Whether it's a rogue sock dyeing an entire load or a plague of bobbling, here are your washing problems sorted forever
If you've ever experienced the sadness of taking your favourite jumper out of the washing machine and had to donate it to a small child or Barbie doll, then pay attention.
Shrinking, colours running, bobbling, creasing, dyeing - these are all laundry woes we've had to deal with.
But help and advice is at hand - and no, it isn't just "read the label" (though that does help, too).
Britain's leading housekeeping experts have come up with the cause, cure and prevention for the eight most common washing problems.
While the folk at the Good Housekeeping Institute can't find that stray sock you've been hunting for since December, their tricks and tips are the fruit of decades' worth of experience.
1. Bobbling on cotton and synthetic blends
Cause? Abrasion of fibres through normal wear and tear
Cure? Pick off by hand or with sticky tape, a razor or lint roller.
Preventing it happening again? Try washing garments inside out on a delicate wash cycle, use fabric conditioner and don't overfill the machine.
Try some fabric softener like Comfort creations
2. Colours running
Cause? Non-colourfast items washed with paler items at too high a temperature.
Cure? For white items without a 'do not bleach' symbol, soak in a weak solution of household bleach for 15 minutes, rinse thoroughly and repeat as necessary.
For coloured items try a branded colour-run remover but test on a hidden area first to make sure it works.
Prevention? Obvious tip but always wash dark colours separately, and use a low temperature for non-colourfast items.
3. Excessive creasing
Cause? Incorrect wash programme, overloading machine, or too long in the tumble-dryer.
Cure? Reduce wash temperature, wash smaller loads, use the synthetics programmes.
Prevention? Simply follow the instructions on the label.
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4. Harsh fabric, particularly towels
Cause? Over-drying, not enough detergent, inadequate rinsing
Cure? Soak items in a solution of water softener, run the machine on an empty cycle first, use a decalcifying agents in the machine, adding one cup of distilled white vinegar to the dispenser draw of the machine.
Prevention? Follow the detergent dosage instructions but increase the amount if items of heavily soils. Take towels out of tumble dryer before they are bone dry.
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5. Whites going grey
Cause? Dirt removed during washing has been re-deposited on the clothing as a very thin, uniform layer.
Cure? Use more detergent, the maximum dose allowed and wash again at the highest temperature. Soak in a bleach solution and then rinse thoroughly.
Prevention? Always follow the recommended dosage instructions and wash whites separately.
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6. Rucking of collars and shirt fronts
Cause? Collars and bands contain different fabrics to keep them stiff but can shrink when washed.
Cure? It may be too late in some cases. However, try but try steam-ironing the garment while still damp and carefully pulling the offending layers back into shape.
Prevention? Dry clean items or wash in cool water.
Some items require dry cleaning
7. White or grey specks or streaks
Cause? Hard water deposits in the local water supply.
Cure? Rewash using the maximum temperature and dosage of detergent. You may also need to soak the wash load in a water softener.
Prevention? Increase detergent dosage. In areas where there is very hard water, carry out an empty wash periodically, using just white vinegar or a proprietary washing-machine cleaner, to stop limescale build-up.
Show your washing machine some love with some white wine vinegar
8. Wool items shrinking and matting
Cause? Too high a wash temperature, excessive agitation, tumble drying or direct heat when drying.
Cure? It may be too late but sometimes re-wetting the item and gently stretching it can work.
Prevention? Only machine wash if the care label gives permission. If in doubt, always hand wash. Never, ever, tumble dry wool.