And 27 percent have accidently discoloured white clothes with a bright item, while a fifth have shrunk clothing after putting the machine on the wrong setting.
Other errors include leaving wet clothes in the drum too often (26 percent), overfilling the machine (20 percent), and putting detergents in the wrong drawer (18 percent).
Nearly half (46 percent) often make mistakes because they have trouble understanding the care labels on their clothes – and 25 percent struggle to work out their lights and darks.
And a third don’t know what is supposed to go in each section of the washing machine drawers, while a quarter are perplexed by which temperature setting to use for their load.
The research was commissioned by laundry experts Dr. Beckmann, which worked with Troy the Magician to reveal the true magic of getting your laundry habits right first time, by using the brand’s Magic Leaves.
Susan Fermor, a spokeswoman for the cleaning and laundry brand, said: “Doing the washing can be a troublesome task, as revealed by our “laundry list” of mishaps befalling Brits each day.
“And this is for good reason – for what may seem a simple task, there can be a lot of information to consider, from the washing machine settings to the laundry products you use, to the needs of the garments themselves.’’
Troy von Scheibner, a.k.a Troy the magician, said: “As a magician, my job is to help people see the magic in everyday life – and that includes the household activities we may see as a chore.
“I’m sure we can all agree that it’s important now more than ever to make sure we’re getting more for our money – and ensuring every product purchase goes as far as possible.”
The study also found 44 percent almost always use the same setting on their washing machine – because they have no idea what the other programmes are for.
And one in five (21 percent) frequently stick to hot washes, because they’re worried a cold wash won’t kill bacteria properly.
As for clothing materials which cause chore-bearers a headache, correctly cleaning wool was an issue for 27 percent, while 24 percent balk at the thought of getting a stain out of silk.
Cashmere, leather, and suede were also identified as nightmare materials to launder.
Despite being a deceptively simple task, and a part of everyday life, 46 percent admitted they find keeping their clothes clean an ongoing challenge.
And 44 percent court catastrophe by rarely checking the labels on their clothes before they disappear into the drum.
As a result of a laundry blunder, more than half (53 percent) have had to wash the same load of washing multiple times to get the desired result.
And these washing machine mishaps aren’t without casualties – with 54 percent admitting the need to throw garments away which have been ruined in the wash.
In fact, 43 percent even resist wearing one or more of the items of clothing in their wardrobe – because they are unsure about how to wash it.
The study, carried out via OnePoll, found 41 percent have had an item of clothing sacrificed to the washing machine by a partner who laundered it incorrectly.
And only 37 percent would trust their other half to do a good job of washing their favourite outfit.
Susan Fermor added: “Doing the laundry is a part of everyday life – but so, it seems, is a laundry mishap.
“Choosing the right product really can take the guesswork out of the washing – coupled with some basic knowledge about your machine, and any specific requirements for your garments.”