You’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to wash clothes in a washing machine. These days there are so many different types of washing machines it’s easy to get confused when operating a washing machine that is unfamiliar to you. But no matter what type of washing machine you have, there are some things that you should always do in order to make sure that your clothes get clean but don’t get damaged. You may not have realized that there is a real art to laundry, but there is. Learning how to wash clothes in a washing machine is a skill that people need to learn. Use these tips from home experts to keep your washing machine running efficiently and protect your clothes:

Never overfill the washing machine: Washing machines are not bottomless pits of dirty clothes. You can overfill a machine, and if you do, you could ruin the machine and your clothes. Too many items of clothing packed into the washer drum will make it nearly impossible for the clothes to get clean. Never fill the washer more than three quarters of the way full. That way your clothes will have room to agitate in the water and they will get clean. It is much better to do multiple loads than to cram everything into one load and ruin the washer.

Put the soap in first: Putting soap on top of the dirty clothes means that only the clothes that have soap on them will get clean. First start the washer, and when the water is filling the tub, pour in the detergent. Natural detergents like Rockin' Green are the best type of laundry soap to use, especially in high efficiency washers. Putting the soap in the water first will make sure that the soap is distributed evenly to get all the clothes clean.

Sort your clothes: At the very least sort dark colors from light colors. If you want to be very thorough you can sort whites from light colors, and sort laundry by fabric too. That will prevent a lot of wear and tear on your clothing. Never wash clothing, especially delicate clothing, with items like towels or heavy sweaters. If you need to wash delicate items with heavier items use a mesh lingerie bag to prevent the delicate items from ripping, tearing, or getting tangled with other clothes.