How to Do Laundry

As with everything else, if you want to save time when washing, check the care labels on items before you buy them, or have a laundry service from a laundromat drop off service. Avoid garments that have to be dry-cleaned or hand-washed and ideally buy drip-dry items to save ironing.

Sorting your washing

Before you begin your washing, look at the care label in each of your clothes, sheets, etc and sort them into piles, depending on the wash suggested by the care label. You can wash clothes from different care labels together, providing you use the lower of the two recommen­ded temperature washes, but in the long term this will affect the quality and wear of your clothing.


If washed with coloured clothes of the same fabric, whites will gradually become grey; and if mixed with non-colourfast clothes of the same fabric, colourfast fabrics will soon look dull. Sorting your washing correctly takes a minute and ensures that your clothes will be clean and will not cause the colours to run or creases to set into the fabric. Basically your piles should look like this: whites together, reds and browns together, blues and blacks and greens together, hot-wash items tog­ether, hand-wash items together, etc.

Will it run?

If an article has no label, hand-wash it at first in cool water. The next time you wash it, increase the temperature of the water slightly. If it seems to withstand this treatment, try the gentlest machine-wash programme. If you are not sure whether a fabric is colourfast or not, leave a piece of wet cotton wool on an inconspicuous part of the garment for a few minutes. If any dye comes off on the cotton wool, the garment is best hand-washed on its own, or dry-cleaned professionally.

Always wash dark red and dark blue cotton articles separately when they are new as these colours often bleed at first. If you do have an accident in the wash­ing machine and all your wash turns pale blue, remove the item that has bled and immediately put the rest of the wash through the same wash cycle again. It may help to remove the colour.

Delicate fabrics

If garments are antique, very delicate, irreplaceable or very expensive, wash them by the correct method or by hand in cool water or take them to be pro­fessionally dry-cleaned. Loose covers, net curtains and washable suits are best washed with care. If in any doubt, it is always best to go to a specialist cleaner. Embroidered textiles, tapestry, needle­work and pile fabrics, such as velvet, velveteen, chenille and delicate silk damask should all be dry-cleaned.

If the manufacturer suggests dry-cleaning a garment it is because the colours will run in water or because the fabric will shrink enormously or because trimmings, pads, etc will not wash. It may be that the manufacturer is just playing safe, but unless you are prepared to risk ruining the item by hand-washing it, have it dry-cleaned.

Loading the washing machine

Most weekly washes divide into two or three groups. When loading your wash­ing machine, do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended weight for the machine and certainly never force clothes in until the drum is tightly packed or clothes will be badly washed and very creased. Most towels and towelling nappies are very absorbent, so reduce the load if it is all or part towels, or nappies. Also reduce the load for man-made and drip-dry non-iron fabrics according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Before washing

Before you start washing, make sure all the pockets are empty and that all holes and tears are mended, as washing will make them bigger. Close zips and hooks, open shirt buttons, as they are more difficult to open before ironing when the shirt is still damp, and put stockings and tights in a pillowcase to stop them wrapping round everything and each other.

Some woollens, even when labelled hand-wash, can be machine-washed on a low temperature. Some machines even have a wool label control especially designed for this. Wrap woollens in a towel before putting them in the wash­ing machine as this keeps them in shape. Do not dry woollens in a tumble drier unless the care label on the garment says it is safe to do so.


While the first wash is on, remove any stains from items due for the second wash. If collars and cuffs are very soiled, scrub them lightly by hand first with a bar of household soap and a nail brush before putting them in the machine with the rest of the wash; or use a stain remover. Often pre-soaking really dirty items, like tablecloths, napkins and badly soiled football shorts, in a plastic bucket filled with a warm water proprie­tary pre-wash product is the best way to begin to clean them.

Never soak silks, woollens, leather, fabrics with flame-resistant finishes, drip-dry or non-colourfast fabrics. Never put biological detergents in metal buckets, or soak metal zip fasteners in a biological detergent solution as it will cause the metal to rust. Never soak whites and coloured fabrics together in case colours run – there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a favourite white item come out of the wash tinted a delicate shade of pink or blue!

Hot wash

Boil handkerchiefs, face-flannels and baby’s nappies every few washes to keep them clean or soak them in nappy steri­lizing solution before putting them in the washing machine (nappies should be soaked before every wash). Always rinse nappies well, as any remaining soap can irritate your baby’s skin.


Drying clothes

Tumble-driers are expensive to run, waste energy and clothes do not smell as fresh afterwards. If you must use a tumble drier, use it on the cool setting. Most fabrics will crease less in a cool tumble and there is less danger of shrinkage. Woollens and other knitted fabrics should not be tumble dried at all.

Useful tips

  • Most fabrics need less ironing if you give them a good shake, stretch them to remove creases and then hang them up, either indoors or outside. Hang­ing pleated skirts and other items on hangers can also reduce ironing
  • Lay knitted fabrics flat on a towel to dry having first pulled them gently into shape
  • Fabrics you wish to iron later, such as silks, chiffons, crepes, cottons and linens, should not be allowed to dry out completely. They could all be rolled together and left for a few hours to dry out a little and then ironed
  • Nylon is discoloured by the sun, and wool and silk are weakened. Dry them indoors

Filed Under: Home & Maintenance


About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.