Sure, you've been accomplishing laundry for years — but are you accomplishing it correctly? Try these strategies for altogether apple-pie clothes every time.
Reduce your load size.
Cramming the tub isn't a shortcut — clothes need to move to get clean! Adjust the water level (newer models automatically do this) and drying time, and if your washer and dryer have different capacities, go for the smaller volume.
Use the presoak cycle.
This setting agitates the contents and may dispense detergent before starting the main cycle, so extra-dirty loads get cleaner without going through twice.
Add bleach yourself.
Don't have a timed bleach dispenser, but want its extra cleaning power? Add chlorine bleach (as long as it's safe for your fabrics) to the load five minutes after the cycle starts (earlier, and it will kill stain-fighting enzymes in the detergent).
Pick the right detergent.
Use only products with the "HE" logo in high-efficiency machines. Regular cleaners can generate too many suds, damaging these appliances.
Clean the machine.
Select the largest load size, fill the tub with hot water and a cup of bleach and run a cycle (on a newer machine, just select the self-cleaning cycle). Remove dispensers and drawers and rinse under hot water, brushing off residue.