GREENSBORO, N.C. — Hot water accounts for about 90% of a washing machine’s energy. We’ve been conditioned to think that everything needs to be sanitized and washed in the hottest water. Lesson #1: Don't use hot water to wash everything.
Consumer Reports tests have found that detergents nowadays are much better at removing dirt and stains at lower temperatures. So reserve the hot water for tackling oily stains or for washing the sheets and towels of a family member who’s sick. For everything else, check the care label and opt for cold water when you can.
Lesson #2: Less is more! Never overload your washer. It can damage the machine and it won’t clean as well if it’s packed to the gills. The same is true when it comes to detergent.
"Many people are under the false impression that more detergent will get your clothes cleaner. But too much detergent is bad for the environment can leave more residue on your clothes," says Keith Flamer, Consumer Reports Home Editor.
And finally, you’ve heard it before but Lesson #3 bears repeating: Keep your laundry separated! Mixing loads on most cycles causes more fabric friction, which can shorten the life span of your clothes.
"Choosing the right cycle helps preserve your clothes, too. Many people rely on the normal cycle, but take a look at your owner’s manual to find the best options for the clothes and fabrics you’re going to wash," said Flamer.
And check out this video that breaks down some common washing machine cycles.