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Your ultimate guide on how to wash clothes

Getting your clothes clean is much more difficult than chucking them in the washing machine and turning it on. From getting the most out of your washing machine cycles to choosing the right detergent, we’ve got lots of little wins to help you lighten the laundry load.

  • Rochelle - copywriter
  •  7min read
Your ultimate guide on how to wash clothes

Whizz through the washing

Getting to know your washing machine

Every washing load will need a different washing cycle and temperature. Get to know the different washing cycles on your own machine and check the labels of the clothes you’re washing to make sure you choose the correct cycle. Silk, wool and knits for example will need to go on a delicate wash, whilst polyester, jeans and jumpers are fine on an everyday synthetics wash. When it comes to choosing the right temperature, a 30°C wash or lower is great for lightly soiled clothes. Tougher stains and items such as towels and bedding will benefit from a hotter 60°C wash.

Your washing machine’s drawer should have 3 compartments, each marked with a different symbol:

  • 1 line is for the pre-wash drawer. This is only needed for really soiled clothes (if you don’t put anything in here, the machine will go straight to the main wash)
  • 2 lines is for the main wash section for your detergent
  • The flower symbol is your fabric conditioner drawer

Top tip: Regularly clean your washing machine to keep it running at its best and try not to overload the drum with too much washing.


There are so many different types of laundry detergents it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s a quick guide to the most common ones:

  • Detergents come in pods, capsules, tablets, powders, liquids and gels. If you’re always in a rush, pre-measured pods, capsules or tablets are the best option as you can just chuck them straight into the drum. Powders, liquids and gels go in the washing machine drawer and usually come with a measuring cup so you can get the dosage right.
  • There are generally 3 types of laundry detergents; bio, non-bio and colour protect:
  • Biological detergents contain enzymes that are more effective at breaking down stains. Biological detergents work at lower temperatures than non-bio detergents
  • Non-bio is better for little ones and those with sensitive skin as there are no enzymes. When using non-bio you’ll need to wash at a higher temperature if you have tough stains to allow the detergent to do its job properly
  • Colour protect detergents are specially designed to protect brightly coloured or printed clothes

Top tip: You can save money by washing at 20°C with wilko laundry gel, detergent and fabric conditioner.

Fabric conditioners

Fabric conditioners (or fabric softeners), usually come in liquid form. They’ll soften your clothes as well as fight stretching, fading and bobbling. They work really well on wool and other delicates. Avoid using on clothes that are labelled as flame-resistant and avoid using on towels as it can add a coating which makes them less useful when drying

Top tip: Change the fragrance of your fabric conditioner each time so you always notice that freshly washed smell!

Scent boosters

These clever little beads will add a great scent to your wash. They’re safe to use on all colours and fabrics. Simply add some into the washer drum before you wash.

Top tip: Match your scent booster to your fabric conditioner and washing detergent to double up the scent!

Love your laundry with even more little wins

  • Stain removers – it’s best to have these on hand for when you need them. They also come in a few different kinds; liquids, gels and powder
  • Whiteners – these are specifically designed to keep your white clothes white, and can fade other colours
  • Fabric fresheners – these clever little sprays can just freshen up your clothes, without a full wash – that’s a little win!

Make drying a doddle!

Whether you prefer tumble drying or line drying we’ve got lots of little wins to make your clothes drying a breeze!

  • If you’ve got a tumble dryer, stick a tumble dryer sheet into your next load. It’ll add more softness, freshness and static protection to your clothes
  • Prefer line drying? If the weather’s nice, nothing beats drying clothes outside. If you’re short on space, our retractable clothes lines are ideal. Simply fix to the wall and wind the line in when you’re done
  • Increase your drying space outdoors with a rotary clothes airer. We’ve got outdoor airers that give you up to a huge 60 metres of drying space
  • If you’ve no outdoor space, or it’s a dull day, an indoor airer will help you get all your clothes dry. If space is limited indoors, think outside the box with an over door drying rack or radiator airer
  • Don’t forget pegs. Opt for something study to get a good grip on your clothes so they don’t blow away!
  • Peg bags are handy to keep them all in one place
  • It’s also worth having some clothes hangers handy so you can pop them on the line along with your pegged washing - it can save on the ironing later!

Steam through the ironing

Steam ahead and make light work of that ever-growing ironing pile with these top tips:

  • Always make sure your ironing board is fitted with a good quality ironing board cover. It’ll protect your ironing board from the heat and steam of the iron and make sure your clothes are ironed smoothly
  • If you don’t tend to iron too many clothes, you might find a tabletop ironing board is more useful
  • If you’re tackling larger laundry piles and bedding, a steam generator iron might be a better option for getting through your clothes pile quicker

Top tip: Add some ironing water to your iron to help smooth away the creases more easily whilst leaving behind a fresh, longer lasting fragrance.

Steamers can also be used for lots of garments, from larger, thick jackets to more delicate items.

Time to get organised!

Now all the hard work’s done, you’ll want to keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean until they’re ready to wear. Here’s a few of our favourite clothes storage wins:

  • Keep moths away and absorb moisture by popping a set of cedar moth balls in your wardrobe
  • Hang clothes using velvet clothes hangers. They’ll help clothes keep their shape and they’re less likely to slip off the hanger too – that's a little win!
  • Struggling for wardrobe space? If your clothes are always getting squashed and creased, trying using our handy hangers for up to 80% extra space
  • Opt for a clothes rail – they’re great for creating extra organised space outside your wardrobe
  • Finished washing the last of the summer or winter clothing? Store out of season clothes in a vacuum sealed bag. They’ll keep clothes smelling fresh and give you extra wardrobe space too – that's a little win!
  • Get laundry baskets – they’re handy for popping the dirty clothes in and carrying it all to the washing machine

Find everything you need to love your laundry at wilko.com