Living Smart: Come clean on these common washing machine mistakes

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Unless you possess a never-ending supply of money and never wear the same outfit twice, laundry is an essential part of life. While the sudsy concept may seem simple enough, some of us make small mistakes that may hurt the washing machine over time. Prevent premature calls to appliance repair technicians by avoiding these user errors.

Not emptying your pockets

Think that destroyed $20 bill is the only reason itís a bad idea not to empty your pockets before doing laundry? Think again. Non-clothing objects in the washer can clog the water drain. Accidentally leave a piece of gum or tissue behind, and youíll have twice the mess to clean, not to mention the damage it can do to the inner workings of the washer.

Overloading washer

While you may think jamming just one more pair of jeans in with that full load wonít hurt anything, overstuffing your washer makes the machine work too hard.

Overloading the washer puts unnecessary wear on it and eats up energy. In top-loading machines, the central agitator needs room to do its job. Plus, if you pack too many clothes into the machine, some detergent residue could be left behind ó which will attract more dirt next time you wear the clothes.

Forgetting to clean out dispensers

When youíre finished washing a load of laundry, wipe down the detergent and fabric softener dispensers. If you donít, the build-up could cause a clog.

Using too much detergent

More is not always better. Not only will using excess soap leave your clothes sudsy and stiff, it will also wear on your machine. Plus, using too much soap leads to more suds, which could cause your washer to overflow. Have a high efficiency washer? They require even less soap to wash clothing properly, so be sure to skimp on the detergent and only use soaps marked safe for HE washers.

Not taking clothes out right away

Forgetting your clothes in the washing machine overnight or waiting a while to transfer them to the dryer or line may seem harmless, but lingering moisture provides the ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow and will lead to a foul-smelling machine and laundry. Itís also a good idea to leave the washer lid open after you unload it, so the inside can dry out.