I know – you do laundry two, three times a week. But sometimes we don’t even realize that we could be making little changes to our technique that might extend the life of our items, or make the process smoother.
Step 1: Sorting
Everyone is a different kind of sorter. Do you still try to cram it all in one washload? Or are you a lights/darks person? Sorting really is the first key to obtaining the best results. How shall I sort thee?A) First, group clothes by colors:
White items, light colors, dark colors and delicates.
B) Then by texture
It’s great if you can keep the lightweight and the heavy items separate, especially when you get ready to dry them.
C) Third, separate lint producers (like towels) from lint attracters (like corduroy). They can start transferring little fuzzies in the wash and look kind of dull by the time you pull them from the dryer.
Step 2: Products
You wouldn’t try to bake a cake or fix a car without the proper tools – laundry should be seen in the same way. A lot of us just use the products our mom or last roommate used for doing our laundry. However, there are many options out there for detergents and additives – do you know what you’re putting in that washer?
Detergent – Two types; liquid and powder.
Bleach – Oh boy, there are several options here. I’ll get more into the other kinds of bleach in detail on another post – it could take awhile to get all the information out. Of course I am partial to the old reliable – Clorox® Regular Bleach2.
Fabric Softener – Two options (liquid or sheets) are available to leave clothes feeling softer, help eliminate static cling and leave a lingering scent in your clothes. Add the liquid to the fabric softener dispenser. It will be added in the final rinse after the cleaning has been completed. The dryer sheets will give less softening than the rinse-added version.
Step 3: Deal with problem stains & soils ASAP
Tackle stains with a pretreater or stain remover before laundering. This allows you to use concentrated product and jumpstart the removal. Pretreat problems with liquid detergent (apply, rub in, let set 3-5 minutes) or special pretreater products. If unsure whether product is safe to use on item, do a quick pretest (check label) or apply drop in hidden spot (like inside seam), wait 1-2 minutes, then blot with damp cloth/towel. Air dry and check for discoloration. If none, then product should be safe to use on item.
Step 4: Ahh…to wash with hot or not to wash with hot
Choosing the right setting is key. Check care labels on clothes before putting them into the washing machine. Use the warmest water recommended for the fabric to wash. Always use HOT for whites; light and dark colors should be warm or Permanent Press; delicates if not hand washed should only be done on DELICATE. Add the proper amount of detergent to the dispenser or to bottom of washer as the water is filling and BEFORE you add the clothes. If using bleach, it’s best to pour it into the machine’s bleach dispenser, which adds it at the bottom of the machine, while water is filling, and helps to dilute it and disperse it more thoroughly. If you don’t have a bleach dispenser, let the water fill ¼ to 1/3 in the machine; add the detergent and bleach; swish the agitator to help mix and disperse then drop in your clothes.
An Ick Tip:
Do you know who used that washer before you at the Laundromat? I know, gross, right? Always do the white load with disinfecting bleach first. It will disinfect your white laundry, take care of anything the last person left behind, and keep from adding germs to the rest of your loads.
Step 5: DryCheck all stained fabrics as you transfer them into the dryer for successful removal. Once a garment has been dried, the stain may be permanent, because a dryer can “cook” stains into fabric.
Want to save some energy and improve the way your fabrics look when dried?
For best results try and keep similar weight materials in the same load and do not overload the dryer.
And don’t forget the hangers! To get the most from those wrinkle-free and permanent press finishes, items should be removed while slightly damp and place on hangers to dry.
Step 6: Fold and Put AwayStart folding IMMEDIATELY. You will get fewer wrinkles and things are ready to be put away when you’re finished. Do I sound like your mom yet?
I’ll get into more details on bleach insights in my future postings! Stay tuned for more information and in the meantime, I look forward to hearing your questions and thoughts.