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How to Do Laundry: 9 Simple Steps to Fresh & Clean

Jennifer L. Betts
Doing laundry

There are not many people that do a happy dance when it come time to do the laundry. However, learning how to do the laundry properly from sorting to folding can save you time and money. Get the steps for washing, drying and even ironing all of your clothes.

Getting Ready to Wash Clothes

When you are getting ready to do your laundry, there are several tools you're going to need to get it done properly. Before you even start your laundry, you'll need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Pre-treater or vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Fabric softener
  • Baskets
  • Hangers
  • Iron
  • Ironing board

Step 1: Sorting Laundry

When you are sorting your laundry, it is important to put whites with whites and colors with colors. You also need to check the label and understand your laundry symbols. Though it may seem like a secret code, it's really not. It can pretty easily be broken down into:

  • Washing in cold water
  • Washing in hot water
  • Handwashing clothes only
  • Bleach, non-chlorinated bleach, or no bleach at all

Once you have a handle on your laundry symbols, you'll want to sort clothes by following these steps:

  1. Create piles based on the type of clothes like shirts and socks, jeans, towels and bedding, baby clothes, delicates, etc. These usually have the same laundry instructions.
  2. Sort your piles into light and dark.
one colored one white pile of washing

Step 2: Pre-Treating Stains

Pre-treating stains is an important step to ensuring that your laundry comes out looking fresh and clean. The method that you use for pre-treating the stain is going to depend on the stain itself. For example, you might use a different method for getting out a butter stain than you will for removing an ink stain. A hair dye stain might also have a different method that works. However, for your run of the mill stains you can't go wrong with:

  • Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle
  • Commercial pre-treater like Shout stain fighter

With your preferred stain fighter in hand, you're going to flatten out the laundry, then:

  1. Spray or brush the pre-treater on to the clothing.
  2. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes or time listed in the instructions
  3. Continue through all your stained clothing.

Step 3: Choosing the Right Detergents

Not all detergents are created equal. While there are standard laundry detergents, there are also those design for delicate laundry, high efficiency washers, etc. You want to choose the detergent that will best fit your load. For example, Wisk is an all purpose laundry detergent. But, if you want to go a more natural method, you might try making your own detergent or using vinegar for laundry. This is also the time when you will decide on using bleach, fabric softener, etc. Follow the instructions for each individual laundry aid.

Measuring Detergent

Once you've chosen your detergent, you will:

  1. Measure out the proper amount for your load size based on the instructions.
  2. Add the detergent to the washer before adding clothes. If you have a dispenser, you might add it there instead.

Step 4: Choosing Cycle and Water Temperature

Temperature and water cycle can make the difference between clean laundry and ruined laundry. To choose the right one, follow these steps:

  1. Based on the laundry symbols of your load, you will choose a water temperature: cold, warm or hot.
  2. Using the laundry symbols, choose a washer cycle. The cycle can vary based on your machine, but typically include normal, gentle and permanent press. For example, delicates take a gentle cycle.

Step 5: Load the Washer

With your temp and cycle in check, it is time to start adding your clothes to the washer. It is also the time when you will double check your clothes.

  • The clothes should not be wadded.
  • Check for stains you might have missed.
  • Pull out and check pockets for paper, jewelry, etc.

Once everything is correctly in the washer, you will close the lid and start the cycle.

Clothes Being Washed In Washing Machine

Step 6: Unloading the Washer

As soon as the cycle ends or as quickly as you can, you want to remove the clothes from the washer. Leaving clothes in the washer too long can lead to a stagnant smell and them needing rewashing. Once removed, the clothes that can't be dried, like wool, can be laid flat or placed on a hanger. The remainder of your laundry will go into the dryer.

Step 7: Drying Your Clothes

You will want to promptly add your clothes to your dryer. If you didn't sort them by weight or fabric before this step, you will want to now. Using too high heat on some clothes will cause them to shrink. Once your clothes are placed in the dryer, you will:

  1. Use your laundry symbol to choose the best setting for your clothing.
  2. Clean the lint screen of any trapped lint.
  3. Hit start.
father doing laundry

Step 8: Ironing Laundry

If your clothes are wrinkle free, you may choose to skip this step. However, if not, you will want to ensure that you iron your clothes for their fabric and style. For example, shirts will take a different ironing method than a skirt.

Step 9: Folding and Putting Away

Everyone has their own separate method for folding laundry. It is also going to vary based on the type of clothing you are folding. A few folding tricks include:

  • Match socks and roll them together.
  • Fold dress pants over a hanger.
  • Fold jeans into thirds.
  • Tuck sleeves in before folding shirts into thirds.
  • Button and straighten collars of collared shirts before tucking sleeves and folding into thirds.
  • Fold towels in half lengthwise then into thirds.
  • Fold washcloths in half, then half again to make a square.
  • Hang shirts and dresses on hangers.

These are just a few folding tips; however, your overarching purpose is to make sure that the clothing is neat and small enough that it will fit easily into a dresser. It is also helpful to place each person's clothing into their own pile or basket. Once clothing is folded, you will want to place it in the appropriate room or dresser. And with that, you have mastered the art of doing laundry.

folding laundry in living room

Tips for Managing Laundry

There are several things that you can do to make laundry day a little easier. For example, rather than throwing all the dirty laundry in one basket, have several baskets available for different types of laundry. This can save you sorting time. Other laundry hacks include:

  • Pre-treat stains when they happen to cut a step.
  • Do laundry daily to keep it from becoming overwhelming.
  • Pull your laundry that needs ironing from the dryer before it's done to save ironing time.
  • Think about using a detergent with bleach alternative to save having to add an additional chemical.

Perfect Laundry Every Time

Laundry is not one of the most exciting household chores. However, it is something that needs to be done daily if not weekly. Make sure you are doing your laundry right the first time to avoid your new wool sweater being given to your dog.

How to Do Laundry: 9 Simple Steps to Fresh & Clean