hether you have a washer and dryer in your house, or you go to the laundromat to do your laundry, it can always seem like a continuous chore that always needs to be done. You may be new to the laundry scene, just having moved out of your childhood home, or you may just need some tips on how to better do your laundry. If either of these are the case, you came to the right place! The following will be covered in this article:

  • The basics (separating loads, choosing speed/water temps, etc)
  • Deciphering laundry symbols
  • Products that make doing laundry a breeze (for sorting clothes, organic/environmentally friendly laundry products, laundry subscription boxes)
Lady folding laundry at a laundromat
Be sure to sort your laundry into darks and whites for the best results.

The Basics of Doing Laundry

Separating your darks and whites, choosing speed and water temperatures

If you are new to doing laundry, you will want to know these basics to get the best results. Otherwise, your laundry may bleed the dark colors onto the lights, or unwanted shrinkage will occur. 

Spring laundry is important

Sorting laundry can be divided into four categories-- lights, darks, whites, and delicates.

The lights are those clothing items that are light in color, including bright colors that aren’t too dark.

Darks are just that--clothes that are dark in color and have the potential to bleed and fade into lighter items of clothing. So you want to keep these pieces and do them in a separate load to avoid this problem.

Whites are specific to purely white clothes, bed sheets, and pillow cases. You want to make sure these are all alone so they don’t pick up the colors from the darker materials.

Delicates are items that are thin and possibly lacy or just overall items that you want to maintain in their shape and design. Separate these from other clothes and put them in their own cycle on delicate, a particular setting on the washing machine. Putting clothes on the delicate cycle helps them last longer in general. It can be rough on the clothes to put them through the regular cycle, so if you want to really stay on the safe side, you can put all your loads on delicate.

Sometimes the washing machine will ask you for the color you are washing and then have a preset temperature. If that is not the case, there are some easy ways to remember what settings to use for which loads.

Wash lights in cold water on a regular cycle. Wash darks in cold water on a regular cycle. Wash whites in hot water on a regular cycle.
Laundry symbols with the descriptions of what they mean underneath
Laundry symbols can be plentiful and confusing. Use this guide to keep them all straight! Image courtesy of Visually.

Deciphering laundry symbols

If you’re feeling frustrated when there are only symbols and no written out instructions on you tags, fear no more

Follow this simple to use guide for those unusual symbols that may not be so obvious at first glance.

Once you know which symbol coordinates with which action, it’s time to wash your clothes! Turn on your washer to the correct setting based on the type of load you are washing. Add detergent to the machine, following the directions on the bottle for how much to use. The way you add the detergent may vary based on the machine you are using. For example, some washing machines have a drawer to put the detergent in, while others have a small carton-like space. You can also put the detergent directly into the machine with the clothes, or use a pod that you put in with the clothes. 

Later in this article, we’ll discuss the best types of detergent to use and which are the safest and most environmentally friendly. Color boosting solvents such as hydrogen peroxide can be added at this time as well. If you want to use bleach to brighten your whites, do so, but not with hydrogen peroxide. Choose one or the other.

Laundry Bags

Another way to wash your laundry is in a bag that catches lint and prevents microplastics from entering the waterway. Because there is no lint tray in a washer, this is an environmentally conscious way to go.

Dealing with Delicates

For some of your very delicate clothes, the tag may have washing instructions that indicate to wash by hand and lay flat to dry. Do not be overwhelmed by this endeavor. Simply plug the drain and fill your sink with cold water and pour a drop of detergent in. A little bit goes a long way. Dunk the piece of clothing into the water and massage it vigorously so the dirt is removed. You may see the water change from clear to gray. This may be some of the fibers from the clothes, or even better, the dirt that you are trying to remove. After you’ve massaged it a decent amount, drain the water and refill the sink with clean water. Do this until the soap is gone. Then lay flat on a towel or hang to dry. 

Dry Clean Only

If the tag says dry clean only, make sure you follow that instruction and take it to the dry cleaners.

There are some kits available to help you save a couple bucks and dry clean your clothes at home, but if there's a piece you're particularly concerned about getting clean and keeping nice, a professional is the way to go.

Removing Stains 101

Removing stains is also quite simple. Find a stain remover that you like and follow the instructions on the bottle. Usually this includes wetting the area of the stain, spot treating it with the liquid and scrubbing it, letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, and then adding it to the load with the rest of your clothes.

There are also steps you can take if you catch a stain as it happens -- we've all watched in horror as a glass of pop spills on our white jacket or marinara sauce drops on our jeans. Yikes. In the moment, avoid the temptation to rub at the stain -- you don't want to press stain-causing agents deeper into the fabric! Lightly dab at the area using cold water or seltzer (hot water can actually set stains faster). And avoid putting your stained article in a dryer until the stain has been removed -- once again, the heat can set the stain and bake it in forever.

Drying Clothes without Damaging Clothes

To dry your clothes, simply move the load from the washer into the dryer. It is helpful to move each piece of clothing individually, as this will help separate them from the clump that they may be in. This will also help get out the wrinkles, and help them dry more efficiently.

If you are worried about shrinkage, you can always hang the clothes on a clothesline if you have one available to you, or on a drying rack. As a work around, you can also hang clothes on doors, chairs, or on hangers.

Clothing with lots of lace or elastic (think frilly underwear or yoga pants) should be air dried whenever possible as heat can actually wear out these delicate materials faster.

Whites should be dried on high heat, while everything else can be put on regular heat. This will prevent shrinkage, and although you may have to run the machine more than once, it is worth it.

Also don’t forget to make sure you are clearing your lint tray in your dryer every so often, possibly every time you dry your clothes, to make sure it is clear to pick up the other lint that falls off your clothes.

Step-by-step guide of how to do laundry more effectively
Follow 10 simple steps to perfect your laundry doing skills. Image courtesy of Visually.

Products that make doing laundry a breeze 

Including ways to sort clothes, organic/environmentally friendly laundry products, and laundry subscription boxes

To sort your clothes with the most efficiency, buy two or more bins to put your laundry into. Then, as you gather your dirty laundry, you will easily be able to sort your clothing by color and put it into the correct bin. When it comes time to do the laundry, it will already be sorted!

The best laundry detergent is one that is good for your clothes as well as the environment, since it will ultimately be going into the waterway as well as onto your clothes which rest on your skin. Pick one that will best suit your needs. Here is a guide to the top environmentally friendly laundry detergents to use in 2020.

  1. Tide Purclean
  2. Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent
  3. Method 8X Free & Clear Laundry Detergent
  4. Tru Earth Laundry Strips
  5. The Laundress Sport Detergent
  6. Method 4X Concentrated Laundry Detergent
  7. Defunkify Active Wash Laundry Detergent Powder
  8. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Laundry Detergent
  9. Common Good Laundry Detergent
  10. Biokleen Laundry Liquid
  11. Greenshield Organic
  12. Charlie's Soap
  13. Indigo Wild Zum Clean Laundry Soap
  14. Boulder Clean
  15. Ecos Free & Clear
  16. Eco Nuts

There are both liquid detergents as well as powder detergents, in both their ordinary form as well as in pods. Choose what best suits your needs. You may find that some types of detergent better suit your needs over others.

If you are the type of person that is too busy to do laundry or just hates the idea of it, there are laundry box subscriptions that can take the pain out of doing the chore. This is a service that will pick up your laundry, do it for you, and then drop it back off. While it can be an added expense, it also takes away the hassle if you don’t have a washer and dryer of your own and would have to go to the laundromat to do your laundry. An added bonus is that they often fold your clothes for you!

Doing laundry can be a chore that you may have never thought you would have to do, whether it was your parents who always had that job, or you just thought it magically got done. Instead of treating it as a dreaded chore, think of it as a wonderful way to keep yourself fresh and smelling clean! Following the guidelines outlined in the article will help you be well on your way.

May 20, 2020