Are You Washing Your Clothes Wrong?


Washing clothes is not very romantic. However if you were to fall in love, and if one thing were to lead to another, you might find yourself washing other people’s clothes in your very own washer and dryer. Such is the way of the world.

I have been the owner of my own machines for three decades now, and I have washed lots of clothes that were dirtied by others. So I was attracted by an article entitled, “Are You Washing Your Clothes Wrong? Probably.” I will state up front that I am not a professional in the laundry game, and yet I couldn’t help but wonder how clothes could be washed “wrong,” unless you put a pair of red socks in with the underwear (guilty) or toss a linen shirt into the dryer (guilty again).

But I’ve learned from my mistakes and feel very confident about my laundry skills.

First on the list from the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), water temperature. Apparently clothes should be washed in hot water to kill germs. You can color me surprised about this, since I have never heard of anyone getting sick from bad laundry practices. Can you imagine a doctor saying, “Ma’am, I am sorry to tell you that you have contracted a terrible disease from your unsterilized underwear.” It was nice to see some skepticism from the reporter on this story who asked an environmental group for their thoughts. The group said, it’s the detergent not the water temperature that kills germs.

There seems to be a lot of finger-pointing in the laundry world. The hot-water folks came right back at the environmentalists by suggesting that if you really want to be eco-friendly, hang your properly washed clothes outside to dry. I will simply point out that if you have neighbors, this might not be perceived as noble. Take it from me.

Back to the research: Another thing people are doing wrong is not washing frequently enough. For the record, my mother always said to wash clothes you wear against your skin (i.e. underwear and tee shirts) after each wearing so I am on board with a similar recommendation from the ACI. Here’s the sentence: “Underwear, socks, tanks and tee shirts should be cleaned after each wear, along with tights and, believe or not, jeggings.” I suspect our reporter must own a pair of jeggings that he or she is not washing after each wearing. My advice: Buy a real pair of pants. Our laundry advisors allow “three or four wears” before they are tossed back in the drink.

Finally, here’s a little bit of obvious advice: “…towels should be hung dry after each use…”

I hope the people in my house read this.

Coming in mid-November: I will be blogging about my 10 most fascinating people of 2013. I have found some really doozies so you will not want to miss the countdown.

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