How to wash clothes so they get clean safely? It's not as easy as it seems, as anyone who's ever pulled a pink shirt out of the washing machine when a white one went in knows.
There are 3 key things you should always do to get your clothes clean and help them retain their original color and texture. They are:
If you take the time to do each of these three steps, you'll be rewarded with clothes that actually last longer, and they'll look better, too. Here's how to wash clothes, step by step.
The secret to washing clothes successfully and getting everything cleaned safely is to sort your laundry into load of similar colors, wash cycles, and water temperature.
Look to the clothing care labels on your garments for guidance. They make selecting the right machine settings simple. As you sort, be on the lookout for items that have spills or stains, or that are really dirty. (Very dirty clothes can actually transfer dirt in the wash to lightly soiled clothes).
Set these items aside for pretreating before you wash. (See the Stain Removal Guide for tips on removing 9 common clothing stains.)
Let your fabrics determine the cycle and water temperature for your laundry if the label doesn't tell you:
How important is the right temperature? It directly affects the performance of your laundry detergent, the wrinkling of fabrics, and the life span of your clothes. Take your time to make the right water temperature choice.
Clothing labels are your best guide to choosing the right wash water temperature. If a label is not legible, here's a quick guide to help you choose the best temperature:
But for the rinse cycle, cold water is excellent for all types of loads. Another benefit: A cold-water rinse can reduce the energy used per load by up to one-third, and it helps minimize wrinkling in synthetic and permanent-press fabrics.
Place clothes loosely in the washer, taking care not to wrap items around the agitator, where they could become tangled during the cycle. Clothes should move freely through the water for optimal cleaning.
If you're not sure, lift the lid during the cycle. Properly loaded clothes should sink and then reappear on the surface.
Overloading causes clothes to rub together - breaking down the fibers - and reduces the effectiveness of your laundry detergent. It also allows dirt to be redeposited on clothes instead of heading down the drain with the rinse water.
If you have several small loads, dry them together to protect your clothes from heat damage and to hasten the drying process. Drying small loads reduces the tumbling effect produced by a pile of clothes rotating all together, and therefore actually prolongs the amount of time it can take to dry the clothes.
Set the dryer cycle to Regular or High if your load is all cotton (and preshrunk) fabrics; choose Permanent Press if the load consists of polyester or other synthetic fabrics; select the Low, Gentle, Delicate, or Air-Dry setting for fragile or sheer fabrics.