We’ve teamed up with Miele to share expert-approved laundry tips and tricks for making sure your clothes (and sheets, towels, and more) stay in tip-top shape—no matter how many times you run them through the washer and dryer.
As a sentimentalist and a nostalgic dresser, my most prized piece of clothing is a cream-colored Lehigh University crew neck from the mid-1980s. This vintage sweatshirt belonged to my mom in college and was passed down to me as a child, when it hung below my knees. It’s been a treasured garment ever since, keeping me warm from elementary school all the way to adulthood.
Through more than three decades of wear between my mom and me, the piece has endured innumerable cycles in the washer and dryer. Over time, it’s gone from fluffy and fleecy to paper thin with holes scattered around the seams. Despite (and maybe even because of) its threadbare condition, I love this sweatshirt and throw it on regularly.
In the hope that my own daughter might be able to sport it one day, I’m being more thoughtful about how I care for it—and the rest of my clothes, too. Here are seven handy laundry tips for making sure your most cherished pieces last (and last):
1. Skip the Dry Cleaning
Though plenty of clothing tags read “Dry Clean Only,” you needn’t always abide by these instructions. Dry cleaning, which employs a chemical solvent to launder the surface of clothing, can actually deteriorate fabrics.
Materials like linen, wool, and silk are all totally safe to get wet, and typically fare well in a delicate or express cycle (you can put them in a mesh bag to reduce abrasion). If you’re worried about colors bleeding, you may want to spot test a smaller area first. By cutting down on your dry cleaning habit, you’re saving your items from unnecessary wear—and your wallet from the extra expense.
2. Pre-Treat Stains
If you stain a favorite item, the best chance it has at recovery is with pre-treatment. Drench the problem area in detergent or stain remover and let it sink in before washing. You can also soak the item in cold water before the cycle, which will ease out the stain. Some washing machines come with extra help—Miele’s machines, for instance, have an “Extra White” setting, which significantly aids stain removal on white clothing.
3. Don’t Go Overboard With Detergent
Believe it or not, more detergent does not equal cleaner laundry. In fact, using too much detergent can leave a residue on clothes, making them feel stiff and scratchy, and causing them to dull in color. All of this ages clothes more quickly than they need to, as well.
Some new, high-tech washing machines (like Miele’s) have automated dispensers that release just the right amount of detergent for each load. If you don’t have a feature like this, be aware that the measuring cup that comes with most detergents is larger than necessary. A tablespoon (or two for an extra-large load) is typically all you need.
4. Wash Your Darks Inside Out
To keep your dark clothes vibrantly dark, turn them inside out before you put them in the washing machine. This simple trick will help combat the fading that can happen when you wash blacks, navies, and forest greens because it prevents the fabric surfaces from rubbing against each other. Sure, the interior side might experience some color erosion, but the exterior will remain protected.
5. Choose a Shorter Cycle
As long as your beloved items aren’t terribly soiled, a shorter cycle is usually the wisest choice. Whether they’re delicate (in which case you definitely need the gentlest cycle) or not, if you can minimize the number of times your stuff spins around in the wash, you’ll be adding longevity.
6. Use Cold Water When Possible
Cold water is a good friend to your laundry: It tends to be far less abrasive on fabrics than super-hot water, which can cause shrinking and stretching. It is also especially kind to darks and bright colors since hot water has the ability to fade.
As a bonus, cold water conserves energy, which helps the environment and saves you money. Of course, you won’t always be able to use cold water—there are certain instances where warm water actually works best, like with jeans and most white clothing. Reserve that hot water for towels and soiled whites.
7. Know Which Dryer Setting to Pick
The words “normal” or “regular” can be extremely misleading when it comes to dryer settings. These modes actually offer the highest heat, which shouldn’t be used in most cases; only heavy items like towels and jeans thrive at this temperature level.
For clothes you care about, the delicate setting, which provides low heat, should be your go-to; using a gentler heat prevents shrinking and damage to materials. Some dryers, like Miele’s, also offer settings specifically for woolens/silk and dress shirts, so those types of garments can receive the special treatment they deserve. If you have an item with surface embellishments, definitely pick tumble dry. This setting air dries your clothes without the additional heat—it’s a surefire way to keep your pieces intact.
What are your best laundry tips? Share them in the comments below!
In partnership with Miele, we’re sharing our best tips to streamline your laundry routine—and make sure your clothes look as fresh as the day you bought them. To completely transform the way you do laundry, check out Miele’s W1 washing machines and T1 tumble dryers, with high-tech additions and features (like timesaving Express and QuickIntenseWash cycles, plus heat-pump technology for energy-efficient drying) that make keeping your items clean easier than ever.