Learning how to do laundry is not difficult. Today’s fabrics, detergents, and machines take most of the mystery andmistakes out of the process. Determine first if every item of clothing really needs to be washed. Though it's great to stay on top of your laundry, you can wear many items more than once before they need to be washed. Also read the labels for any washing instructions and to make sure the item is not dry-clean only.
Follow these 10 basic steps andlaundry hacksfor washable clothes and you'll always have clean laundry.
Read the Labels
Check the care labelson your garments and linens. They will tell you whether or not an item can be machine washed. Also, every type of fabric has properties that determine how it reacts to heat, water, and cleaning solvents:
Place all clothes that are labeled “wash separately” or “hand wash” into separate piles. If the label says, “dry clean only,” believe it and place it in a bag to take to the dry cleaner.
There's no need to risk damaging any special fabrics by trying to save time or money and tossing them in the washer. In the future, try to avoid buying delicate items if you prefer not to deal with special laundry care.
Whites, pastels, light grays, and white background prints will go in one pile.
Deep colored clothes—black, red, navy, brown, dark gray—go in another pile.
Heavily soiled clothes should be washed separately.
Sort each pile one more time by type of fabric. For instance, in the whites pile, separate towels, and sheets from apparel. In the dark colors, separate t-shirts and jeans from lighter weight items like blouses and dress shirts.
Washing by fabric type allows you to use different water temperatures and keeps drying cycles simple. To reduce lint,never wash lint producing fabricsand lint attracting fabrics together!
If there are not enough items for a full washer load of each type of fabric and you are in a hurry, you can wash all items of each color together. Just be sure to choose thewasher cycleto fit the most delicate garments in the load.
Pick a Detergent
Select an all-purposelaundry detergent. Read the directions to determine how much to use based on the size of the load.
If your clothes have stains, pre-treat them before washing so it doesn't set in. Simply applya stain removeror rub in a bit of laundry detergent.
Add the detergent to the washer drum or dispenser before loading it. This will prevent residue on your clothing.
Pick a Water Temperature and Cycle
Unless your clothing is caked with dirt and heavily stained, washing in cold water will serve your needs and prevent mostlaundry disasters.
The exception is cotton underwear and bedsheetsthat need hot waterto remove body oil.Bed linens and towelsneed to be washed at the highest recommended temperature at least every other wash to sanitize them.
No matter the temperature, always rinse in cold water.
You will also want to choose the best washer cycle for the fabrics in the load. The "normal" cycle will be fine for most loads, but you may also need to use "permanent press" or "delicate" for certain fabrics. "Heavy-duty" is great for articles like jeans and towels.
Take a bit of time to double-check everything before you load the washer. This will save you from any last-minute mistakes.
Look for any stainsand pretreat them. Certain types of stains require special techniques to remove them, while many can be handled with a spot treatment. There's also a proper approach formystery stainswhen you're not sure what caused it.
Also, check that all pockets are empty—no tissues or paper, either—to prevent disasters. Remove any accessories such as belts and jewelry. Close all zippers, VELCRO, and buttons to prevent them from catching the fabrics.
Load the Washer
Load items into the washerone at a time, making sure they are not in a wad. Do not cram the washer too full. The clothes need room to move about in the water.
To protect fabric finishes and reduce the “washed out” look, turn knitted items, corduroy, textured fabric, and dark colors inside out.
Unload the Washer
Promptly remove wet laundry from the washer to lessen wrinkles and prevent mildew. Hang items to air dry, lay flat to dry, or place them in the dryer.