1. You're not separating lights from darks. You know that extra tag that always comes on your dark washed jeans – the one that says something about the denim dye that you usually just throw away with the price tag? Next time, read it — it's got some important info on it. Basically what it says is that to get the super dark color you love, they have to add a lot of dye to your jeans. That means when you get them wet, some color might transfer to your other clothes during the washing process. Same goes for other darks and super bright colors. To keep your whites from becoming off-whites, or worse a totally different color, wash your darks only with other darks.
2. You always wash your clothes on hot. A lot of people think that the dryer is where all the action happens, but that's not true. Shrinkage can happen any time your clothes are exposed to high temperatures. So if you're washing your clothes on hot, you might notice they fit a little snugger afterward, even if you don't dry them. Always read the label and follow the temperature recommendations. Preserve your perfect fit by washing anything you're worried about shrinking on the cold setting, just to be safe.
3. You wash and dry your bras unprotected. Have you ever opened your dryer to find your bras/jeans/long sleeve shirts have knotted themselves together like some weird clothing octopus? That happens because the dryer is like the Wild West for your clothes. While they're tumbling with fury, bra hooks can snag on lace, mesh, artfully distressed jeans, thin cotton – basically everything you love. Keep your other clothes safe, and your bra hooks from bending by putting them in a laundry bag or a bra ball before you wash and dry.
4. You dry clean your vintage clothes. The older the vintage, the more delicate the clothing will be. So if you're looking to clean up the silk scarf your grandma gave you, try hand washing it yourself with water – only use soap if absolutely necessary. The chemicals used at the dry cleaners can break down the delicate fabrics of vintage clothing and cause your items to fall apart over time.
5. You dry everything. Here's a tip: check the tag before washing and if it's made of cotton, wool, or some other natural fiber, it's probably going to shrink when it's exposed to heat. If you want a snugger fit, dry it for sure, but if your tee has that perfect slouchy look, just lay it out to dry.
6. You wash your clothes every time you wear them. Washing and drying and tumbling and folding all take a toll on your clothes, which you might see in the form of pilling, fading or shrinkage. To keep your clothes looking better for longer try washing your clothes every other wear. Things like jeans, you can wear for a few days without washing, whereas underwear (obvs) and bras (yes, those too!) should be washed after every wear.
7. You leave your prom/homecoming/formal dress in the bag after your dry clean it. The chemicals used by your dry cleaner can be harmful to your clothes (see tip 4). It's fine to dry clean special and course "dry clean only" garments (props to you for not just throwing them in the wash), but leaving your precious gown to stew in a bag of chemicals isn't good for it. Remove the plastic dry cleaning bag as soon as you can and let your dress breathe for a few days after you get it back from the cleaners before storing it in a garment bag.
8. You use plastic or wire hangers. You know those weird nipples you get on the shoulders of your sweaters if you leave them hanging in your closet too long? On more delicate fabrics, like silk, mesh, or anything sheer, those nipples can become holes, especially if it's a heavy piece of clothing. Keep the nipples where they belong (on your chest) and invest in some of those fancy velvet hangers. If you have delicate vintage items, get a few padded hangers for extra support.