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How to wash clothes and do laundry

Laundry beign loaded into a washing machine

When I was in college laundry was my arch enemy. It was a dark and musty villain that crowded my room and made my room mate complain. I would put it off as long as possible until that inevitable day when I was out of everything and started doing the sniff test to find something to wear. And then it was heaps of clothes of every type and color stuffed into a commercial washing machine at the laundry mat on the corner. A dollar in quarters and a scoop of the cheapest no-name detergent I could find, and the permanent press cycle on cold. Pre-treat stains? Yeah, right! Dryer sheets…what are those?

Yep, those were the days, living it up in an expendable wardrobe with out a care. If something came out of the wash with a permanent stain or rip, I’d just toss it in the garbage can. Of course, then I had an excuse to go shopping to buy something new to replace it. But then I had to venture out into the real world and along came a husband and before I knew it three kids. The time had come and I had to get smart about doing laundry. With literally a dozen loads of laundry a week, I was forced to think back to my teenage years when my mother had be stilled in me the correct way to do laundry. Her rules were simple and really designed to make clothes look their best and last as long as possible. It does take a few more minutes than just heaping everything together in one load, which is why I probably developed laundry amnesia in college, but the little extra effort really does pay off in the long run.

Here are the ten basic rules for doing good laundry:

  1. Do sort, sort, sort! – This is the most important rule of doing good laundry. Be sure to separate whites, colors and darks. But don’t stop there, it is also important to separate out the delicates.
  2. Do read your labels – be sure you check your labels. Something that is dry clean only will be ruined by a run through a conventional washing machine. You may also find special care instructions for drying, type of detergent to use, and how to properly care for the clothing’s fabric
  3. Do choose a good detergent – There are many different types of detergents to choose from. Everything from gentle detergents for babies and people with allergies, to super ultra concentrated lavender scent. Take the time to read labels at the grocery store and pick one that’s right for you. Oh, and to prevent detergent spots and residue on your clothes, add the detergent to your washer before you add the clothes
  4. Do prepare your clothes for washing – this means checking pockets! Many a load of wash could have been saved from lipstick and ink stains if only the time had been taken to check the pockets. Also take the time to zip zippers and close any fasten any hook and eyes (like on pants or bras) they can easily catch on other clothing during the wash cycle and cause tears or rips.
  5. Do use a stain pretreated and bleach – Ideally as soon as you make the stain you should pre-treat it to prevent the stain from setting and becoming permanent. But in any even use a good stain pretreated on any stain before you wash it. And learn the benefits of using bleach. Chlorine bleach can and will make your whites, whiter and brighter. There are also color safe bleaches that will do the same for your colored clothes.
  6. Do use the proper dryer setting – Be careful to only use the highest heat you need. High heat can cause undue wear on many types of fabric and cause colors to fade. If you have the option its best to use an outdoor clothesline.
  7. Don’t overfill the washing machine – This is bad for your clothes and bad for your washing machine. The clothes should lay in there without having to be stuffed. They need room to move around during the spin cycle.
  8. Don’t forget to use dry sheets- Dry sheets help prevent static cling, and consequently that black sock stuck to the back of your sweater, and help keep fabric soft and in good condition
  9. Don’t forget to clean the lint trap – An unclean lint trap is a dangerous fire hazard. It will also prevent your laundry from drying as fast as it could, and prolonged time in the dryer can be damaging to some fabrics.
  10. Do hang or fold clothes as soon as they are dry – Doing this prevents wrinkles and in many cases will prevent the extra effort of…dare I say it…ironing!

See, this stuff is all common sense. My mother would be so proud to know that I’ve remembered all of her rules. Now… if I could just remember how to make those darn swans out of a starched linen napkin!