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13 Ways You’ve Been Doing Laundry Wrong (And What To Do Instead)

Keep your clothes cleaner, your home greener and your hydro bill low with these expert laundry tips.

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Woman doing laundryPhoto: Shutterstock

Go scent-free

A 2011 study found that fragranced products cause dryer vents to emit seven compounds that contain hazardous air pollutants and two that are carcinogenic.

Make cleaning less of a hassle with these brilliant laundry hacks.

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Man pouring detergent for laundryPhoto: Shutterstock

Choose products wisely

Even “unscented” brands may not be what they purport to be. “Unscented detergents can still contain fragrances to mask chemical smells,” says Lindsay Coulter, the David Suzuki Foundation’s green-living expert.

Learn how to boost your laundry detergent.

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Try your hand at DIY

If you want to avoid mystery ingredients, make your own detergent. The David Suzuki Foundation recommends using ½ cup per load of a mixture of two teaspoons of salt, two tablespoons of baking soda, two tablespoons of liquid Castile soap and one litre of hot water.

Check out these DIY cleaning products you can use in every room of your home.

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Essential oils on black tablePhoto: Shutterstock

Nix the essential oils

Don’t scent homemade detergent with essential oils. “Some dryers heat up to about 57 C, which is above the flashpoint for some essential oils,” says Michael Papeo, captain of public education, East Command, for Toronto Fire Services.

Beware of these cleaning products you should never mix.

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Towels folded on tablePhoto: Shutterstock

A little vinegar goes a long way

If your towels are musty, add a cup of white vinegar or a cup of baking soda to your wash load (but not both at once).

You’ll wish you knew these genius uses for vinegar sooner!

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Green fleece jacketPhoto: Shutterstock

Watch out for microfibres

Your fleece jacket made from recycled bottles likely contains microfibres—pollutants that account for 35 per cent of microplastics in the world’s oceans. “With every wash, your garments are shedding microfibres that end up in waterways and eventually in the food chain,” says Coulter. Special fibre-trapping bags can help keep them out of the drain.

Did you know that a single load of laundry causes major water pollution? One Canadian, however, might have a solution.

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Clothing line outsidePhoto: Shutterstock

You don’t always need chlorine

Instead of using chlorine bleach, disinfect your clothes by line drying. Sunlight’s ultraviolet rays are effective at killing bacteria in fabrics. Bonus: they’re free.

Find out how to effectively disinfect sheets.

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Laundry detergentPhoto: Shutterstock

Don’t overuse detergent

Using more detergent won’t make clothes cleaner. Over time, excess detergent can build up and cause smelly residue inside your machine. Use the least amount of detergent possible—start with half the recommended amount, and if your clothes still come out clean, you can try reducing even further.

Here’s how to tell if you’re using too much laundry detergent.

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Lint trayPhoto: Shutterstock

Clean your lint trays

Lint buildup in the filter and vents is a primary cause of the dozens of fires started by dryers every year in Toronto, says Papeo. “Empty your lint tray before every load and vacuum the filter and inside the trap from time to time.”

Learn these expert hacks to improve every room in your home.

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Vibrant, colourful sock in washing machinePhoto: Shutterstock

Your socks really are going missing

The real “sock monster” responsible for your missing hosiery? Your washing machine. Small items can slip past the rubber gasket on a front-loading washer, and get trapped underneath the drum. If you’re suspicious, get a pro to investigate, and wash all your socks in a mesh bag to prevent disappearances.

If you have too many unmatched socks, try these clever uses for old socks!

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Blue jeans in washing machinePhoto: Shutterstock

Wash your jeans

There’s no getting around washing jeans. Some people swear that storing their denim in the freezer kills germs, but that’s a myth—the bacteria only go dormant.

Can you guess which product will whiten laundry without bleach?

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Washing machinePhoto: Shutterstock

Wash cold

Up to 75 per cent of the energy used for washing clothes goes toward heating the water. Your clothes will get just as clean in a cold-water wash and they’ll last longer—lower temperatures preserve dyes and reduce shrinkage.

Here are the ways you’re shortening the life of your washer and dryer.

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Man removing clothing from washing machinePhoto: Shutterstock

High-efficiency is a worthy investment

Switching to a high-efficiency, Energy Star–certified machine not only saves you up to 25 per cent on your hydro bills, it’s better for the planet. On an annual basis, a full-sized Energy Star machine can save more than 7,500 litres of water compared to old-schoold washers.

Next, check out these crazy cleaning tips that actually work!

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada