Washing machine mistakes – 5 common trip-ups make laundry day harder

These five washing machine mistakes make your laundry day harder – and may even be damaging your machine

laundry room with open shelving
(Image credit: Nick Sargent / HW Interiors)

Washing machines may seem straightforward once you have a grasp of the initial controls. 

However, getting too comfortable with standard settings can lead to some washing machine mistakes that can end up damaging our machines. 

Between washing machine placement mistakes and doing laundry incorrectly, there are at least five mistakes you are likely making when it comes to laundry day. 

Washing machine mistakes

Here, laundry and appliance experts have shared what you need to avoid when it comes to your washing machine – and why it makes all the difference.

Because it turns out there is more to getting your laundry done right than knowing which mistakes to avoid when washing whites, or which bedding laundry mistakes you must avoid

Industville Sleek Edison Wall Light - Brass image – a neutral laundry room with green and white wallpaper, and an entryway bench to the left

(Image credit: Industville)

1. Overloading a washing machine

There are several laundry hacks to save time that experts rely on to get their job done more efficiently, but overloading your machine and doing everything at once is not one of them, warns Haven Polich, product manager at ASKO Appliances:

‘In typical U.S. washing machines, items need space to tumble around in the machine, so when you overload it, your items aren’t getting properly cleaned,’ she explains. ‘To fix this mistake, it’s best to either put in smaller loads at a time or invest in a washing machine that can handle large loads. This is especially important when washing comforters and bedding. Keep in mind that a smaller exterior size doesn’t always mean lower capacity, be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions.’

Haven Polich
Haven Polich

Haven has worked in the luxury appliance industry for the past eight years and has a passion for emerging technologies and products for the Smart Home.

2. Closing the door as soon as you unload

One of the most common washing machine mistakes people make regularly is closing the washing machine door as soon as you unload your freshly washed items, reveals Angela Rubin, cleaning expert and owner of Hellamaid. Leaving the door closed can contribute to mold and bacteria growth, causing a musty odor, unclean clothes, and making it harder to clean a washing machine, Angela explains. 

‘After each wash, leave the washing machine door ajar to allow air circulation. This helps prevent mold growth and maintains a fresh-smelling machine. Additionally, periodically clean the rubber gasket and detergent drawer to remove any trapped residue.’ A clean and mold-free washing machine will also keep your laundry area smelling fresh.

Angela Rubin
Angela Rubin

Hellamaid is an award-winning cleaning company in Canada that's been featured on multiple global media brands. 

3. Sticking to one setting for everything

Washing machines have so many different settings that many of us find one that works and stick with it for everything. While this might not immediately damage our clothing, working in this way will eventually wear them down – even in the best washing machine

Appliance expert Haven Polich continues: ‘Most washing machines these days offer a variety of cycle programs and settings, such as permanent press, bulky, delicate, etc. Using the right programs and settings can help prolong the life of your items, but people often make the mistake of using the wrong settings. 

‘To take better care of your clothes, it’s recommended to look at the care tag and laundry symbols on each item to make sure you’re using the proper temperature and program.’

4. Not cleaning your washing machine enough

Despite washing machines using soap every cycle, they get incredibly dirty very quickly. Many of us don’t actually know how often you should clean a washing machine, meaning we usually don’t clean them enough, says Ron Shimek, appliance expert and president at Mr. Appliance:

‘Homeowners should aim to clean their washing machine once a month to prevent mold, mildew, and detergent buildup. You can usually tell if your washing machine needs cleaning if there's a musty smell, visible mold, detergent residue, or if the clothes aren't coming out as clean or fresh smelling as usual.’

To make cleaning a washer simpler, you can clean with white vinegar and run a hot cycle to help kill mold and bacteria throughout your machine. Finish up by wiping out the drum with a damp clean cloth and allowing it to sit open to air dry.  

5. Putting your machine in the wrong spot

It can be hard to find the perfect spot for your washing machine if you don’t have a laundry room. Even if you are tight on space, it is vital you put your machine in a space with an even floor that isn’t subject to frequent temperature fluctuations, continues appliance expert Ron Shimek.

‘Washing machines should ideally be placed on a solid, level surface with enough space for proper ventilation,’ he says. They shouldn't be placed in unheated areas or directly exposed to harsh weather conditions like extreme heat or cold, so basements and garages are usually out of the question.’ 


Why is my washing machine not washing things properly?

If your laundry is coming out of your washing machine dirty, it can be for a few reasons. Firstly, it may be that you are overloading your washing machine, making it harder for water and detergent to penetrate all areas of the fabric. It may also be that you are using the wrong detergent, or the wrong amount – too much or too little can both contribute to an uneven wash. Finally, it may be that your washing machine itself is dirty. Using dirty tools to clean dirty items doesn't do much except move dirt around.  

Should you let your washing machine rest between washes?

Even when you have a lot of laundry to get through, it is important to leave your washing machine to rest between uses. Using your washing machine continuously, one wash after another can wear down the components, shortening the lifespan of your machine and possibly causing a mechanical failure.

Although paying more attention to your washing machine and how you use it may seem like too much effort, there are several organizing tricks to make laundry easier that will make the process simple again.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.