Laundry is among the first tasks the highest school and college-age people learn about adulthood. It can be a communal activity you do with friends or neighbors or something you do by yourself.
While it may seem as easy as just throwing clothes into a washer or dryer, there are a few key things to remember about cleaning your clothes.
Tip #1: Separate Lights, Darks, and Delicates
This is the most basic laundry rule. Different colors and fabrics require different water temperatures for the most effective cleaning. For example, people use cold water on dark clothes because it helps prevent fading.
What counts as light or dark varies from person to person. One might think that all colored garments count as dark, while someone might put light colors with their white clothes in the same wash. The color grey, for example, could be a dark color or a light color.
Similarly, you want to separate delicates from other garments. It’s not a good idea, for example, to wash delicates with garments that have zippers since zippers can catch on delicate silk fibers and ruin the garment. You can place these delicate garments in mesh laundry bags, but these garments might also require different cycle types, so keep them separate.
Tip #2: Follow the Washing Instructions On Garments
While you can generally assume that most clothes only require a warm, cold, cool, or cold wash, you always want to ensure you pay attention to all specific directions.
If a garment specifically requires a cold wash, use a cold wash, and vice versa with warm washes.
Tip #3: Clean Out Your Lint Filter After Each Drying Cycle
After every drying cycle, make sure you clean out your lint filter. Not cleaning this part out after several washes can cause a house fire in some cases. Plus, sweeping the filter clean with your used dryer sheet after each cycle might be satisfying.
Tip #4: Run Smaller Loads
While loading your washer with clothes to run fewer loads might seem easier, you risk over-running your machine. Plus, with more room for the soapy water to run inside the machine, each article of clothing will have more space for cleaning.
Keep in mind that washing machines constantly rub clothes against each other and the machine. Large loads will put more wear and tear on the garments without giving them much room for cleaning. Smaller loads are also simply easier to handle when lugging around your laundry basket.
Smaller loads also do not need as long to wash. If you can time your washing loads, try using a shorter time, so your clothes don’t spin as often in the machine and get more wear and tear.
Tip #5: Use a Mesh Laundry Bag
Mesh laundry bags can save you time and energy sorting socks and keeping bras and other garments from tangling during a wash.
People previously used mesh laundry bags to protect lingerie and other delicate items in the wash, but you can use them for almost laundry purpose now. Most people use them to keep socks together and keep bra straps from tangling in other clothing items. They’re especially great for baby-sized items that get lost in every wash.
The best part is that you don’t need to take the items out of the bag before drying them. Instead, you can pluck the mesh bags out of the washer and throw them in the dryer.
You can buy mesh laundry bags for cheap online and in bulk if you need multiple bags for each wash.
Tip #6: Tie Drawstrings to Prevent Tangling or Loss
Sometimes, items with drawstrings like hoodies, sweatpants, or pajama bottoms can lose them in the washer or dryer. They might also tangle around other garments, like bras.
You can tie drawstrings loosely in a double knot to prevent them from coming loose in the wash. You might also place each garment in its mesh laundry bag.
Similarly, you can close up zippers and buttons to avoid catching on other fabrics during the cycle.
Tip #7: Use Laundry Boosters for Hard Water Washes
If your home uses hard water, achieving a deep clean might be a little more difficult. Chemicals like magnesium or calcium make the water cleaner for drinking, but it doesn’t necessarily help with cleaning clothes.
You might need extra detergent or laundry boosters to help prevent pilling or sweat stains. Sometimes, even adding extra detergent can be enough to clean your clothes.
Be careful about using too much detergent, especially if your machine does not use too much water. You don’t want the detergent to settle onto your clothes and stiffen them.
You can use a commercial laundry booster, or you can use a half cup of baking soda or washing soda.
Tip #8: Fold Clothes Immediately After Drying
It’s tempting to leave your clothes in the dryer after the cycle finishes. However, it’s better to take your clothes out of the dryer promptly and fold them. Doing so reduces wrinkles and saves time.
Also, remember to place folded clothes inside their respective drawers to help them stay clean and fresh.
Tip #9: Immediately Drape or Hang Delicate Items
Along with T-shirts and lounge clothes that can take a few wrinkles, you probably wash a few delicate items like blouses, lace slips, or bras. It’s typically a good idea to hang or drape these items over a clothes rack or on a hanger until they dry.
If you don’t have a drying rack, you can drape a few items at a time over your washing machine if you’re not using it. You can also hang items over the edge of your bathtub or shower rack.
Tip #10: Try Washing Clothes Inside Out
It’s a strange laundry trick, but try washing your clothes inside out. It does not prevent pilling or fraying but might help keep logos from flaking or colors from fading.
Washing machines work hard by rubbing clothes against each other, which can wear out logos and colors. Turning the clothes inside out will make the insides rub against each other and protect the outer clothes, especially if they have decorative elements like beads or ribbons.
If you notice stains on the outer layer, you can try pre-soaking them before turning them inside out for the final wash.
Tip #11: Only Dry Some Clothes for Ten Minutes or So
Not all clothes should stay in the dryer for a complete cycle since it can shrink them. For some garments, like blouses, jeans, or bras, you can only dry them for ten to fifteen minutes before hanging them out.
The good news about hanging up damp garments is that the extra weight can help remove wrinkles. If you hang damp jeans up by the ankles, for example, the weight of the wet fabric will decrease wrinkles and maintain the original leg length.
Tip #12: Pre-Treat Stains
Depending on the severity of the stain, a simple wash cycle can get some stains out of clothes, but deeper stains like wine, coffee, or blood may require more help.
Before throwing stained garments in the wash, pre-treat stains with detergent or stain remover and let the garment sit for ten minutes before washing. You can also try soaking the stain in cold water for ten minutes.
Tip #13: When In Doubt, Use Cold Water and Delicate Settings
The basic rule for laundry is to use cold water for dark colors and warm to hot water for light colors. Some say hot water works great for jeans or towels, but that might affect the garment materials.
When in doubt, use cold water since it’s easy on colors and doesn’t affect stretchy fabrics. It’s also better for the environment and saves a little money.
Some drying machines have different settings, so if you need clarification about which setting to use, go with delicate. It’s better to use minimal heat for a few cycles than to overheat and shrink delicate garments.
Laundry sometimes requires several steps to keep your clothes fresh, clean, and wrinkle-free. Luckily, there are plenty of simple solutions for getting the job done right, and home solutions like baking soda can make the process cheaper too.