Cloth diapering has taught me a lot, but the one thing it has taught me most in a big time way, is that we've all been doing laundry incorrectly. I debated whether or not to make this a blog post, but I thought, sharing is caring and maybe someone will find this information helpful. And as one of the pillars of The Jawesome Life is sharing information in case it's helpful to someone, I figured that makes it an appropriate blog post. So hopefully you'll find this information useful, or maybe you'll read this and say, I've been doing laundry practically my whole life, even if it's wrong, it's not bothering me so bugger off, Justine!
To be fair, if it weren't for cloth diapers and needing to wash multilayered fabric that catches my baby's pee and poo, I probably wouldn't be so bothered by how incorrectly we've all been washing ours clothes and treating our washing machines. I'm not going to tell you how to do your laundry, because that all depends on your water hardness, type of machine you have, detergent you use, and what you're washing. But there are two things that you are likely doing or not doing that is preventing you from really getting your clothing, sheets, towels, and anything else you wash in your washing machine clean.
Clean your machine at least every 30 days.
Have you ever read your washer manual. I'm sure some of you have. But did you know you're supposed to clean it every 30 days at a minimum? Our machine has a self-cleaning cycle and requires a bit of bleach for this process, so it's not too difficult. I'd recommend checking your manual and finding the cleaning and maintenance instructions. Cleaning your machine regularly is important to remove any detergent build-up you may have in your machine, and keeps your machine healthy. I'm really not an expert so I won't get into all the reasons it's important to clean your machine, but you can google it. Make sure to clean your filter, too! That thing can get nasty! If you do a lot of laundry in your home, then you may want to clean your machine more often than 30 days. The funny thing is, when I mentioned this to my dad, he seemed to already be aware that we should be cleaning our washing machines every 30 days, but that last time he did it was six months ago, and that may have been the first time I had ever heard anyone mention cleaning the machine. So, maybe you're like my dad and you know this already, but aren't doing it. There's nothing like washing cloth diapers to get you really on top of taking care of your washing machine. Still, I recommend following this guideline, because it's like taking your car in for wash and tune up. Things break down when we don't properly care for them. By the way, when you clean your machine, I would check the machine for suds in the washer during the rinse cycle. If you have suds in the rinse cycle, then you still have some detergent build-up and will need to run some empty hot washes to remove it. Depending on your machine and water hardness, it may take a few times.
You're using too much detergent.
I mentioned detergent build-up in your machine, I'm sure you have it in your clothes, too. Prior to discovering detergent build-up in our cloth diapers, while I followed instructions on how to clean our cloth diapers and how much detergent to use, for the rest of our laundry I was still arbitrarily measuring detergent whenever I did a load. For most loads, I'd fill up the detergent container in the machine rack up to the "Normal" line. If a load was particularly dirty, I'd add more. And that is probably where we all go wrong. It seems counter intuitive, but more detergent does not mean cleaner clothing. In fact, that will actually back fire on you, because you'll then get detergent build-up in your clothes and machine, which won't allow for proper agitation, which means your clothes aren't actually getting clean. Note that instructions on your detergent bottle or box are general guidelines, but it's important to take into consideration your water hardness and machine type, too. If you have soft water, that requires less detergent. High Efficiency (HE) machines also require less detergent, especially front loading machines. And certain detergents tend to be more sudsy than others. Perfecting your laundry routine could actually take some trial and error. That being said, maybe it's not a big deal to perfect your wash routine unless you're washing cloth diapers or other super heavily soiled clothing.
And that's all folks! Well, that's all I'm going to say on this topic for now. I can't promise I won't ever talk about laundry here again or not. So, clean your washing machine every 30 days or more if appropriate, and USE LESS DETERGENT. It'll save you a pretty penny and actually get your clothes clean :D.