The Practical Guide to Doing Laundry

The Practical Guide to Doing Laundry


Laundry: the weekly time-consuming chore that ties you up for some hours.  If you’re one of us poor folks who can’t afford help, you’re likely to dread doing laundry, especially if you have to go to a laundromat.  I’ve picked up some best practices on how to do laundry that I share here to help save you some time and energy while preserving your garments.

1. Get a hamper with 2 or 3 divisions (or use 3 buckets)

To save time when doing laundry, get a hamper with 2 divisions – 1 for whites and another for colored clothes – or with 3 divisions if you have clothes that need dry cleaning.  Otherwise get 2 or 3 buckets or whatever containers you want to keep your clothes separated.  It’s much easier than going through a big container and separating everything.

(I can hear men saying, “What do you mean ‘separate’ garments?  Don’t you just throw everything in?”  To avoid whites staining from color bleeds and to prevent whites from turning the color of faint pee, it’s best to separate colors from whites).

2. Wash whites last

Bleach should be all washed away by the time your whites are done washing but to be safe it’s best to wash whites lastly.  Use warm or hot water to wash whites and never pour bleach directly on the garments as some formulas can stain the clothes.

3. Separate your socks

It’s a pain looking for socks in the washing machine – and sometimes you can’t even find them!  There are 2 things you can do:

Get sock clips (this link is from the Container Store but you might be able to find cheaper ones near you).  This is more time consuming to put together but makes it easy to put away socks since you don’t even need to look for the pairs; you might even decide to just put your socks away in the clips if you don’t want to fold them.

Keep a bag of sock clips hanging off the side of your hamper and pair up your socks before throwing them in the hamper.  The clips can go in the dryer, too.

4. Use a mesh bag for small garments

Zippered mesh bags are your laundry’s good friends.  You can put your socks (if you don’t want to use the clips mentioned above) and underwear in the mesh bags so you don’t have to look for and separate your small garments later.  Mesh bags are sold as bags for delicate garments and they save you from the headache of detangling tights or pantyhose from your clothes too.  I don’t recommend bags with strings as they usually open in the wash.

(If you’ll be washing delicate garments with sequins or other decorations you should still turn them inside out to wash even when using the mesh bag).

You should be able to find a mesh bag with a zipper in a big home store or at a local 99-cent type of store.  Hang your mesh bag on the side of your hamper and throw your small garments in there as you take them off.  Don’t fill more than 2/3 of the bag though otherwise your garments won’t dry well.

5. Use cold water for colored clothing

Washing your clothes in cold water prevents or reduces color bleeding and fading as well as shrinkage and overall wear of clothes.  In addition, it reduces a little your energy costs and CO2 emissions.

Unless you work with manual labor your everyday clothing doesn’t need the heavy cleaning hot water provides.  For everyday sweat and dust cold water works just as well.  For heavy sweat spots you can use pre-washing home treatments or buy products specific for this.

6. Dissolve the soap before throwing in clothes

This is for top-loading home machines.  I used to put all the clothes in my machine then throw soap on top but that stained a few delicate garments.  So what to do is run the water first and throw the soap in.  Wait for the water to filla bit and dissolve the soap then throw in the garments.

7. Use drying sheets to prevent static

Especially in the winter, pulling clothes out of the dryer will give you a tiny shock.  Drying sheets prevent this and make your clothes smell good.  (You can use the used drying sheets to clean dust off your computer monitors and TV screens).

8. Use sweat pads to prevent sweat spots

Sweat pads are thin patches that prevent your shirt from touching your underarms and creating a sweaty spot.  There are disposable and reusable pads, though I’ve only seen reusable ones for women as they need to attach to something like a bra strap.  Disposable pads stick to your shirt’s underarms.  I must confess that I didn’t find the disposable pads very comfortable but I know of many people who use them and can’t live without them.

Putting into practice the tips offered in this guide will get your laundry done in a practical and productive manner, leaving you dressed your best for the work week ahead. If you have any other laundry tips, please leave them in the comments!


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Freelance writer and copyeditor currently traveling Europe and South America. Former stressed-out marketing and public relations person in NYC. Likes languages but really doesn't like flowers. Follow her travel blog at http://carpevida.wordpress.com/
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Discussion

  1. gonzalo on the 8th August

    awesome

  2. k on the 8th August

    We also have a rule that you must fold your laundry as you take it out of the dryer – saves a significant amount of time not having to iron it all later – and it seems to get put away faster.

    • Ana da Silva on the 9th August

      That definitely helps a lot.

  3. Dave on the 13th August

    This is awesome stuff! I did the first item about 6 months ago. the kids love it, the wife is trying to get on board with it, and since i came up w/it, i do it all the time. :)

    We put baskets at the bottom of the closet to put the used hangers in. makes it much easier when hanging clothes.

    • Ana da Silva on the 16th August

      Thanks Dave! I’m glad you enjoyed the article :)

  4. Amanda on the 8th February

    My friend and I started a laundry service from our homes a few years ago. We found a little tip that we use on every load now. White vinegar. Add 3/4 cup into the rinse cycle and it acts as a natural fabric softner, saves money, is eco-friendly and helps keep your washing machine clean.
    Seattle Laundry Care

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