Chances are, even if you've been doing laundry for decades, you could still use a few pointers on how to wash your clothes correctly. I've written on this topic for the past few years, and even I learned a few new tricks visiting P & G's Cincinnati headquarters to attend "Fabric Care University" with a handful of other journalists and mom, clothing designer and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe. Here, three tips you probably didn't know about washing your clothes.
1. If you think of fabric care like hair care, you'll get more mileage out of your clothes. The thread structure in clothing is similar to human hair, which we clean and condition for optimal results. Well, you should really be doing the same thing to your clothes to increase their performance and longevity. How? By pairing your regular detergent with a liquid fabric conditioner like Downy, because that's what liquid fabric conditioners do – condition your clothes to stand up better to daily wearing with your range of motion. "When you use liquid fabric conditioner in the rinse cycle of your laundry, you'll actually have less wrinkling [of your clothes] as well because it lubricates the fibers," says Mary Johnson, fabric care principal scientist for Tide and Downy. Static cling is also less of a problem with your laundry load with the use of fabric conditioner, according to Johnson. So adding this quick, easy step to your laundry process not only provides softness (and a scent boost, if desired) but can also save you time, energy and money in the long run. No more ironing, if you're lucky!
2. The dirtiest parts of your clothes are on the insides of them. According to Johnson and the rest of the 825 scientists that P & G employ for research, 70 percent of soil is invisible – and most of it comes from your body. And that undetectable bodily dirt attracts other dirt. So even if you can't see or smell that your clothes need washing, it's probably time to throw in a load of laundry. Johnson also debunked the "freezing jeans" myth. Freezing simply doesn't work to get jeans clean because bacteria (that's likely from your skin in the first place) can often adapt to and withstand super low temperatures. As for how often to wash certain items, underwear and socks shouldn't be worn more than once, Johnson says, but bras can go two or three wears before they need refreshing in the wash.
3. Your water can actually damage your clothes. Think about what your bathing suit looks like after a summer of swimming in a chlorine pool – faded and worn. Lots of wash water actually contains chlorine as well. So if you want to prevent your clothes' colors from from shifting and fading in the laundry, you need a detergent like Tide that's formulated with the chemistry to actually grab chlorine out of the wash water – because who has the time or energy to filter wash water, right? Just food for thought.