5 Laundry Mistakes You’re Definitely Making

Secrets of the laundry room decoded.


Your laundry room inspiration board. | Image via Instagram/Erin Chos and The Laundress.

Laundry: the bane of everyone’s existence. The endless dirty-clean-dirty cycle isn’t the only reason for most peoples’ intense dislike; it’s nearly impossible to keep all the rules straight. Too many sweaters have wound up child-sized, too many jeans have been stretched beyond repair, and too many expensive athletic garments have lost their stretch factor. Is there no way to fight back?

Actually, it turns out you’re just doing your laundry wrong. Besides separating lights and darks (duh), there are a few tricks to increase the lifespan of your clothes, which ultimately saves you major moola. Here are the five main laundry mistakes you’re probably making, plus how to clean your garments the right way (and avoid expensive dry-cleaning costs).


Image via StayGlam.

Never Ever: Use fabric softener. It ruins the stretchy material in your clothes and traps in odors – gross.
Always: Turn clothes inside-out before washing on cold cycle. Air-dry (or tumble-dry on low if you must).
Laundry Hack: To banish bad odors, add half a cup of white vinegar to your wash cycle instead of using fabric softener.


Image via Anthropologie.

Never Ever: Tumble dry. You will melt the elastic and cause cups to warp, aging your bra much quicker than it’s built to last.
Always: Wash bras in a delicates bag, setting your machine to gentle cycle. This will prevent the hooks from snagging on other clothes, stretching out the bands.
Laundry Hack: Shower-rinse your bras to prolong the time between washes – it’s basically the dry-shampoo method for your unmentionables.

sneakers laundry

Image via Adidas.

Never Ever: Place them in the dryer. The dryer heat might shrink them to uncomfortable, unusable proportions.
Always: Wash the insoles of your sneakers separately in a delicates bag.
Laundry Hack: Sneakers with foam soles will just float on top of the water in the washing machine; instead, throw them on the top rack of the dishwasher on short cycle.

jeans laundry

Image via Levi’s.

Never Ever: Place in the dryer. Ever. This makes them baggy, faded and tired-looking.
Always: Hang to dry.
Laundry Hack: Denim was designed to be durable and low-maintenance. Wash your pair like a mountain man would: every few months (if you can stand it) in ice cold water using minimal detergent. (Pssst. Here’s how to keep black jeans from fading in the wash.)


Image via Once Wed.

Never Ever: Wash anything made of silk, acetate, velvet, wool or taffeta in the washing machine – it will get ruined.
Always: Know you can get away with washing cotton, linen, cashmere, polyester, acrylic, and nylon at home in your delicates bag on gentle cycle.
Laundry Hack: If it says “dry clean,” think of it as more of a suggestion. If it reads “dry clean only,” don’t take your chances.

And finally, because I am endlessly perplexed by cryptic laundry hieroglyphics on tags, here’s an infographic of fabric care symbols and what they actually mean:

Happy laundering, my pretties.