If you are like us, there is a big chance that you are using far more detergent than you need for your wash. For some reason, we think that the more detergent we use, the cleaner our clothes are going to be. Unfortunately that’s not how it works.

Even if you’ve been doing your own laundry for many years, these simple laundry mistakes are surprisingly easy to make. Here are some common laundry mistakes that most of us make and can easily avoid:

Dab, Instead Of Rubbing: Rubbing away vigorously can make a stain worse and possibly wear away the fabric. Instead, be gentle and methodical. Start by treating the stain as soon as you can; the less time that elapses, the more success you’ll have. And always use a white cloth so that colours don’t transfer, and dab, rather than rub, working from the outside in to keep the stain contained.

Go Easy On The Detergent: Less is more, especially when it comes to laundry detergent. Using more detergent than you need can actually make things worse, because excess suds can hold dirt pulled from clothes and get caught in areas that won’t always rinse clean, like under a collar, leading to bacteria buildup.

But if you have hard water, you may need more soap than you are using. Check the recommendation for hard water on your detergent bottle.

Unbutton Your Shirts and Blouses: It doesn’t seem like a huge laundry boo-boo, but leaving your buttons done up can stress buttons and buttonholes and lead to premature poppage. So take the time to unbutton before tossing clothes in the machine.

Is Your Washing Machine Level?: If your front loader makes a racket when it spins, chances are it is not level. This is bad because the vibrations can damage your floor and prematurely wear out key components in your washer, like the shock absorbers and the tub bearings. Place a level on top of the machine and adjust the feet, which typically screw up and down, accordingly. If this doesn’t help, use a ¾-inch-thick piece of plywood that’s a little larger than the machine’s base. It will help absorb any vibrations.

You Don’t Need To Rest Your Dryer Between Loads: You don’t need to rest your dryer before putting in a new load. In fact, running back-to-back dryer loads is smart and efficient as it lets you take advantage of retained heat from the previous cycle, cutting down on energy usage.

Are You Overloading Your Washer And Dryer?: Never stuff your machine to the brim. Your clothes need to be able to move around freely or they’ll wrinkle. On top of that, it can put pressure on the machine’s bearings and shock absorbers, causing them to wear down prematurely.

When Was The Last Time You Cleaned Your Dryer?: You should be emptying the lint filter after each use, because lint buildup can clog the duct over time and become a fire hazard. A sure sign that your dryer is clogged is that it takes more than an hour to dry a load.

As an added precaution, once a year, detach the hose from the back of the dryer and snake a long brush through to push out lint. Also scrub the lint filter once a year with a small toothbrush and a bit of detergent. Rinse, then air-dry completely.

Not Zipping Up Those Zippers: Take a few seconds to zip up your zippers. The metal teeth can snag delicate clothing that’s being washed in the same load.

Washing Dry-Clean Only Items: This isn’t necessarily a blunder. Most items that say “dry-clean” can be hand washed and air-dried. This includes natural fibres, such as linen and most silks. But first, be sure to check for colourfastness. Do this by moistening a cotton swab with mild detergent and dab it on a hidden seam to see if any dye comes off. If not, go ahead and dunk the garment in soapy water just once or twice, then rinse and immediately roll it in a towel to extract moisture.

However, you should stick with dry-cleaning for materials like leather, suede, silk dupioni, and anything with embellishments, and structured pieces (like blazers).