The Craziest (Wrong) Myths About Cleaning Clothes

There are a lot of great techniques for fighting stains and prolonging the lifespan of our favorite fashions floating around, but there also a load of false rumors about clothing care that still haven’t been completely scrubbed. To help you separate fact from fiction and keep your clean routine from being muddied by bad myths, here’s a breakdown of some of the most misleading laundry tips that need to be hung out to dry once and for all.

Freezing jeans?!

Throwing your jeans in the freezer won’t rid them of every bacteria, despite this weird old wives tale. Science has thoroughly given the cold shoulder to this urban legend.

Extra detergent gets clothes cleaner.

Nope. Not only is this myth a blight on the environment due to waste, but it’s also useless and not cost effective. Using just one round of the recommended amount of detergent will give you all the cleaning power you need (unless there are major stains involved, in which case a little pre-treatment should do the trick).

Dry cleaning is actually dry.

Not true. Dry cleaners actually use liquid solvents and machinery that bears similar resemblance to our own at-home machines. In fact, a lot of garments like sweaters and skirts don’t have to be sent out to get cleaned and can be hand-washed at home instead. Huzzah!

Freezing out the cold rinse?

A lot of people default to using the hot water option on washers (and, as anyone who’s tried to take a simultaneous shower while a load’s going knows, the results of that water heater depletion can be icy). In reality, though, the only time you really need to have the cycle’s temp up is when you’re washing soiled fabrics, like bedding and gym clothes. Turning the knob to cold rinse is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, too!

The dryer’s heat will always shrink your clothes.

If you’re working with shrinkable materials, there’s a way to make sure your clothes don’t come out two sizes too small, and that’s by pulling the items out of the dryer just before the cycle is complete. It’s not the heat that’ll shrink the fabrics; it’s the dryness, so swiping those garbs before the big finish will help avoid a micro-fit mess.

Hairspray takes out ink stains.

Once upon a time, this one was actually true, and spraying alcohol-based hairspray on ink splotches could help get them out. Nowadays, though, sprays aren’t made the same way and can actually double up the dose of stains if applied to fabrics, so steer clear of this faux life hack.

Bleach and detergent go hand in hand.

It might seem like a good idea to throw both your bleach and detergent in at the same time before a cycle, but actually, you should give it about five minutes before you put the bleach in because it counteracts the enzymes in detergent and prevents them from properly cleaning the garments.

Salt water prevents color bleeds.

Not all materials are created equally, so sometimes a fabric might run in the wash. It’s a groan-inducing reality, but soaking the clothes in salt water isn’t going to stop it from happening, sorry.

Coffee and tea keeps black clothes intact.

Unfortunately, this one is also untrue. This supposed trick might give you a little jolt just from the cafe smell achieved by tossing in a scoop of grounds, but it’s not going to darken your threads.

    Washing machines are self-cleaning.

    You might think your washing machine is giving itself a healthy scrub every time it runs a load, but in reality, it might be storing up a lot of bacteria along the way and needs to be cleaned, just like every other appliance in the house.

    Dry cleaning bags are a good long-term storage option.

    Your fancier frocks might look nice and tidy tucked away in those bags, but in reality, this just traps the material and can cause oxidation and discoloration of the fibers -- the complete opposite effect of what you're going for.