This blog talks a lot about how to care for your clothes before you wash them and how to make sure they are cared for in the dryer, but there is one thing that you can do before you even get as far as the washing machine that will help guarantee laundry success: Sorting it out.
Sorting is not just important to keep bright and dark colors separate from white-colored items, sorting your laundry before washing has other benefits, including:
- Giving you time to turn your clothes inside or right side out, making sure bulky items will get cleaned better. (They will also dry a lot better if the sleeves or cuffs are not folded over in the washer/dryer).
- Checking your pockets to ensure that ink pens, markers, tissues, lip balm, lipstick, crayons, and money, do not end up in the wash and do damage to your clothes or get damaged in the laundry process. (This will help prevent staining of your entire load, then having to spend hours pretreating and rewashing every item).
- Giving you time to check for and find any stains that need to be pretreated. (Particularly helpful when other family members toss stained items in the wash or when there are hidden stains that you weren’t aware of before tossing the item in the hamper).
Clothes can be sorted in the following ways:
- Per Manufacturer’s Label: This is the ideal way to sort your laundry, to guarantee that your items will have their best life. You will likely end up with 3-4 piles of clothes: 1) cold water wash, 2) warm water wash, 3) hot water wash, and 4) gentle/delicate wash; gentle cold water wash
- By Color: This is the next best way to sort your laundry, to guarantee that dark colors don’t bleed their colors onto your lights or whites in the same washer. Sometimes using the manufacturer’s label your light-colored clothes may end up with darks. Many consumers prefer to wash their white-colored clothes separately, regardless of what the label prescribes. You will likely end up with 3 piles of clothes: 1) Dark colors (denim jeans, blacks, blues, reds, etc.)–cold water wash, 2) Medium/light colors (pinks, yellows, pastels, greys, etc.)–warm water wash, 3) Whites (beiges, off-whites; only if NOT using chlorine bleach)–hot water wash
Sorting doesn’t necessarily stop after the laundry goes in the washer. Per manufacturer’s directions or per consumer preferences, once the clothes are washed, they need to be sorted, once more, based on the dryer temperature that will be used; either, high, medium, or low heat or whether items will be air-dried. It does take time but the benefits can be immeasurable if you notice problems BEFORE items hit the dryer, even at low temps:
- If there are still problematic stains on some items or if, heaven forbid, something like an ink pen, missed in the original sorting, stains something in the wash, be thankful that you found it now and not later when the stains are set-in in the dryer. If you have time, right away, you can use some pretreater tricks to try to get rid of the stains and then throw them back in the wash. If you don’t have time, set aside the stained items to work out the stains at your earliest convenience or your next laundry day.
- If you have items such as denim jeans, stretchy clothes, sweaters, or delicates that need to be air-dried, taking the time to sort through the laundry for these items will extend their wearability. Modern dryers are likely to have an air-dry setting, but if you don’t have access to this, simply hang or lay out your items in a room with great air-circulation. They should be completely dry in 12-24 hours (sometimes less, depending on fibers and air circulation–using a house-fan will decrease drying time)
To some consumers, sorting their laundry may seem like a waste of time, but in the long run, sorting will save you a lot of time, effort, and money, if done properly, and your clothes will last longer.