Why it’s important to separate laundry

Not the sexiest of subjects I know. A few years ago I would have been rolling my eyes reading something like this and thinking…who has the time to separate laundry these days? Just chuck it in, stick in one of those colour catcher sheets, shut the door and get on with real life. Right?

What I know now is that as boring and tedious and doing the laundry may be, this is part of ‘real life’ and you can actually make life harder for yourself by not taking the time to do it properly the first time. Especially when you have children and tons of laundry.

Sorting Clothes by Color

One of the more obvious ways to sort laundry is by colour. Sorting the laundry into distinct piles, whites, darks, lights, for example has lots of advantages and avoids the big mishaps.

If you are washing your whites on a hot wash, make sure that all the fabrics you have included can withstand the temperature. A hot white wash should include the kinds of sturdy cottons that can withstand the hotter temperature. White towels, white shirts and white cotton underwear can be included in this. Don’t just casually throw in white EVERYTHING and hope for the best.

A ‘dark’ wash can include greys, blacks, navies, reds, dark purples and similar colours – they can all be sorted into this load. I’d include things like school sweatshirts and my one shoulder high neck black dress in this category.

For your ‘light’ wash, you are looking at things like the more pastel-type colours such as pinks, lavenders, light blues, lights greens and yellows, so add all of them into this pile of laundry. Things like this sage one shoulder midi dress I’d include in a lights wash for example.

You could have a ‘jeans’ wash if you have enough of these items every week. Turn all jeans inside out and wash anything in a denim material in this wash.

Sorting Clothes by Fabric Weight/Type

Colour is not the only consideration when sorting clothes for the purposes of washing. The weight of the garment should be considered as well. For example, if you have several heavy cotton items, or denim, then you don’t want to wash those with thin t-shirts, tops or blouses. Washing light- weight clothes with heavy material can possibly tear or rip those garments.

You can also sub-sort your washing, so for example, during the colder weather when you might be washing more knits, you may need to sort by colour and fabric. So you could wash your black knitted crop jumper with your geometric printed knitted cropped jumper together with no problem.

You might also want to have a ‘delicates’ wash- this category includes several types of clothing – lingerie, washable silks, and any clothing you need to protect from the harsh process of the washing machine. You can then use the hand wash setting on your machine, or delicate setting if you have one and slow the rate of the spin cycle.

You also need to consider the types of fabric if you are using a tumble dryer, if different types of fabric are placed in the dryer at the same time, they obviously won’t dry at the same rate since one fabric is much heavier than the other.

It’s best just to separate these types of garments from the start and wash and dry them in two separate loads.

Sorting for Effective Stain Removal

One aspect of sorting that’s important to consider is stain removal. Clothes that aren’t especially dirty are one thing, but clothes with tough or excessive stains may not come clean if they aren’t treated before washing. So pull out the clothes with deep grass stains, food stains, or mud stains first, and soak them or apply laundry detergent directly to the spot before washing. 

Make sure that you pre-treat the stains for the type of stain as well. For example, many stains can be pre-treated by soaking them in a mixture of warm water and vinegar for an hour or so, or you may want to use a specific stain remover. The more work you put in before the item goes in the washing machine, the better the outcome of the stain.

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