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So you’ve purchased a new washing machine. I tend to look at my washing machine with great respect and, as an investment. We’ve all put the new red sock in with the hot wash. Luckily it was at a time when pink business shirts were fashionable. After years of untimely laundry mistakes I have learnt a few lessons.

Firstly, don’t tell everyone “I’m not the slave, check your own pockets” because eventually you will be the one doing the Hazmat clean up. Check the pockets and pat yourself on the back when you find a wayward tissue, a pen, a glue stick, a lip balm. Trouser all notes and tell no one.

Secondly. Immediately wash a single new garment on its own in a cold wash. Yes that’s right. One single item in the washing machine. It goes against everything your mother told you however, it will set the colour in your new garment and will give some insurance against any other laundry catastrophe that lurks around the corner.

Wash lights and darks separately. I am older than I care to admit and I have only just enforced this rule. I always thought if I washed the lights and darks separately I’ll be waiting all week to gather a darks wash. Again, it doesn’t have to be a full wash, half a load is ok, just set your water level to medium.

So the respect is in the preparation of the clothes, ready to be washed. The investment is in the time and money saved when you don’t ruin a new garment and the longevity you get out of clothes when they are washed properly.

Setting up

When you get your new machine home there are some maintenance issues that need attention before you put your first load on. Remove all foam and packaging from the machine. Front loaders come with transit bolts. These are designed to keep the drum in place while the machine is in transit. It is imperative you remove these bolts from the back of the machine before using otherwise your machine could be badly damaged and will not be covered by warranty. To remove them you will need a spanner or a socket, sometimes supplied with the machine. Locate each separate bolt heads and unwind in an anticlockwise direction. Your user manual will show you how to do this. The instruction manual and water hose will probably be in the drum of the appliance. Remove these. Rock the inner drum to make sure there is free movement and give the drum a spin to make sure it turns freely. Also refer to the instruction manual for installation of the hose. This may require a plumber to effectively connect.

Run a regular wash cycle without any garments in the machine first. No detergent is required.

If you are concerned about marks on the floor, especially wooden, you will be able to purchase a washing machine stand. Ask you washing machine expert to assist.

Which program to use

This will depend on what machine you have as to what programs it offers. Recently though, cycles have been getting slightly longer. This is for good reason. With up to date technology comes better design. The reason for longer cycles is they save on energy and water and also give your clothes an excellent clean.

Here are the general settings that most machines display:

Pre wash

This is a wash for heavily soiled garments and will help with a presoak to try to budge some of those stubborn stains.


This setting as indicated, washes with hot water and is for lightly coloured garments only, mainly white. Any coloured garment in a hot wash will release the dye.


This setting as indicated runs cold water and is for dark garments as it sets the colour in place and there is no chance of it running and affecting other garments in the machine. This cycle will also stop the dark colours fading so quickly.


Woolens are washed at a cooler temperature to avoid shrinking.

Quick wash

This program is only for slightly soiled clothes and is shorter in duration.


This cycle treats your garments very gently. It will not agitate harshly nor spin rapidly so you garments will be a little wetter than normal when you pull them out but their shape should still be intact. This cycle can also be used for woolens. Consider placing garments in a laundry bag on this cycle to ensure minimal shape displacement.


This cycle is for heavily soiled garments and it will take longer. There will be an extra spin cycle to drain any extra water retained in the garments.


This is generally the cycle most commonly used. It is designed for mainly cotton items and gives an all-round good wash. The agitator will move vigorously and the spin will reach maximum speed.


This will give a rinse only cycle. This can sometimes be handy if people in the home have allergies or you have babies with sensitive skin. It will remove any extra remnants of detergent. Or you may just want to freshen a garment up that you want to wear again quickly.

How much detergent

Because there is less water in a front loader, you use less detergent. Use the detergent dispenser as this will release detergent slowly into the load. If you have to add the detergent yourself, make sure it’s no more than one teaspoon full. This will apply to softener as well.

Most will have 2 compartments. One for detergent and the other for softener. Some models may have 3 compartments and the third is for prewashing. If you are not washing on the prewash cycle, do not add any detergent to the prewash compartment. Never open the detergent drawers after the load has started.

Read your instructions manual for this important information and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Most detergent compartments will display a line denoting the maximum detergent allowed.

Buy front load specific detergent. Some top load formulas will create too many suds for a front loader and you will risk overflow or damage to electrics.

The machine will have a dispenser drawer near the top of the machine. It is a good idea to give this a wipe out or remove completely if possible to remove an old or built up detergent that may affect the wash or contribute to a blockage in the machine.

Should you use softener?

Fabric softener works well at softening garments and sheets and reducing static.

Avoid putting softener in with microfibre clothes. It destroys the effectiveness and durability of the fibres.

Avoid using it with sporting garments which may have anti sweat technology. It will form a coating that will damage the anti-sweat function of the garment.

Avoid using it with flammable garments. Washing your kid’s pajamas and nightwear in softener will make them more flammable.

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