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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Separating whites, mediums and darks

By Dr. Laundry October 3, 2012

I am a clothes hound college student that is just now learning I need to take better care of these clothes! I ALWAYS separate my colors; whites, mediums, & darks, but I was wondering should I be dividing my mediums? My medium colors consist of anything and everything that isn’t navy blue, black, and dark gray. So all of my brights and bold colors with my soft peachy light grays and baby blues are washed together. Is this a bad habit? I want to keep my clothes from fading and looking like the day I bought them.

It sounds like you are the best-dressed student on campus!  Good for you for paying attention to your laundry habits—you are definitely on the right track since you are already sorting into the three main color groupings. For many people, this is enough of a challenge, but for those willing to take the time to further sort what I call the “mixed light colors” load that’s terrific! This load covers a wide range of items, including white items that can’t be bleached (like white camisoles that are a cotton/spandex blend). When these will be part of your mixed colors load, it’s a good idea to limit the other items in the load to pastels and light beige items, and wash the brighter colors in another load if you can. Red items should go into the dark load, although whenever I have enough red items on hand to wash an “only red and pink” load I’ll do just that. The hardest items to sort are the split personality shirts that have a colored body and white sleeves. For these items, initially I’ll wash them by themselves or with a dark load if they are blue or green, and once I’m confident there’s no chance of bleeding I’ll include them in a mixed colors load.

It sounds like your college experience includes housing with easy access to a clothes washer—many students need to spend as little time and money on laundry as they can, so you are lucky!