8 Laundry Myths Debunked

A woman doing laundry looks confused.

There are plenty of laundry tips and tricks that claim to make washing your clothes easier and/or more effective, but not all of them are based on science. Here are eight of the most popular laundry myths debunked.

1. Washing Kills Germs

A lot of people wrongly believe that washing clothes in hot water will kill germs. Although this would be nice, the water is not hot enough to kill most germs. Instead, any germs on the clothes are likely to spread to other items, which only makes the problem worse. The best way to kill germs in the laundry is to use a disinfectant.

2. More Detergent = Cleaner Clothes

Most people think using more laundry detergent will result in cleaner clothes. Not only is this untrue, but adding too much detergent can harm clothes and damage your washing machine. Any detergent that does not dissolve in the wash ends up on your clothes, which is not good for the materials or your skin. Excess detergent can also build up in your washing machine, reducing its effectiveness and longevity.

Blue detergent bottles with red caps.

3. You Should Wash Jeans Frequently

Washing jeans on a frequent basis is not recommended. Jeans are made of sturdy materials and you can wear them several times before a wash. If you have raw denim, washing them too much can loosen the fibers and wear them out. Washing jeans less will also help them last longer and preserve their original color.

4. Washers Eat Socks

The sock monster is one of the most frustrating things about doing laundry—but there may be some truth to the myth. Socks that magically disappear between the washing machine and the dryer typically get caught in places like the rubber seal or between the drums, if you have a top-loading machine. You should also look for lost socks underneath the washer or dryer, as they can easily get misplaced there as well.

5. Dryers Shrink Clothes

Accidentally shrinking your clothes is the worst. But the next time you shrink your favorite t-shirt, don’t blame the dryer. Shrinking actually happens more often during the washing cycle. In fact, the dryer acts more like an iron and stretches out clothes rather than shrinking them. This is why it's important to always read the labels on your clothes and make sure they can handle hot water.

woman with shrunken shirt

6. Machines Can’t Do Hand Wash

It is true that you should avoid putting some clothes in a washing machine, but most items designated as "hand wash only" are fine to throw in your machine—as long as you are careful about it. When washing these items, select the most delicate setting on your washing machine (if possible, turn off the spin cycle). You can also place these items in a mesh bag to prevent them from getting tangled in the wash.

7. Always Use Fabric Softener

Fabric softener is good to use in certain situations, but it is not always a necessity. Softeners can help make your clothes and other materials extra fluffy, which is good for some things, like blankets and bedding, but bad for others. Specifically, you should avoid using softeners when washing towels as it can actually prevent the material from absorbing water.

8. Fight Stains With Hairspray (And Other Methods)

This is one of the oldest myths in the laundry world and dates back to the 1950s. Most people try to use hairspray to remove ink stains, which simply does not work. Hairspray can make things worse and spread the ink out. Club soda is also rumored to be a stain-fighting agent, which is also untrue. Using club soda on a food stain can set it permanently.

Instead of using hairspray or club soda, try blotting the stain with some water. You should also attack the stain inside-out first. If that does not work, you may have to turn to a chemical alternative, like a stain pen.