ASKO - How to wash clothes properly

How to wash clothes properly

Too much of a good thing?

It’s no exaggeration to say that a washing machine is the most important part of a household. Day in, day out, these nifty appliances do our dirty work and keep us looking and smelling good. Whether you’ve recently purchased a new one or have a machine you’ve trusted for years, these guidelines will help you keep it in top shape.

How detergents work on clothes

Laundry detergents have come a long way since the days of a single bar of yellow soap and a wash tub. Nowadays there are multiple chemicals that all work together to clean clothes.

The main ingredient is a surfactant, a chemical similar to soap that works by binding dirt to itself as the machine rinses water through the load. The next key ingredient is a builder, a chemical that works as a surfactant aid. After builders come dirt repellant agents which prevent dirt from being re-deposited onto clothing, and whitening agents which reflect ultraviolet light to make colours look brighter.

The final ingredient found in detergents is perfume, which adds a fresh smell. However, because increasing numbers of people are irritated by the presence of synthetic perfumes, most brands now sell a range of detergents without any added scents.

An overload of clothes

When thinking about purchasing a new washing machine, it’s important to consider how big your average load is. How much can you fit inside the drum?

The optimal amount of laundry detergent depends on the load size, but for a medium-sized load, between two tablespoons to half a cap of a laundry detergent will do the job.

While it’s tempting to add extra detergent, using too much means it won’t be completely washed out of your clothes. The leftover detergent may turn up as white streaks on clothing, especially on darker fabrics. For a larger load, as long as your clothes have enough room, the washing machine will be able to circulate water and detergent efficiently.

Hard to clean? Could be hard water!

Councils around Australia work hard to keep tap water safe to drink, but did you know that a high level of minerals naturally occur in many city water supplies? Though there are benefits to having minerals like calcium and magnesium in our water supply, these minerals can also contribute to an effect called ‘hard water’.

Hard water is a term that reflects the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water, and the higher the level of minerals present, the harder it is for laundry detergents to dissolve and become an active cleaning agent. The detergent binds to the minerals in the water instead of onto the dirt on the clothes, and leaves a residue of grey scum on the inside of the washing machine and on clothing. Most laundry detergents contain chemicals to counteract this process, but if the water in your area is especially hard, you may need to use more detergent to get a truly clean load of washing.

Without a counteracting agent, hard water can shorten the lifespan of a piece of clothing by up to 40 percent. Over the long term, hard water can also build up inside the drum of a washing machine and cause corrosion throughout the pipes. One step you can take to prevent hard water damage to your washing machine is to run an empty hot water cycle with four cups of white vinegar – the acid in the vinegar will scour away any build up of calcium inside the machine. 

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