. Generally, white clothes require a different way to be washed and bleached.

4. Treat the stains

If a cloth is stained, you should pretreat it before popping it into the machine. Depending on the stain, there are various treatments

  • If it’s blood, urine, milk or egg, just soak it in cold water, pour some liquid detergent on the stain and rub the trouble area. Avoid using warm or hot water as it’ll make the stain permanent. 
  • If the stain has been set for days, pour some detergent directly on the dry stain and rub it with both your hands. 
  • If you have a coffee or tea stain, then soak the stain in soapy water for 15 -20 minutes
  • If there’s an oily stain, you should use a commercial stain remover.

How to use a front-loading machine

Front-loaders have much more buttons than top-loading machines. You might feel that it’s rather complicated due to the several functions, but it turns out to be very, very simple while running a cycle.

a washing machine with the door open

Step 1: Add the detergent and the fabric softener

Add the detergent to the detergent drawer. Check the labelled instructions on the detergent box for the dose. Keep in mind that you may need more detergent if you have dirty clothes or live in hard water areas. All fabric softener drawers have a MAX line. Don’t pass that line while adding the fabric conditioner. 

Step 2: Load your machine

Place your washable into the machine. Don’t overload it. You have to leave enough space for clothes to move. Check with your palm to see if you have the right amount of clothes. If it fits between your clothes and the drum, you have loaded the correct. If it doesn’t fit, you have to take some clothes out to make some space. 

Step 3: Choose the right wash temperature

Check the care labels on your garments to make sure of the temperature. If there are different temperatures, then you should set a lower temperature

Step 4: Choose the spin cycle

Recheck the care tags before setting the spin cycle. Keep in mind that delicate items need a slower cycle, whilst cotton and other “tough” fabrics can be washed in a faster one. 

Step  5: Unload immediately after the cycle’s end

You should always unload your washing machine right after the cycle ends or within 2 hours. Don’t leave your wet laundry to sit in the machine for long if you want to get fresh, clean clothes. 

How to use a top-loading washing machine 

These devices are slightly different from front loaders. Their main difference is that you load your laundry from the top. Toploaders also differ in use and care. Let’s find out how to use your toploader.

Step 1: Add the detergent

The first thing you should do is add detergent. If your machine has a detergent drawer, pour it in, otherwise directly into the empty drum. If you’re using pods, colour safe bleach or crystals, always add them directly to the tub and then load your device. What’s more, if you want to use liquid chlorine bleach or a fabric conditioner, use the special dispensers and carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions.

adding detergent into a top-loading washing machine

Step 2: Load your machine

Once you’ve added the detergent, it’s time to load your clothes. Pop your clothes in, watching out not to overload the machine. If you put too many clothes on, there’s a great chance not to be washed properly.

Step 3: Select the proper wash cycle

Select the wash cycle according to your garments. Check the labels to set the proper water temperature. Choose the colder one if you aren’t sure which cycle to set

Step 4: Unload right away

Always get your clean garments out of the machine right after the washing cycle ends or within 2 hours. This way you’ll have fresher clean clothes.

What not to put in the washing machine

Having a washing machine doesn’t mean that you can throw in the machine any fabric item. Some are forbidden to be washed in a washer because they might cause great damage to the device and be damaged too.

  • Suits: Suits are usually made of high-quality fabrics that can’t be washed in a delicate washing cycle because they can shrink or tear.
  • Embellished items: Whether they’re sewn or glued, anything with embellishments shouldn’t be washed in a washing machine. They can easily tear or break down the glue due to the hot water.
  • Garments with zippers and buttons. Of course, you can wash clothes with zippers and buttons, but you have to do it the right way. Unbutton the buttons, or the buttonholes will tear, and the buttons will be damaged. As for clothes with zippers, well… zip them. This way, you’ll prevent snagging, especially on delicate clothes, or scratching your device.
  • Swimsuits: If you want to keep your swimsuits in good condition, you should wash them by hand in warm water. Washing them in a washing machine may lead to losing their elasticity. What’s more, avoid drying them in a tumble dryer. Hang them to air dry instead.
  • Ties: Almost all ties are made of delicate fabrics and detailed stitching. Washing them in a washing machine will probably destroy them. If a tie is stained and needs a deep cleaning, you should spot-treat the stain, hand wash them or dry clean them.
  • Lace items: Lace is very delicate that can’t resist the washing machine. You better wash them by hand using cold tap water. However, if you want to wash them in the washer, place them in a mesh laundry bag and hang them to air dry instead of tumble drying them.
  • Sweaters: Sweaters can be washed in a washing machine as soon as you protect them by putting them in mesh laundry bags. Wool, cashmere and velvet sweaters may shrink in a washing machine.
  • Items covered in pet hair: If you have a pet, you must be rather careful while loading your clothes in the washer. You can’t just pop them in covered with pet hair. Wet fur can cause damage to your machine. It might stick to the sides, clog the drain pipes, and stick to other clothes. Thus, what you must do? Clean them using a fabric shaver before putting them in the machine.
  • Bras: Washing your bras in the washing machine can cause damage to your appliance, your bras and other garments. Your bra might lose its shape, it might get caught in the cylinder of your device, but it may also hook on the other clothing items and tear them. If you insist on washing them in the washer, put them first in a laundry bag. Otherwise, hand washing is your best option.
  • Running sneaker with leather details: Not all shoes are machine washable. Some sneakers can be washed in a washer. However, those with leather details can’t. In fact, you can’t wash anything made of leather as it tends to peel off. You can just clean stains, scrubbing them with a toothbrush and a mild soap.
  • Waterproof clothes: Raincoats, sleeping bags, car cover sheets shouldn’t be washed in a washer


1. How long can I leave my garments in the washing machine?

Avoid leaving your clothes in the machine for more than 8-12 hours. Clothes will begin to smell, and mildew will start to build up in your device, leading to getting both a smelly machine and clothes. 

a woman being disgusted by her washing machine's smell

2. When is the best time to use the washing machine?

Your machine will use the same energy and water whenever you wash your clothes. However, you may save on your energy bill if you run it at a different time than you usually do. Energy companies charge more when there’s a peak in energy use. 

  • Use it before 4 p.m. or after 7 p.m.
  • During the summer, use it more early in the mornings than afternoons.
  • Instead, run it late at night during winter, as in the morning there’s a great call for electricity.

3. How can I make my clothes smell good?

If you’re using fabric conditioner but your clothes don’t smell nice? Here are some tips to make them smell better:

    • Don’t put too many clothes on the appliance. If you overload it, then clothes can’t spin around as they should be, dirt will trap between the clothes, and detergent won’t have the needed space to spread on the laundry.
    • As we’ve already mentioned,  don’t leave your clothes in the machine for more than 8- 12 hours).  They will start to smell. 
    • Dry clothes very well.
    • Clean the washing machine regularly. Dirt, lint, soap scum, detergent residue can cause foul odours to the device and, as a result, on your clothes too. Clean the drum, that detergent dispenser and the door seal regularly to prevent mildew development. 

4. How can I make my clothes soft without a fabric softener?

If you prefer not to use fabric conditioners but don’t know how to get soft clothes, here are a couple of ways to get fluffy garments. 

    1. Use white vinegar to the last rinsing. A half-cup of vinegar will dissolve the detergent making your clothes soft.
    2. Use less detergent. Too much laundry detergent leaves residue on your clothes, making them stiff. 
    3. Add baking soda. Add a cup of baking soda to the drawer dispenser. It’ll soften both the water and your clothes.
    4. Air dry your laundry. Hang your clothes outside on a windy day. The air and the movement will help to soften them. 

5. How much laundry detergent should I use?

The detergent dose depends on the type of machine you own, the water’s hardness, the number of clothes you load, the dirt level, and the detergent you use.

a woman loading the washing machine

Knowing how to use your washing machine properly will have the fresher and cleaner laundry you have ever had. Always check the care labels on the clothes and read the manufacturer’s instructions not to void your machine’s warranty.

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