Happy Laundry Day! Learning how to properly wash your clothes is one of the most important adulting skills because it’s going to be evident to the world when something isn’t done right. So whether you’re looking for laundry tips because this is your first time washing your own clothes, or you’re tired of wrinkled tops, pink socks, and XXS shirts, then you’ve come to the right place.
This is my extensive list of best laundry tips, including the different cleaning products I like to use. If you have acknowledged (or been told by a significant other) that it is no longer acceptable to wear the same t-shirt multiple days in a row, you’re ready to get started!
Treat stains as soon as they happen.
If you aren’t home when something happens to spill something on your shirt, the best chance of preventing the stain from setting in is to dab the spot with COLD water. If you’re home, use a stain removing product, such as Goop, before washing. Stain will set in permanently once you dry the item, so be cautious.
Separate your laundry into 3 main groups: whites/lights, darks, towels/sheets.
I know this is step is kind of a pain,
and I’ve heard many of my friends say they don’t have time…but it could mean the difference between a white shirt and a pink shirt. To make this step easier, I purchased 2 laundry baskets – one black and one white. I place all of my dirty whites/lights in the white basket, and my dirty darks in the black basket. When it comes time to wash a load, I don’t even have to worry about the organization part because it’s already been done along the way.
Pay attention to clothing label instructions, especially on unique materials and delicate pieces.
As much as I would love to have a wardrobe of easy-to-wash clothes, the truth is I love embellished pieces (sequins, beads, lace, you name it). For extremely fragile items, I try my best to hand wash…but that is a rare occasion. For most items, I have found that you can use protective mesh laundry bags and wash on a delicate cycle and still avoid damage.
Hand wash when necessary (even though it sucks).
Many brands will put this instruction as a precaution, even when the item may be just fine on the washing machine’s delicate cycle. This is going to be a judgement call, if you think the piece will be vulnerable to damage and you can’t live without it, it’s better to be safe than sorry – hand wash it. If you feel comfortable putting it in the washer, invest in a few mesh bags to protect them from rougher clothing items that may potentially snag other items.
Choose detergent wisely.
This is important for several reasons, the most obvious being that you don’t want to damage or discolor your clothes. I like to use “basic detergent” for my whites/lights and towels/sheets. Because it’s cost effective and is comparable to name brands, I use Costco’s Kirkland brand Ultra Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent. For my darker items, I like to use Woolite Darks Laundry Detergent, which prevents dark clothing and jeans from fading. I can’t say that I’ve proven that it works better, but it gives me peace of mind that my black pants won’t be brown anytime soon.
Don’t overfill the washing machine.
Now that you’ve treated stains, properly sorted, checked for delicate items, and picked out your detergent, it’s time to get to washing. When I haven’t done laundry in a week and it’s really piled up, I’m always tempted to do one GIANT load. But every time I do this, my clothing never gets washed properly and I end up having to do more work than it was worth. So even though 2 loads sounds like more work, it will actually save you time in the long run. Washing machine sizes vary, but just be cognizant of how full it is and test out different laundry load sizes until you get it right.
Use the proper water temperature.
Warm water is known to open up fibers and cause colors to bleed, and you don’t want your amazing laundry sorting skills to go to waste, so be sure to wash your clothing in COLD water. If you want your sweaty athletic wear in something warmer to get rid of the bacteria, wash those in a separate load. Always use warm water for your towels and sheets to ensure these are thoroughly cleaned.
To dry, or not to dry – that is a complicated question.
As a general rule, I like to dry my clothing for 60 minutes, and sheets and towels for 70 minutes. However, not everything can be thrown in the dryer. Some items tend to shrink and need to be hung up or laid flat to dry, while others are simply too delicate to be bouncing around in the dryer.As you are moving your items from the washer to the dryer, be on the lookout for pieces that shouldn’t be dried:
- Items that note to “hang dry” on the clothing label
- Items that are 100% cotton and may be prone to shrinking
- Your favorite shirts that you don’t want to risk shrinking
- Any delicate items that you washed in the protective mesh bags
If you have a lot of clothing that needs to hang dry, I would recommend investing in a laundry drying rack. I use this rather large contraption, but there are smaller options available as well. For the clothes that are in the dryer, throw in a dryer sheet to help keep fabrics soft and prevent static cling.
*Note: There are some shirts that I allow to dry for about 20 minutes, and then pull out and hang dry. This helps remove wrinkles without risking shrinkage 😉
9. Remove and fold/hang clothing promptly.
Not going to lie, this is my least favorite part about doing laundry, but it’s also one of the most critical steps. After you’ve put in all the work of properly washing and drying your clothing, you need to remove everything from the dryer as quickly as possible. Once that buzzer or timer goes off, try not to let the clothing sit in there too long, or else the wrinkles will begin to set in and all of your hard work will be wasted. The GOOD NEWS – if you were drying towels or sheets, you can let those sit in there (unless you’re concerned about wrinkles on your bed, but who is?). On a typical laundry day, I like to do my towels and sheets last, so I can put them away another day and save myself from one more load of folding.
This seems like a lot to learn just to wash your clothes, but once you get into the habit of properly sorting, washing, drying, and organizing, laundry day isn’t all that bad! Let me know what your least favorite thing about doing your laundry is…maybe there’s a trick I can share to help ease your pain!
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