Ducks 'n a Row: How To Wash Clothes In 5 Easy Steps

29 February 2016

How To Wash Clothes In 5 Easy Steps

Wash Day a day of the week on which a household's clothes, bed linens, etc., are washed. So...what are you doing with your laundry on wash day?

laundry tips, laundry symbols, wash, clothes

Don't you just love new clothes? New outfits are the ones we like to wear most. They are crisp, fresh and the colors are bright. They look new because they are new. 

When an outfit is new, we certainly aren't looking to replace it anytime soon. Right? Hopefully, months down the road, our not-so-new outfit will look as nice as the day we bought it. Does it work? Sometimes "yes", sometimes "no." Time, wear and tear, and laundering weaken the fabric and its luster fades.
So let's get longer life out of our clothes by caring for them properly. Here are some tips on how to wash clothes and keep them looking their best, longer! 
Got tweens, teens and newly-wed just learning this process? Go to Facebook and share this post with them! 
Fun true story: when I was in college a girl who lived on our hall met her future husband in the laundry room. He was one of those "gorgeous hunks" that all the girls drooled over! Anyhow, he was attempting to wash his clothes. Banging on the washing machine with his fist, speaking some expletives, he was a man in distress. 
Mindy finally got the courage to intervene. He thought the machine was broken - no suds. She gently walked the sheepish young man through the process of adding DETERGENT to the water. It either was the best pickup line ever or providence. By the time we all graduated, their wedding date was set and he knew how to do laundry!

Step 1: Identify

Laundry Labels Are Key
Laundry labels are there for a reason. They are the manufacturer's guidelines on how best to clean and care for that particular garment. Take time to read it and do not remove it (even if it's scratchy on your neck.)
Laundry tags are most often found inside the back collar or on the lower part of a side seam. In slacks and skirts, they may be on the back of the wasteband. Occasionally, manufacturers print the instructions right on the garment instead of using a separate tag.
It used to be that all labels had straight forward written instructions such as "Cold water wash, separately with like-colors" or "Dry Clean Only".
Now there are universal symbols that mean the same things but, if you haven't learned the symbols, they are not helpful. Here is a comprehensive list of the laundry symbols and their meanings: LAUNDRY SYMBOLS 
You might want to print them out and keep them near the washing machine for future reference.
How to wash clothes in 5 easy steps

Step 2: Sort

laundry, wash, clothes care
Do not wash anything until you sort the clothes. At first, this may seem tedious. It is an all-important step, though. Don't skip it. Eventually you will know your wardrobe well enough that this step will take no time at all.
  1. Get out somelaundry baskets and sort your dirty clothes according to colors. First: darks and lights. Then, types of colors. White, black and red are best kept exclusive to same color. If you mix them, your whites will become pink or dingy grey and will never to return to their former luster. Black and navy blue can be washed together--most often they will be in the "cold water wash" pile to keep them from fading.
  2. Sorting does not stop with color. Next, READ THE LABEL to determine HOW to wash them. Some items may be delicates that should only be washed by hand. Others may be "machine wash, lay out to dry". Trust the label. If it says "lay out to dry" then DO NOT put them in the dryer. Use a sweater dryer or table top with a towel on it to lay them out till they are dry.
  3. Sort by type, as well. For instance, white towels or colored towels can be two separate loads. Though towels can be washed with other types of clothing, washing them separately makes putting them away so much easier at the end of the process.
  4. Check them for stains and treat accordingly.

You have now sorted the clothes by:
  • Color
  • Treatment
  • Type
laundry, cleaning, laundry symbols

Step 3: Add Water

When it comes to water, you have to consider the size of the load and its contents.
Water Level: select your water levels according to the volume and weight of the load. A full load of nothing but socks will still agitate freely, though there are many. A load of bath towels or heavy sweaters will weigh down quickly. Pack the tub lightly to allow free movement when the water is added. Light loads may only require 1/2 a tub of water. Heavy loads will need a full tub.
Water Temperature: Water temperatures count! Not everything can be washed in warm water. Almost nothing can be washed in hot. When in doubt, cold or cool temperatures are your safest choice.
How to wash clothes, laundry symbols guide, cleaning, clothes

Step 4: Add Detergent

Detergents come with instructions, too. Start the washer using the correct water temperature: cold, cool, warm or hot. (Hot is SELDOM used. It is harsh on clothing.) Add the clothes and then the detergent. Use the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer.
Detergents: use laundry detergent that lines up with the type of clothes you are washing. Detergent with bleach should only be used for whites. Some detergents include color-safe bleaches designed to brighten the existing color. Pay attention to the labels on the clothes to be sure that there is not a warning, otherwise it'll be fine.
Fabric Softeners: some fabric softeners are added into to the wash load in a special dispenser. Read the bottle for specifics. You may prefer to use dryer-sheets, which are used in the dryer, instead.
Bleach: some whites need bleach to get really clean, others say specifically "do not bleach." The fabric probably contains a synthetic fiber that will turn color (yellow?) when in contact with bleach. If your whites are safe to bleach, add the bleach through the dispenser in the washing machine itself. No dispenser? Add it after the tub is half-full of water and before adding the clothes to avoid spotting.
How to wash clothes in 5 easy steps; laundry symbols

Step 5: Choose Your Cycle

Cycle: the cycle you use is determined by how heavy or delicate the clothes. Denim jeans require more agitation than, let's say, sheer nightgowns. Pick the cycle according to the type of fabric and recommended care.
Permanent press clothes should be agitated and spin dried more lightly than other types. Your washing machine should have a "permanent press" cycle right on it. And where do you find whether to use it? The label, of course!
Coming soon: Stain Guide - Getting Out Individual Stains
More laundry tips:

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Photo credits:
Wash Day Cat - Pixabay
Clothes Pegs by Salvatore Vuono on Free Digital Photos

Note: this author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything you purchase from Amazon through Ducks 'n a Row will result in a small commission for me. So, in advance, let me say "Thank you ♥ You are a blessing!"  Sinea

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