Doing Laundry – The Basics
We spend a lot of money on our clothes, but to make them last as long as possible you need to know how to properly launder them. You don’t want to waste money because your clothes need to be replaced prematurely, so follow these easy steps to wash and dry your clothes.
1. Familiarize Yourself with Your Machines
If you haven’t already, it is time to get to know your washing machine and dryer. They are all about the same, but everyone has a feature or quirk that is unique to it only. Since all washing machines and dryers are a little bit different, you will want to become familiarized with the individual intricacies of your machines. Typically, the manufacturer will provide full operating instructions, and troubleshooting tips for common problems.
2. Sort Your Clothes
In order to save yourself time, and make things easier on yourself, it is important to separate your laundry before washing. Once in piles you will also be able to quickly determine how many loads you are in store for. You will also prevent dark colored clothes from ruining your whites, or delicate items from being destroyed by being washed with jeans. For this step you will want to combine all similar items into different piles. For this, there are three main groups:
socks, underwear, linens, t-shirts, wash cloths, etc.
darker garments where the colors may bleed. Jeans, sweatshirts, towels, etc.
fabrics that require special care. Fine linens, lingerie, blouses, etc.
To further refine the sorting process, you can separate these piles further, into heavily soiled and less soiled, or separate by person so it is easier to put them away later. Towels and other similar items that may carry lint, can be washed by themselves in a separate load.
As you sort through your laundry, you should check all pockets and deal with the contents. A stray piece of paper, a pen, or some chapstick is a disaster when it goes throughout the wash. You should also check all snaps, buttons or straps to make sure they are secure and don’t pose a hazard. By carefully reading the care instructions on your clothing labels, you can be sure you are giving proper care to each piece of clothing.
3. Pretreating Stains
Not all stains will come out in the normal wash cycle. These stains can set in and become extremely difficult to remove if you don’t pre-treat them with something first. If you use some Quick’n Brite paste to treat the stain first, it will be able to come clean with normal laundering. Just scratch in a bit of the paste, and the cleaner will do the rest for you. For the toughest stains you will want to let the garment sit over night or for several hours before washing. Most stains that are left untreated will set in, and most times do not come out with laundry soap alone. Most stains will come clean when treated with Quick’n Brite. Even stubborn grass, blood, juice, red mud, etc. For extremely soiled clothes or for stains that have been set in, try pre-soaking instead.
4. Presoaking Clothes
For heavily soiled or stained clothes, a pre-soak is your best option. For this, fill a bucket or utility sink with water and add a cup of Quick’n Brite liquid to it. Let the garment sit overnight for best results. The Quick’n Brite will break apart the stains, so they can be easily washed away.
5. Importance of Water Temperature
Clothing can be washed in either hot, warm or cold water. There are benefits to using each, but you will want to pay attention to the manufacturers care instructions for best results.
Hot water is the best for fast powerful cleaning. Some fabrics can’t be washed in hot water though. Bright colored fabrics, and delicates can be ruined if the water is too hot, but extremely dirty clothes, baby diapers and more are best washed at this temperature. Bleach also works the best when used with hot water. For really bright whites, or to clean stubborn stains, hot water is the way to go.
Warm water is good for clothing prone to wrinkles. It will help prevent wrinkles from forming in the washer. This temperature is also good for cleaning, but is safe for a wider range of fabrics. Permanent press, darks, washable wools, and synthetics are often washed using warm water.
Cold water is the best for bright colors. Bright colors can easily fade when washed with warmer water. To make sure your reds, yellows and oranges stay that way, use cold water when washing them. Cold water is almost always the preferred rinse temperature too. The cold water helps to cut down on the number of suds, and helps clothes rinse clean.
6. Choosing a Detergent
There are literally dozens of detergents to choose from. Most of them work about the same, but many people will stick to a certain one because of price, smell, convenience, etc. Some of the most popular detergent brands are Tide, Cheer, Oxydol, and Gain. All are basically soap, so they work well at cleaning dirt. Always follow manufacturer instructions when using laundry detergent though as individual measurements and ingredients will vary. To wash your clothes without chemicals, use Quick’n Brite. All that it takes is 1/4 cup of the liquid for a whole load.
7. Washing Your Clothes
The best method for washing your clothes is to turn the machine on first and then add soap as the water is filling. Once the soap has been added to the water, then you can add you clothes. This will prevent direct contact with the soap and your clothes, and ensure that it is properly distributed throughout the load. pay careful attention to make sure you do not overload the machine. Too many pieces of clothing will take away from the cleaning power of the detergent used, and the smaller the load, the better the machine is able to agitate and rid clothing of its dirt.
Your washing machine may have a separate compartment for adding liquid bleach or fabric softener; if so, just read the directions on the lid of the machine and add the items when stated. If not, when using bleach, it is best to let the load of clothing wash for five full minutes and then add 1 cup of the liquid bleach. The fabric softener may be added by one cap full when the machine is on its rinse cycle, if no separate compartment is supplied.
8. Drying Your Clothes
Using your dryer is much the same as operating the washing machine. It is important that you are familiar with the settings, and know how to properly operate it. Check garment labels for the right drying temperature and time. Delicates are best protected in the dryer on the gentle, or permanent press cycle because there is usually a cool-down feature added to the end of these cycles allowing the clothes to cool down before the tumbler completely stops. This feature can also be used as a wrinkle release, making ironing unnecessary. For sturdier articles like towels, small blankets, blue jeans, jackets, sweatshirts, and whites, the high setting is preferred.
You will want to be careful not to overload your dryer. If there are too many items your clothes won’t get dry. A large load will hinder the operation of the machine, and restrict air flow. To increase your drying power and decrease the time it takes to dry your clothes, try dryer balls. These all natural fabric softeners will eliminate your need for dryer sheets and liquid softeners.