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How often should you wash your clothes? These are the top mistakes

The average family spends a lot of time in the laundry room doing about 300 loads of laundry every year. Even though people may be doing five loads of laundry a week, there is a chance they are doing it wrong, according to new research from Consumer Reports (CR).

With three growing boys at home, Erica Dickman-Wilkes has mountains of laundry.

“I do laundry every single day,” she said.

Stained, sweaty and dirty clothes are automatically thrown in the wash, and Dickman-Wilkes said she washes her comforters every week.

CR’s Rich Handel said that is too often. According to CR, it’s not necessary to wash that often unless your pet sleeps on the bed – otherwise, every three weeks will do the job.

But don’t hold off for too much longer as things we can’t see – like dust mites, bacteria, and dead skin cells – can trigger allergies and skin irritation.

CR said that sheets are another matter and should be washed every five to seven days, sooner if you or someone is sick.

Fear of a dank, moldy towel has Dickman-Wilkes washing her towels after every use, but CR said that is also too often.

“Don’t throw towels on the floor. Hang it up and if you allow it to dry in between, you won’t have to wash it as often. We generally suggest three to five days,” Handel said.

CR said that undergarments, t-shirts, socks and especially gym clothes should be washed after each use.

“And they should not be left bunched up in a bag where they can become a science experiment,” Handel said.

When it comes to khakis and dress shirts, unless they are dirty, stained or sweaty, save yourself the trouble and wash them after three wears. Jeans can go without a wash for even longer.

When it comes to detergents, three earned top spots in CR tests. Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release, Tide Oxi, and Persil Pro Clean Stain Fighter yielded very good results.

But don’t overdo it with laundry detergent as more is not necessarily better and research shows many people use twice as much as they need to.

Another mistake many people make is putting stained clothes in the dryer before the stain is removed. Once you do that, the heat sets the stain and it will be hard to get rid of it, so you're better off using a stain remover and washing it again.

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