You can have the best top-load washing machine in the world and still end up with laundry that doesn't feel, smell or look quite as clean as it could be. No matter what type of washing machine you have, here are five tips for getting cleaner laundry.

Clean Your Machine
You would think that since your washing machine is meant to, well, wash, it should always be clean. In reality, the detergent you use in your loads leaves behind residue that slowly builds up over time. Cleaning your machine on a regular basis helps to remove that buildup. The result is a clean machine that gives you cleaner laundry.

You usually only have to clean your machine a few times a year, depending on how often you use it and what type of water you have. Many top-load washers have cycles specifically for cleaning your washer. If yours doesn t, then there are great tutorials all over the web with detailed steps on how to do this. In general, you only need a couple of hours, a hot water cycle and some chlorine bleach and vinegar. Just don't mix the bleach and vinegar together, or you'll end up with a potentially toxic chemistry experiment.

Treat Stains Right Away
Many newer, higher-end washing machines come with some sort of stain treatment option. However, some stains just won't go away no matter how many times you run it through the wash. If you find yourself unhappily sporting a splotch of blood from a nosebleed or a smear of lipstick, don't wait to take care of it, and don't let it dry. The sooner you start treating a stain, the less likely it'll become permanent.

The internet has a wealth of tried-and-true stain removal tricks using items you probably have sitting around your home, such as hydrogen peroxide, baking soda or even shaving cream. Take a quick trip to Google, look for tips on how to treat your particular stain problem and get that stain taken care of. You'll also want to consider what type of material the stain is on, as some treatments will vary.

Sort Your Laundry
Most of us learned early on not to mix whites and colors. Otherwise, we might risk the "man's laundry turned pink" trope that sitcoms like to play up for fun. It's true that bright colors will usually be better off with other bright colors. However, many of us likely don't realize we should ideally sort our laundry according to fabric type, too. Some fabric types produce more lint than others do and some need gentler wash cycles or cycles at different temperatures.

That could potentially be a waste of energy and time if you only have a small load for one or two people. But if you find yourself with larger loads, divvying up the laundry according to both color and fabric type can help preserve colors and keep lint-prone items from getting lint all over the place. If you have any question about what sort of cycle and temperature a piece of clothing needs, check the tag.

Dissolve That Detergent
When I was younger, I dumped water, laundry and detergent into the washtub all in one go and not always in that order. Eventually someone taught me a better way. To get the most out of a load in a top-loading washing machine, let the washtub fill up a little with water and put the detergent in before your clothing to let it completely dissolve. Then either let the water fill up the rest of the way, or if your machine determines water level according to your laundry load, put in your laundry. Letting the detergent dissolve helps maximize its cleaning power. It also means your laundry will get a more even clean, so some pieces aren't more saturated in detergent than others.

Don't Overstuff
You might be tempted to cram as much laundry in one load as possible. After all, the fewer loads the better on costs and time, right? If you don't have that much laundry to begin with, you might be able to double up your loads. However, if you overshoot the washer's capacity, your clothes aren't going to get as thorough a cleaning as they should. Washing machines clean using both motion and the mix of water and detergent. If your washtub is so packed that the laundry can't move around, it isn't getting clean.

Getting cleaner laundry doesn't have to be an arduous task. Remember, we all wear our laundry every day, and it's often a large part of the first impression we give people. Just keep a few of these tips in mind and you'll have laundry as clean as the day you first used your new washing machine.

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