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How to Sort Laundry Like a Pro

December 28, 2020

The laundry is just one of those chores that you have to do. After all, your clothes won’t wash themselves! The last thing that you’d want is to have a pile of dirty clothes in your room—pungent odors, anyone? Because that’s what will happen if you leave them in a corner. The sweat and dirt on the fabric will proliferate bacteria growth! Why deal with that when you can just do the laundry, right?

What’s that? You haven’t done it before? Don’t fret—it’s actually quite simple. We guarantee you that you’ll be able to master it in just a few gos! At the end of the day, you just need to familiarize yourself with the different steps. Do that, and you’ll be good to go! Before you know it, it’ll be muscle memory.

Should You Separate Your Laundry?

First things first, you always want to separate your laundry. It might take a little extra time, but it’s definitely worth it. You wouldn’t want to ruin your clothes in the wash, would you? Because that’s a complete possibility if you just throw everything in the washer!

Sort your clothes and they’ll last much longer—this goes for any type of fabric. Keep that in mind and chances are, you won’t run into any mishaps!

Other Benefits of Sorting Your Clothes

This goes without saying but sorting your garments will allow you to use different wash cycles for each load. In other words, you’ll be able to wash similar clothes together, which will save you time in the end. For instance, you can wash activewear with activewear as most of them have the same washing instructions. As a matter of fact, you should always wash the same types of garments together (more on this later) for the best results.

Another benefit is that it will prevent the colors from bleeding. Believe it or not but it’s actually not uncommon for the dyes to be released into the water when certain items are put in the wash (some dyes are more prone to this than others)! As you can imagine, this can discolour your clothes. Trust me, it’s definitely not something that you want to deal with—after all, the discoloration can be permanent! That’s right, there’s a high chance that you won’t be able to remove the bleeds from the item—this is especially true if it’s on a light-colored garment.

How to Separate Your Laundry

We recommend using a laundry hamper with sorting sections—trust me, that will make the task a whole lot easier. Alternatively, you can also use separate laundry baskets.

sorting your dirty clothes

Assuming that you just bought the hamper or baskets, you’ll want to create labels for each of them. How else would you be able to sort your clothes? For instance, you can make a label for light colors, one for dark colors, one for delicates, and one for dry clean only.

From there, you can start to go through your laundry. Don’t just throw the items into the basin, though, make sure to actually read the labels—they will tell you whether or not the garment should be hand washed and other details such as what temperature water to use and how to dry the material.

Different Ways to Sort Your Laundry

There are several ways that you can sort your laundry. We’ll be going over some of the most common methods below.

Note: Want to save time when it comes to laundry day? Consider sorting everything ahead of time—that is, you can put them into different basins at the end of the day when you’re taking them off. That way, all of the sorting will already be done for you by the time you actually have to wash everything!

Sorting by Color

Generally speaking, you almost always want to sort by color. Remember what we said earlier? The dyes can easily transfer from one item to another in the wash. Separate them based on color and you won’t have to worry about this!

sort clothes by color

In terms of specifics, you want to wash like-colors with like-colors. In other words, you want to wash light-colored garments with light-colored garments. Never mix light-colored items with dark-colored items as that can lead to dye transfer.

What’s considered “light”? Colors like yellow, light blue, pink, lavender, and light green. Dark colors would be shades like red, black, navy, grey, and purple. Never want to mix these two categories together when you’re washing your clothes!

Pro-tip: There is still a chance that dyes can transfer from one item to another—even if you separate them by color. If anything, you only lower the risk. Dyes from darker clothes can still bleed onto lighter ones—even if they’re in the same “color group”! Given that, you might want to consider using a commercial color fixative. Available at most department stores, these products can help to reduce fading and bleeding.

Sorting by Fabric

You can also sort your laundry based on the type of fabric. For instance, you can have a load for synthetic materials (e.g. nylon, polyester, spandex, viscose, rayon, etc.) and a separate one for natural fibers (e.g. cotton, wool, linen). In doing so, you won’t have to worry about damaging the fabrics with an improper cycle—you can customize them based on the specific load.

sorting clothes by fabric

Take activewear, for example—they should be washed with a cold, delicate cycle. It’d do you no good to put them together with say your jeans, as their needs are different. For one thing, the latter doesn’t need to be washed on a gentle setting! As a matter of fact, denim should be washed separately. As it is, the fabric is quite coarse; it can easily damage your other items in the wash.

Towels should also be washed separately from your clothes for sanitary reasons. Not only that, but putting them in their own load will make it easier to adjust the wash settings based on their color (yes, you have to sort towels based on colors too!). On top of that, you’ll be able to dry them much easier if they’re in the same load. As you can imagine, wet towels dry much slower than regular garments—they’re thick and absorbent, after all!

Note: While towels should be washed separately, you can put them in the washer with your other clothes as a “buffer.” For instance, you can put in a couple of towels if you’re washing a pair of shoes—the towels will prevent them from being tossed around in the machine.

Sorting by Weight

Color and fabric are not the only things that you want to consider when you’re sorting out your laundry. You also want to keep in mind how heavy the items are. The last thing that you want to do is to wash light and heavy garments together! As you can imagine, that can lead to a considerable amount of friction, which can be damaging to the fabrics.

sorting denim

For example, you do not want to wash heavy sweaters with thin tank tops—this is especially true if the former contains hardware such as zippers. Put them in the same load and the thin items can easily tear or rip in the washing machine.

That’s not all, they’ll also dry at different rates if you use the dryer. After all, one fabric will be much thicker and heavier than the other! Given all that, it’s best to just separate everything based on how heavy it is at the beginning—it’ll save you the headache!

Sorting by Delicates

Always wash your delicates separately from the rest of your clothes. Why? They have a whole different set of care instructions. Put them in the same load as your everyday laundry and they can easily wear out! You wouldn’t want to have to replace everything, would you?

What kind of garments are considered to be “delicate”? A lot, actually. Aside from underwear and bras, items containing silk, silk-like synthetics, lace, embroidery, mesh, sequins, beading, hardware, are also considered to be delicates. Clothes that are labelled “dry-clean or handwash only” fall into this category as well!

Not sure whether or not your new shirt qualifies as a delicate item? When in doubt, leave it out of your normal laundry pile—that way, you won’t have to worry about ruining it with the first wash. There’s no harm in washing something gently, after all. There can, however, be a problem if you wash a delicate item aggressively!

Pro-tip: Just because a shirt or a cardigan looks delicate, doesn’t mean that it is. As it is, it’s not always possible to tell whether or not a fabric is delicate just by its appearance. Instead of that, you should read the care tag label.

Wash Your Heavily Soiled Garments Separately

This goes without saying but you want to consider how dirty an item is as well. For instance, you wouldn’t want to wash a shirt that’s soaked in motor oil with the rest of your clothes—that can cause the oil to transfer onto the other items! At the end of the day, that will only give you more work. Instead of having to treat just one shirt for a stain, you’ll have to treat the entire load!

Ultimately, what you want to do is to make a separate pile for items that need special attention. Once you’re done sorting everything, you can pre-treat them with a detergent solution—that way, they’ll be easier to wash later.

How to Wash “Dry Clean Only” Items

dry clean only

Just because an item says “dry clean only” doesn’t mean that you have to take it to the dry cleaners. It’s still a good idea to separate them from the rest of your clothes, though. If anything, they might be on the delicate side. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons why the manufacturers want you to get them professionally cleaned—that way, they won’t be blamed for any damage.

So, what should you do with the items? You can wash them as normal—but on a delicate setting. If possible, try to wash them by hand as that would be the gentlest. That’s not to say that you can’t bring them to the cleaners, though—that’s always an option.

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