Always respect the rules and instructions provided by the symbols on the clothing labels is certainly a good starting point, but it does not necessarily guarantee perfect laundry. The latest models of washing machines now have a wide range of programs to wash and treat fabrics while maintaining their quality. But how do you find the right program for each fabric? And what is the most suitable detergent to use depending on the garment?
In this article we will introduce you to the most common washing programs found on most washing machines, and we will recommend the ones to be used according to the different types of fabrics. We will also give you a few tips to orientate yourself in the jungle of washing machine products. Whether powder or liquid detergents, for delicate and colourful clothes, with or without fabric softener – this is a step-by-step guide to choosing the most suitable product for your laundry.
An overview of the main washing machine programmes
The washing machine undoubtedly facilitates and speeds up the washing and care of clothes and textiles in general. The new models usually provide a wide range of programs to wash almost all types of fabrics, fabrics and fibres. The question therefore arises as to whether all these programs are really necessary for everyday laundry.
In general, you should bear in mind that each program is divided into three different phases. First the garments are washed, then rinsed and, finally, centrifuged. The individual washing programs differ fundamentally in the duration of the washing phase, the water temperature, the maximum recommended load and the drum rotation speed.
Standard washing machine programs
Some programs can be found on practically all washing machine models, regardless of the manufacturer. These are so-called standard programs. The first step to having a perfect wash is to learn how to correctly interpret the instructions on the washing machine.
If the clothes you want to wash are particularly dirty, it is advisable to do a pre-wash. This preliminary stage consists of soaking the laundry and removing the bulk of the dirt. Remember that the pre-wash only requires a quarter of the detergent usually used for other programmes. For most washing machines, the pre-wash can be combined directly with other standard programmes, such as colour wash or 90° wash, but also with programmes for delicates and silk. The pre-wash program is also suitable for large fabrics, such as curtains and drapes.
Program for coloured fabrics
As the name says, this program is specific for colored fabrics, especially for everyday clothes that inevitably accumulate day after day in the dirty laundry basket. To prevent these garments from losing colour, it is advisable to wash the colours at a maximum temperature of 60 degrees.
Program for 90° washing
This programme is particularly suitable for fabrics which are not sensitive to high temperatures, such as cotton. Thanks to the high temperature (which can be as high as 95 degrees), it is possible to eliminate most germs and bacteria from the fabrics and thus achieve perfect whiteness. However, we recommend that you limit the use of this programme to washing children’s clothing, towels, cotton sheets or work clothes.
Program for synthetic fabrics
The term “synthetic” refers to all artificial fibres, such as nylon, polyester or mixed fabrics. This program usually reaches a maximum temperature of 60 degrees and is ideal for washing shirts and blouses that are used for everyday clothing. To prevent these garments from creasing after washing, do not fill the washing machine basket completely, but load it only halfway, so that the spin speed is as low as possible.
The delicate program is suitable for the most sensitive fibers, such as silk, satin or lace. To protect the quality of these fabrics it is important to select a low temperature washing program (maximum 40 degrees), wash with plenty of water and at the end have a reduced spin speed. For this reason, remember not to overload the washing machine .
Programs for wool and hand washing
Before putting your beloved wool sweater in the washing machine drum, always check that it has the “pure virgin wool” symbol on the label. Only if this symbol is present you can wash the sweater with the wool program. Not all washing machines have a specific wool program and, alternatively, it is recommended to use a hand wash program. On some washing machines these two programs are combined. Also in this case the washing machine should never be loaded too much, the water temperature must not be higher than 30 degrees and the spin speed must be as low as possible. This program is also perfect for washing lace and underwear.
In addition to the standard programs that are now present on all models of washing machines, there is still a wide range of more specific programs, which can make washing easier for you and improve the results of your laundry. However, these programs vary from model to model.
In the “spin” mode the clothes are spun again after the washing phase. You can also select this program when you need your clothes to dry faster, and if they are clothes that don’t tend to wrinkle too much.
Even with this program, as for the normal spin cycle, the clothes are spun separately. In this case, however, the centrifuge runs more slowly. This program is particularly recommended for wool.
To further protect very delicate fabrics, such as wool or silk, you can eliminate the spin phase. The “water drain” program simply eliminates the water from the washing machine after washing, without spinning.
The quick program is ideal for quick washing or for lightly soiled items.
The eco program is designed for efficient but energy-saving washing. On many washing machines this mode can be activated in addition to all the other normal programs.
In addition to these, some models are equipped with additional specific programs, usually very intuitive and easy to use. For example, there are programs designed specifically for shirts, for sports or technical clothing, or for curtains and curtains. In order not to make mistakes, we advise you to consult the instruction manual of your washing machine, in order to check exactly which fabrics are suitable for each program indicated, the relative washing temperatures and how much to load the drum.
An overview of the different types of detergent and their use
If you want to preserve the quality of a garment for a long time, choosing the most suitable washing program is not enough, but it is also essential to pay attention to the detergent you use. Not all detergents are indicated, in fact, for every type of fabric. We illustrate below the different detergents available on the market and how to best use them.
Liquid or powder detergent?
There are 6 main types of detergents : liquid, powder, gel, pearl, capsule and tablet. In reality, however, when we talk about dust, tablets and pearls we refer to the same product, what changes is only the shape.
The choice between a liquid and a powder detergent basically depends on personal habits and preferences. The liquid detergents are easier to dose and leave no residue on clothes. For this reason, they are particularly suitable for washing dark-colored clothing. On the other hand, however, they have less cleaning power than powder detergents. In fact, liquid detergents do not contain bleach or other types of solvents, and therefore hardly eliminate stains from tea, fruit or particularly stubborn dirt. Furthermore, they are usually more harmful to the environment than those in powder form, because they contain higher percentages of surfactant.
The powder detergents have other features. For one thing, they usually contain fewer preservatives and stabilizers, and are able to eliminate almost all types of stains. However, they are only suitable for washing with temperatures above 40 ° (at lower temperatures they may not melt completely). A smaller amount is sufficient compared to liquid detergents, and they are also the most suitable choice for people with allergies. However, if you use an excessive amount of this type of detergent, you risk having residues on your clothes. For this reason, it is also important to remember to regularly clean the washing machine compartment where the powder detergent is placed.
Types of detergent according to use
In addition to the various forms in which they are available, detergents can also be distinguished on the basis of their use. There are universal detergents, others specific for delicates, for colors, or even designed specifically for particular fabrics. To correctly use a detergent, the sensitivity and characteristics of the fabric to be washed must be assessed, as well as the level of dirt that must be eliminated .
In reality, these detergents should only be used on insensitive fabrics and materials, such as cotton. A detergent for all types of laundry can be used at any temperature and can eliminate most stains. This is why it should never be missing from your home products. However, we must not forget that these detergents contain bleach, and are therefore not suitable for washing colored garments carried out at temperatures above 60 degrees .
The detergent for colors
Color detergent is also a component that should never be missing from your cleaning products. The substances normally contained in this type of detergent make them particularly recommended for washing colored fabrics. Another advantage is the possibility of doing laundry even at a temperature of 60 degrees.
Detergent for delicates
Delicate items, which therefore must be washed at low temperatures, obviously require a mild detergent. This type of detergent produces a very fine foam which protects the most sensitive fibers. This is the case, for example, of silk, which must never be washed at a temperature above 40 degrees.
In this category you will find all the detergents developed specifically for those fabrics that require special attention. There are therefore detergents for wool, down and technical clothing. Among these products are also sanitizing detergents, designed for underwear and towels. There are also ad hoc detergents for white or black clothes.
The fabric softener: when to use it?
On the shelves of supermarkets, next to a vast offer of liquid or powder detergents in various forms, there are also many types of fabric softener. The fabric softener is usually used to give more softness to washed items. Once dried, these are often hard and stiff to the touch. The fabric softener ensures that the fabric fibers remain soft. The substances contained in the fabric softener (usually esterquat) cover the fibers of the fabrics, creating a kind of film which, by adhering to the fibers, makes them smooth and soft.
However, this effect can also be counterproductive. For example, if you use fabric softener to wash your towels, they will certainly be very soft to the touch, but they will also lose their absorbency. For the same reason, many materials used for technical clothing, such as wool, feathers or fleece, should never be treated with fabric softener, because they would lose the function or characteristics that distinguish them.
Conclusions – Choose the right washing program and the most suitable detergent
Each washing machine is different and has its own range of washing programs to choose from. However, we must distinguish between the standard programs, suitable for everyday laundry, and the special programs, very useful to facilitate your work with more particular fibers. In addition to the type of washing, it is useful to also keep in mind the correct load for each type of program. While the 90 ° washable laundry tends to be quite resistant, it is important to wash the wool separately. Even in the choice of detergents some aspects must be carefully evaluated. For example, a detergent advertised as universal may not be suitable for colors, because it has too high concentrations of bleach.