Washing machine in operation

How to Use a Washing Machine

In this comprehensive guide from Tide on washing machine basics, you'll learn everything you need for optimal laundry results.

Gone are the days of throwing your laundry into a machine with incorrectly measured detergent and choosing your cycle at random. Learn how to load a washer effectively, how to dose correctly based on your load size, how to use your machine to save energy, and even machine maintenance.

Washing Machine Tips & Advice

How to Use a Washer – Step-by-Step Guide

Washing machines may look like magic – in goes your dirty laundry, and out comes your fresh-smelling, impeccably clean clothes – but in reality, they’re just very convenient and easy-to-use household appliances. To achieve the desired cleanliness and to care for your clothes properly, it’s essential that you know how to use your laundry machine correctly. Operating it can seem tricky at first, what with all the buttons and cryptic icons, but with Tide’s help, you can master the art of using a washing machine in no time! Here’s the perfect laundry routine in seven simple steps.

How to Use a Washer – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1. Separate Your Laundry

Sorting your laundry into different piles based on fabric type and color is step number one. You should also check the care label of each garment for washing instructions, so as to avoid damaging your fabrics. Make sure to pay extra attention to your more delicate items: You should wash them either by hand, or on the delicate cycle and in a mesh bag.

Step 2. Choose the Right Washing Cycle

Wash cycles consist of two important speeds: A speed at which it agitates or tumbles your clothes with water, and a speed that spins the water out of your clothes. Once again, when picking the correct washing cycle, you should refer to your garments’ fabric care label. This way, you can maximize cleanliness while also protecting your clothes. Your options range from normal and permanent press to delicate and quick cycles.

Step 3. Set the Water Temperature

Using the correct water setting in your washer can make a world of difference in your laundry. Hot water, for instance, sanitizes and kills germs better, but in some cases, it can shrink your clothes, fade your fabrics, set certain stains, and requires a lot more energy. So, reserve hot water washes for bath and kitchen towels, bedding, sturdy fabrics and any extremely dirtied items. For moderately dirty loads, dark colors, and the permanent press cycle, use warm water. Last but not least, use cold water in the delicate cycle for delicate items, fabrics that have dyes that might bleed, or clothes that aren’t especially dirty. Coldwater is the gentlest way of washing your garments, and it also requires less energy, so you can save energy and protect the environment.

Designed to deliver outstanding stain removal in all water conditions, Tide laundry detergents offer an effective cold water clean even for dirty items.

Step 4. Add Detergent and Fabric Softener

Before adding your choice of detergent and fabric softener, make sure you read your washer’s manual to find out which goes where. The amount of detergent needed varies by load size and washing machine type, so check the back of the detergent box and look for any labels on your washing machine to find out how much you should use, as too much laundry detergent might cause problems.

Alternatively, you can just pop a pac of Tide PODS in your empty washing machine drum and move on to the next step!

Step 5. Load the Washing Machine

This is the step where you dump your clothes into your washer. Make sure not to overcrowd your clothes as overloading the machine may result in the clothes not being washed as they should be. Also, incorrect amounts can cause operational problems and damage.

  • Small loads: ⅓ of the drum

  • Medium loads: ½ of the drum

  • Large loads: ¾ of the drum

Step 6. Turn on the Washer

Just close the door and hit the Start button. Some washing machines can indicate that the door isn’t closed properly, while some can’t. Always remember to check before starting to avoid accidents!

Leave your washing machine door open after use to allow it to air out and help prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Step 7. Clean Your Washing Machine

Regular cleaning with a washing machine cleaner is an important part of knowing how to use washing machines, after all, your washing machine won’t be able to do its job efficiently if it’s not clean itself.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Washing Machine

Besides overloading your machine and using too much detergent, there are some common mistakes you should avoid when doing laundry.

  1. Don’t leave anything in pockets. Check all pockets before washing for things like tissues or coins. These things can damage your clothes and/or your washing machine.

  2. Don’t put fabric softener directly on top of your laundry. Fabric softener should never come in direct contact with clothes as it could stain them. Consult your washing machine manual and find the correct compartment in the detergent drawer for the softener to be placed in – it’s usually marked with a flower.

  3. Don’t leave wet clothes in the drum for a long time. Moisture from wet clothes could result in a build-up of mold in your washing machine drum, or even on your clothes. Remove clothes from the washer as soon as possible after the rinse cycle is finished.

  4. If your washing machine is broken, don’t try to fix it yourself. Minor washing machine problems, such as a blocked water pipe, may be something you can tackle yourself with a little help from your washing machine manual. More serious problems; however, especially anything related to the plumbing or electrics of your machine, should always be directed to a professional.

Eliminate odorsLearn more