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Laundry Instructions 101

Are you ready to start doing your own laundry?  If so this laundry instruction post is for you.  I’ve broken down how to do laundry in 9 easy steps to help you get started.

If you follow these basics steps for washable clothes you’ll be doing your laundry in no time and all and will always have clean clothing to hear.

Laundry Instructions Care Label

1. Read All Clothing Labels

Before doing your laundry always check the care labels on your garments and linens.  Laundry care labels are specially designed to help you determine needs to be hand washed or is safe in the washing machine.

Every fabric reacts differently to heat, water and cleaning detergents so learning the basics will help you avoid destroying your favorite clothing.

Creates piles for clothing labeled “wash separately” or “hand wash” and separate.  Clothing that is labeled “dry clean only” should be placed in a separate bag to take to the dry cleaner.

If you are like me and hate dealing with dry cleaning avoid purchasing dry clean only clothing in the future.  The cost of drying cleaning is rarely worth it for me based on my lifestyle.

2. Sort Your Laundry By Color

Laundry should be initially sorted by color into three categories:

  • White Based Clothing – Whites, pastels, light grays and white background prints should all be piled together. For example, my daughter has a lot of white shirts with various prints on them, I will typically sort these into my white pile.
  • Deep Colored Clothing – Darker colors like black, red, greens, blues and browns should be sorted together.
  • Heavily Soiled – If you have items that are really, really dirty (like after a camping trip) you may want to consider sorting them separately.

Depending on how much space you have, the easiest way to sort your clothing is to have a laundry basket that does all of the work for you.

This is similar to the laundry basket I use.  It is compact and has wheels.  I know it sounds crazy, but the wheels make all the difference.

3. Sort Laundry By Type of Fabric

Once you have done your first round of sorting it is important to resort based on fabric types.  For example, your darker colors most likely have jeans mixed in with t-shirts.

Heavier fabrics can damage lighter weight items like blouses and dress shirts.

Also when you wash fabrics based on specific fabric types it allows you to tailor your washing cycles based on different water temperatures and drying cycles.

It isn’t always possible to have a full washer load for each type of fabric. Do your best and if you have to wash random fabric together always choose the washer cycle for the most delicate garments in the load.

Helpful hint: Never wash link producing fabrics and lint attracting fabrics together!

Laundry Detergent for washing clothing

4. Pick a Laundry Detergent

Select an all-purpose laundry detergent that is good for a variety of fabric types.  Follow the directions and use the appropriate amount of detergent based on the fabric and load size.

Don’t forget to pre-treat any stains. I try to do this step before I add my clothing to my laundry baskets. Most stain remover recommend leaving their products on for less than 1 week, so plan accordingly.

If you’ve never used a stain remover, it is super simple.

Spray the product on the spot and then gently scrub it back and forth.  This is the stain remover I use and love!  It has saved a lot of nice outfits over the years.

Helpful hint: If your washing machine is the type the requires you to pour the detergent directly in the drum I recommend pouring in the detergent either after all of the water is in the drum or mix it in as the water flows into the drum.

Avoid pouring laundry detergent directly on your clothing.

5. Pick a Water Temperature and Cycle

Washing your clothing in cold water is typically fine for most items. Cold water helps prevent color bleeding and most laundry disasters.

However, heavily soiled clothing may need hot water to get rid of all of the direct and grime.

I also wash all of my underwear, bedding and towels in hot water.  This will remove body oils and help sanitize them.

Most washing machines have a variety of cycles for different types of fabrics.  Read your instruction manual and choose the appropriate cycle for your load type.

Typically the normal cycle will work for most loads, but you may also find yourself using the permanent press, delicate or heavy-duty cycles as well.

6. Load Laundry In The Washing Machine

As you load your washing machine it is important to add one item at a time.  This gives you one last chance to check for stains.

This is also your last chance to find any treasures your kids (or spouse) have left in their pockets.  There is nothing worse than finding chapstick, red markers, rocks, money or keys after a load has been done (personal experience – don’t make this mistake!)

Remove any belts or other attached items that may be damaged or loop around the center agitator.

Certain fabrics like knitted, textured and dark colors are prone to fading if you turn them inside out prior to washing you can often extend their life.

As you load your clothing remember not to cram the washing machine too full.  Cleaning is most effective when there is plenty of room for the fabric to move in the water.

Also as you load your washing machine make a mental note of any clothing that can’t go in the dryer so you’ll remember to watch for it later.

7. Unloading Your Washing Machine

It is super important to unload your wet clothing from the washer as soon as possible to lessen wrinkles and prevent mildew.

I’m horrible at remembering my clothing, so I always set a timer on my phone to remind me.

As you remove the clothing from the washing machine separate any items that need to be air-dried.

8. Load the dryer

Always load the dryer based on fabric types.  Lightweight fabrics need to be separated from heavier fabrics to prevent over-drying.

Over-drying your clothing is a great way to ruin them.  It can cause shrinking and is hard on the fabrics.

If possible you may want to consider air-drying your clothing.  It will extend the life of your clothing and save you quite a bit of money.

If you are trying to avoid chemicals and want to save money you may want to consider using wool dryer balls. 

Loading a dryer

9. Remove clothing from the dryer

Clothing wrinkles quickly if left in the dryer for too long, so always remove your clothing promptly.  I always set a timer on my phone for the drying cycle.

Once everything is out of the dryer it is time to fold.

Folding clothing is the worst!  However, I’ve found that if I do it immediately the chore doesn’t seem quite as miserable.

Laundry Instruction Tips

Laundry can be completely overwhelming and get out of control really easily. There is nothing worse than piles of laundry stacking up throughout the house.

I’ve discovered that if I do one load of laundry a day I can keep up.

I start a load in the morning and then monitor it throughout the day depending on my schedule. I have a day for whites, colors, jeans, towels & bedding each week. Most weeks I can have my weekly laundry done by Friday and then skip the weekend.

You may need a different schedule so adjust accordingly. The goal is to create a schedule that works for you and your family.