Laundry is a necessary evil. It seems like it can be a problem for so many people for so many different reasons. But there are reasons to love doing laundry. You can’t beat the smell of freshly washed clothes, or the feeling of fluffy towels hot out of the dryer.
Dryer (or clothesline or drying rack)
Laundry detergent (chose one that smells good and gets things clean. You might have to experiment, but once you find one you like, stick with it. Bargain detergents end up being too expensive because they don’t work as well. Watch for sales on your brand. Powder and liquid are equally good, but you have to be a little more careful with powder and liquid is more expensive)
Pretreater (liquid detergent works. So does Simple Green and Spray and Wash)
Fabric softener liquid or sheets. I recommend sheets if your washer doesn’t have an automatic dispenser. I recommend liquid if you’re line-drying.)
Clothespins (if you’re line-drying) Springtype wooden or plastic are easier to use.
A cup. I use a coffee cup that is dedicated to laundry.
When you first start, you need to read the labels of all of your clothes. They’ll tell you how to wash your clothes, what temperature to wash them in, how to dry them, how to iron them, all the important details. When in doubt, use cold water and line dry, except for sweaters, which should dry flat.
Sort your laundry first by color. I sort into three piles… whites, mediums, and darks. T-shirts and other white items than can’t be washed in hot with bleach go into the medium pile. Then I separate out the delicate clothes like silk. I don’t wear delicates, so this doesn’t happen very often. When I shop for clothes, I always buy clothes than can be machine washed and dried. I have a few unmentionables that require special handling, but not many.
Make sure socks are turned outside out. They won’t get clean if the dirty part is on the inside. Jeans can be turned inside out, especially if you plan to line-dry them outside.
You should not wash underwear and kitchen stuff together. It might be necessary if you don’t have enough kitchen stuff for a separate load, but make sure you use bleach. Always wash diapers (used for baby) separately. Diapers used for cleaning can go into the regular white laundry.
To wash a load of whites (READ THE LABELS. MAKE SURE THEY CAN BE WASHED IN HOT WITH BLEACH), first start the washer filling with hot water. Add a scoop of detergent and a cup of bleach and let the detergent dissolve. Once the washer is about half full and the detergent is dissolved, you can start adding the clothes. Once you have added the clothes, add fabric softener to your dispenser. If you don’t have a dispenser, and you’re line drying, you’ll have to come back in about 15 minutes to add fabric softener.
Close the lid. The washer won’t spin with the lid open.
In 15 minutes, check the cycle. If the rinse cycle has started and the washer is about half full of rinse water, add the fabric softener. Dilute the softener in your cup before adding it and be careful not to let the softener touch any fabric. Undiluted fabric softener stains.
When the laundry is done, take it out and shake it out (this helps get rid of wrinkles), then hang to dry or put in the dryer.
If you’re hanging your laundry, socks and undies can be in the sun, which gives a natural bleaching effect, while darker clothes should be in the shade.
Hang sweatshirts (and t-shirts) by the bottom to avoid clothespin marks on your shoulders. Pin up the arms to keep them from stretching out. Hang jeans inside out to keep them from fading.
If you’re machine drying, clean out the lint filter before starting the dryer. This is essential to do every single time. (You should also check the exhaust hose for lint buildup at least once a week. This is a fire hazard and also makes it take longer to dry the clothes.)
Take the clothes out as soon as they’re dry and while they’re still hot. Fold or hang them right away to avoid wrinkles.
Repeat the process with your mediums (I wash these in warm with non-chlorine bleach) and your darks (unless they’re filthy, I don’t use non-chlorine bleach on them at all.) Never use chlorine bleach on mediums or darks.
If clothes are muddy, run them through a rinse cycle before washing. If clothes are stained, spray them with pretreater before washing.
Don’t use fabric softener on bath towels. It reduces absorbency. You can use a cup of white vinegar in the rinse to make them fluffy.
Some experts recommend watching the order that you wash clothes. They say if you are using public facilities, you should start your laundry with a load of hot whites to kill any germs left from other people, while if you are washing laundry in your own home, you should end with a load of hot whites to kill the germs left from this session. It’s up to you.