How to Use a Washing Machine

Written by: Jamie

Updated on: February 28, 2020

If you’re a young reader and just been added to the chores list at home or have just left the nest to go to university, then you need to know how to use a washer!

confused man using washing machine

There’s a reason they say the best years of your life are when you’re a kid. There are no finances to sort, no dishes to do, no groceries to get and you certainly wouldn’t be trusted with washing the family’s expensive clothes.

Yet, that phase of life soon vanishes and all of a sudden we’re confronted with the real world. Here, we’re going to focus on how to do the laundry and give you all the details on how to use the washing machine.

You may be a young member of our readership who has suddenly found their name on the chores rota stuck to the fridge – you were only getting up for ice cream – or you may have just headed off to university and have some knowledge gaps you don’t want your new peers to find out about.

From young kids to aliens just arriving from Pluto, whatever your reason for joining us here, we will walk you through exactly how to operate a washing machine.

Buy Detergent and Softener

Step one lets you escape the other house chores because you need to head to the supermarket and buy detergent and softener. The detergent will clean your clothes, keep them smelling fresh and remove stubborn stains, while the softener will keep your garments nice and soft. Remember to buy products for your type of machine. Some products are made for top loaders while others are for front loaders.

laundry detergent

A top loader is a washing machine that has its door on the top of the machine – just as the name suggests. And, you guessed it; a front loader machine is a model with a door on the side of the machine. The door is usually circular.

You also need to pick up a washing basket while you’re there. Having a basket to carry your dirty and damp clothes is a real convenience.

Recommended: Are Panda portable washers worth all the hype?

Sort Your Clothes

Unless you want to mix your colors and leave the house looking like a marshmallow, you will need to sort your dirty clothes. Keep your bights away from your whites and also have a pile just for dark clothes.

You also need to sort your clothes by their material because different materials need to be washed at different intensities. If you’re unsure about an item, check its label for guidance. Some thicker clothes and blankets may need a bigger launderette-sized machine or even need to go to a dry cleaner.

loading a washing machine

Place them in the Washing Machine

Hold on, not like that! Don’t just shove your clothes in the machine!

Make sure your socks have been rolled out to give them a real clean and it’s sometimes a good idea to wash denim items inside-out to preserve their design. Delicates should be placed inside a delicates bag or even a pillowcase to protect them. Don’t overfill the machine or it won’t spin the clothes around properly and get them really clean.

Recommended Reading: Don’t miss our ultimate guide to the top portable washing machines of the year!

Add Detergent and Softener

Now it’s time to add your detergent and softener. Look at the packaging to find out the right amount needed per load and place it in the correct compartment – if not placed directly on top of the clothes. If you’re adding it to a detergent drawer then look out for little signs to direct you.

overflowing washing machine

Choose a Setting

Choosing a setting is very important because there are normally a lot of them. Thankfully, the names of the setting spell out what they’re used for, i.e. delicates go on the delicate setting, the wool goes on the wool setting etc… Here are some more top tips for this step:

  • If there are no delicates setting then put them on a low temperature on a slow cycle
  • Heavy and thick clothes may need an extra soak and a faster cycle
  • Everyday clothes should be washed at 30 or 40 degrees to be considerate of the environment
  • Check the tag of your clothes if unsure
  • Treat wool clothes like delicates if there is no specific cycle setting for wools
  • Also, help the environment with an eco-spin if available. It uses much less water!
  • Use a delayed start option if going out for a few hours after starting the machine (see the final step for details)

woman filling a washing machine

Watch it Spin

… or start the dishes, clean the kitchen or make your bed? Welcome to life!

Recommended Next: How do Haier washing machines stack up against the competition? Find out in our latest article.

The End of the Cycle

Hooray! You’ve now done your laundry! Well, almost. Just one more step left.

It’s really important that you don’t stop your machine before the cycle finishes. This is more possible with top loader designs because front loaders are normally locked to avoid turning your utility room into a swimming pool. Unloading too early will usually mean pulling out soaked clothes. Most cycles end with a rinsing cycle to make your wet clothes just a little damp. This makes them dry quicker.

It’s also important to not leave your clothes in the laundry once they are clean. Leaving damp clothes together can quickly grow mold and will make them smell weird. That summer-breeze-and-peach-aroma conundrum in the supermarket aisle quickly becomes a pointless decision if you’re willing to let your clothes sit together and stew in their dampness.

Dry Your Clothes

Now is the time to put your clean clothes in your basket and head on out to the washing line. Hanging them out to dry on an outdoor or indoor line is an environmentally-friendly decision. If you need to use the dryer, so be it. Many washing machines can also function as dryers so check the model you’re using to see if it has a drying function.

So, that’s how to use a washing machine! Now once your clothes are dry you just have to iron them, fold them neatly and hang them in your closet. Unfortunately, there’s no app for that!

About the Author Jamie

I'm an English teacher and writer. I'm passionate about the environment and love the tiny house movement!

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