How to do laundry: discover our step-by-step guide on the right way to sort, wash and dry your laundry.
Even if laundry is your most dreaded household chore, there’s not much getting around it: your clothes, towels, and bedding will keep piling up until you clean them.
Read the labels well the labels on your clothes
First, look at the care labels, often located on the side seams, back neck, or back waist of garments. Together, these little labels tell you everything you need to know about your garment, including the fibers it’s made of and recommended washing and drying techniques. Instructions are often explained, but sometimes labels are just a list of laundry symbols. In that case, follow this guide on how to decode washing symbols.
Put Delicates and Small Items in a Laundry Bag: Protect delicate items (underwear, bras, and other lingerie) from damage by placing them in a mesh laundry bag before washing. While you’re at it, gather smaller items, like socks and cloth belts, and add them to the bag to make sure they don’t get lost in the wash.Measuring detergent: Always use the cap or scoop that came with your liquid, powder or sachet detergent. Measure the amount based on the size of your load and how dirty it is.
For top-loading and front-loading machines, load the clothes, then add liquid or powdered detergent and fabric softener to the dispenser and start the machine. If you’re using single-use detergent, place it in the machine before adding your clothes, unless you’re using a newer machine with a dispenser designed for single-dose packs. At this point, place the items in the washing machine, making sure nothing is tangled or twisted.
If your top-loading washing machine doesn’t have a detergent dispenser, place it directly in the tub, run the water, and add clothes as they dissolve. Follow a similar approach for front-loading washers without a detergent dispenser: first place the single-use detergent pods in the machine, add the clothes, close the door, and start the machine.
If you determine that hand washing is the safest bet for your laundry, follow this guide on how to wash delicates:As the sink fills, add the recommended amount of laundry detergent, so it can dissolve properly before adding clothes. Once the detergent is completely dissolved, lay your garment out in the water and gently press down to fully immerse .immerse the garment, and squeeze the water out to rinse it. Repeat as needed.Remove excess water . Wringing damp, delicate fabrics can damage them, so instead lift the garment with both hands and gently wring out as much water as possible. Dry items flat . To prevent delicate garments, especially knits, from losing their shape, block them after washing before drying them flat. Speed up the drying process by laying sweaters or swimsuits on a dry towel and letting them air dry. Once the front is dry, turn them over.Empty the washing machine and load the items in the dryer or air dry them.Promptly remove items from the machine to prevent mildew and reduce wrinkles. Shake items after removing them from the washing machine to avoid wrinkles during the drying process.Tumble dryers allow you to adjust the time, temperature, and dryness levels for most loads, but always check your garment’s care label for recommendations. Most cycles are automatic, which means a dryer can sense when the load is dry and complete the cycle. This ultimately saves energy and prevents damage to the fabric due to overdrying. Timed dry cycles run for the amount of time you select and should be used for bulky items, like quilts or jackets, that take a long time to dry.
Hang or fold clothes
Before you can put your laundry away in a dressing room or closet, hang or fold the clothes as soon as they are dry to prevent them from creasing. But when the inevitable happens (i.e. the wrinkles), quickly steam or iron your clothes to get rid of them. Although you may prefer one method of steaming over another, there are special cases where steaming or ironing is recommended.
Clean your washing machine and dryer regularly.
Leftover detergent, fabric softener, and built-up debris can get stuck in your machine, eventually causing mold growth and a musty smell. To avoid this, make sure to clean your machine often.
After each wash, remove any debris or pet hair so it does not redeposit on future loads. Once a month, deep clean your washing machine. Even if your machine has a special cleaning cycle, clean it thoroughly by adding 1/2 cup of liquid bleach to the dispenser and running a normal cycle with hot water (or follow what the manual says of your machine). If you have a front loader, wipe and dry the rubber seal on the door.
Like washing machines, dryers require regular maintenance. In addition to cleaning the filter after each charge, be sure to clean the chamber that houses the filter once a month. To do this, remove any lint you can grab and use your vacuum’s crevice tool or a dryer cleaning brush to grab what you can’t reach. Once a year move your dryer away from the wall, so you can easily vacuum behind and under the machine.