Posted on November 19th, 2020
Your clothes speak volumes about you: The outfits you choose express your tastes, convey your emotions, and hint at your personality. When carefully selected and properly cared for, clothing can also demonstrate conscientiousness, professionalism, and other desirable traits, giving you an edge in social situations.
Whether you’re preparing for a job interview or a first date – or you just want to keep your clothes looking great for as long as possible – knowing how to do laundry properly is a vital skill to have. In the guide below, we’ll explain how to prepare your clothes for washing and give you useful tips for keeping them clean and fresh.
Before You Get Started: A Pre-Wash Checklist
Read the care label on each item of clothing.
Not only do clothing labels specify whether items can be machine washed or not, they often contain special instructions for handling buttons, cuffs, lining, trim, etc. Before you do laundry, set aside any items that need to be dry-cleaned or hand-washed so you don’t accidentally include them in the regular wash. Then, identify items that aren’t color-fast and group them with similar colors. (These items need to be washed separately, otherwise they’ll stain your other clothing.)
Prepare machine-washable clothing.
Washing machines can be hard on clothing, so it’s essential to prepare your clothes properly (as per their care instructions) before you hit the “start cycle” button: Empty all pockets and turn them inside-out, unroll shirt and pant cuffs, unbutton buttons, zip up zippers, and tie drawstrings. Mend tears and loose buttons, if necessary, to prevent further damage during washing. You should also turn items with delicate features (like trim, decals, and embroidery) inside-out prior to tossing them in the machine.
If your washing machine has a “hand wash” setting, prepare hand-washable items using the same steps above. Then, place them inside a mesh bag for extra protection during washing.
Sort clothing into different loads.
To prevent color changes and premature wear, you should organize your dirty clothes into piles based on their hue and fabric type; e.g:
- White and light colors
- Warm, bright colors (like red, orange, pink, and yellow)
- Black and dark, cool colors (like deep blue, gray, and green)
- Items with heavy fabric (such as jeans, sweaters, and jackets)
- Lightweight items
- Clothes that require a “permanent press” cycle
- Terry cloth items, like robes, cloths, and towels
- Bedding and other linens
Wash each pile as a separate load to keep your clothes in pristine condition. You can, however, group terry cloth items with your shower curtain and launder them together. This is a great way to speed up the process of cleaning your shower because the terry cloth will gently scrub away shower curtain mildew during washing.
Ideally, you should treat clothing stains as soon as they happen; this way, stains won’t have time to “set” deeply into the fabric. If you’ve missed a stain, however, pretreating it before laundering the affected item is the next best option. Durable items can be pretreated with an appropriate spray-on stain remover, whereas delicate items should be dabbed with laundry detergent and soaked in warm water until the stain starts to lift. (When using a spray-on stain remover, remember to treat both sides of the stain, not just one.)
Our 4 Top Laundry Tips
Choose the right water temperature.
Washing with cold water is a great way to save energy, and it’s the only appropriate way to wash delicate items and fabrics that aren’t color-fast. There are, however, a few situations where washing with hot water is required: Choose a hot water wash for your towels, bedding, cotton whites, and durable items (like work clothes) that have become heavily soiled. Hot water is better at killing bacteria and lifting certain tough stains, like grease and oil.
Remember that using more detergent doesn’t equal cleaner clothes.
When you add too much laundry detergent to the wash, you create an overabundance of sticky suds. These suds can overwhelm the amount of water in the wash and actually redeposit dirt back onto your clothes. Excess laundry detergent also tends to leave a residue behind, which can lead to itching and skin irritation. Try reducing the amount of detergent you use by half – Your clothes will look cleaner when they come out of the washing machine and stay grime-free longer.
Don’t overload your washer.
Cramming your washing machine to the brim with clothing might seem like an efficient way to reduce your water and electricity consumption, but unlike cold-water washing, this technique tends to backfire. When you overload your washing machine, you reduce its ability to agitate (and therefore clean) your clothing. You also run the risk of damaging the drum inside your machine, shortening its lifespan and causing it to use more water over time. For best results, don’t wash more than seven pounds of clothing in a single load. Some people unfortunately hoard a lot of stuff and that makes doing laundry harder.
Turn the washer on (and let it run) before adding detergent.
With the exception of pre-treating stains, applying laundry detergent directly to clothing isn’t recommended. Instead of pouring detergent on your clothes before you start each wash cycle, you should turn on your washing machine and allow it to fill with water, then add detergent. Using this method will ensure the soap is evenly distributed and prevent detergent residues from clinging to your clothes.
Cleaning properly takes time, whether you’re doing laundry, washing the dishes, or scrubbing tile grout. If you find yourself cutting corners during these routine chores, it’s probably time to talk to a professional cleaner: Our team of affordable maids in Oklahoma City can keep your home gleaming for you, so you can devote more time to looking – and feeling – your best. Contact us today to learn more about our services.