Introduction: How to Do Laundry in 16 Steps

Picture of How to Do Laundry in 16 Steps

This is for those who aren’t familiar or have never used a washer and dryer in their own home. It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it.

Equipment and Material Needed

- Top Load High Efficiency Washer (newer version)

- Front Load Dryer (older version)

- Laundry Detergent (liquid or powder)

- Fabric Softener

- Dryer Sheets (if desired)

- Hangers for any clothes you wish to be hung up after cleaning or a clothesline

- Iron and Ironing Board (optional)

Step 1: Separate Clothes

Picture of Separate Clothes

Separate

clothes into different categories:

- Whites

- Colors

Then divide into heavy materials, like cotton and wool and lighter materials, like polyester and silk. Also separate out delicates. Delicates are clothes that should be cleaned by hand.

You need to separate whites and colors because if you wash them together and they mix, then the colors will run into each other and will cause bleeding; meaning the colors will run onto the white and possibly will stain. You will notice that your clothes will appear to look dingy if they are light colored and can bleed if mixed with red or black especially. Whites will look dingy mostly by using hot water otherwise use cold water to remain the original color.

Heavier items could cause any type of damage to a delicate fabric if mixed together, leading up to a rip in the thinner item.

Step 2: Select Water Temperature

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Check label on tag of clothing piece and decide a temperature for both the washing and rinse cycle.

The correct wash water temperature directly affects the performance of your detergent, the wrinkling of your clothes, and the lifespan of those clothes.

Hot laundry: 130 degrees farenheit or more and 54 degrees celcius or more

Best for white clothes, very dirty, or greasy clothes, diapers, and sturdy fabrics that remain their dye.

Choose hot water for germ killing matters. It can shrink or fade some items, so read article carefully so that you know what you’re dealing with.

Warm: 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more and 32 degrees Celsius or more

Does a good job in getting grimy clothes cleaned

Minimizes color fading and wrinkling

Use for light colors that won’t run including regular and sturdy fabrics, towels, jeans, cottons, sheets, sturdy play wear, school uniforms, 100% manmade fibers, blends of natural and manmade fibers, and moderately soiled clothes

Provides great cleaning of clothes and lessens the chance that they’ll fade or shrink.

Cold water: 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more and 27 degrees Celsius or more

For dark or bright colored clothes that may run or fade

For delicate fabrics like washable silk, swimsuits, active wear, and lingerie.

Will minimize the shrinking of washable woolens and is okay for lightly soiled clothes.

Use cold water for bloodstain removal, red wine stain removal, and coffee spills. Warm water could set these stains.

If doing cold water wash, check for stains and pretreat stained areas as needed, detergent doesn’t clean heavily soiled areas well in cold water.

To get dark or bright colored clothes clean, think about adding a little more washing detergent to cold water.

For rinse cycle, cold water is excellent for all types of loads.

For embellished items, you want to turn these inside out to prevent anything from falling off or ripping while it is in its cycle

Another Benefit: A cold-water rinse saves energy per load by up to one-third, and helps minimize wrinkling in synthetic and sturdier fabrics.

Step 3: Select Load Size

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Decide a load size depending on the amount of clothing.

If the washer is less than ¼ full, small is recommended. For 2/4 full use the medium setting, and for ¾ full use the large setting.

Overcrowding is never a good idea. Clothes need a certain amount of room in the washer to move around. This way the clothes are subjected to the right amount of sufficient water and detergent. Abrasion helps them get clean as well since they have enough room to move around. If the clothes are subjected to enough water, then the dirt, grime, sweat and detergent cannot possibly be released. This comes down to leaving you with dingy, still dirty clothes.

Overcrowding can cause clothes to wrinkle since there isn’t enough room in the drum of the washer for them to move around. When moving your clothes from the washer to the dryer, and you can tell they’re already wrinkled, then you know that you overloaded the machine.

Lastly, your clothes can pill from overloading. The clothes rub against each other too much and this abrasion causes them to look older faster and to pill.

Pill means, “bobble,” basically fuzz balls will start to form on clothing, if you ever seen that before.

Step 4: Select Load Type

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The washing machine has a dial that you can turn to select between whites and colors. These settings are further divided by weight from light to heavy.

Using the correct cycle for washing and spinning will help clean your clothes and keep them looking their best.

Delicate, Hand Wash and Wool:

Can have similar and interchangeable setting features. They should be used for fragile items that may be damaged by other cycles. They feature lower speeds of agitation or tumbling during the wash cycle as well as lower speed spins. The lower speed and shorter wash cycle will help prevent stretching and ripping of fabric.

Rapid Wash or Speed Wash:

Usually you wouldn’t use this because laundry would be done in full loads; but in this world stuff may need to be done last minute. This setting has a shortened wash cycle and a high-speed spin to shorten drying times. On a regular basis-it is not recommended for heavy soiled items or delicate items.

Permanent Press, Wrinkle Control, Casual Clothes or Dark Colors:

Use this for synthetic fabrics, blended fabrics, permanent pressed clothes and any colored fabrics. These three cycles are interchangeable and use medium-speed wash action, a low speed spin and a cool-down or rest process to reduce wrinkling.

Normal:

For cotton or blended fabrics with average soil. This cycle combines high-speed wash action and high-speed spin making it harsher on clothes.

Heavy Duty:

Use this cycle for sturdy fabrics like towels and jeans. Also appropriate for heavily soiled items. The cycle offers a longer wash cycle with high-speed agitation and a high-speed spin to remove as much moisture as possible.

Bulky:

Some washers have this cycle for items such as blankets, comforters, rugs, and pillows. It begins with a soak period to allow water and detergent to completely penetrate the items. A medium wash action and spin is then used to help prevent the washer from becoming off-balance.

Sheets:

These settings on washers should be used for any linens or large pieces of fabrics. This wash action is set to prevent large items from tangling or waddling up into a ball.

Whites:

This is designed for bleachable items. It has a high-speed wash and a high spin speed. This cycle will dispense the liquid chlorine bleach at the correct time in the washing process.

Steam:

Many top-level washers offer a steam cycle, it doesn’t wash the clothes but it provides a deep cleaning. It’s used to remove wrinkles and freshen a garment.

Rinse and Spin:

This cycle does not use detergent and doesn’t provide deep cleaning. It does rinse and spin out the moisture from the fabric. It can be used after dyeing fabric or if you are just rinsing off surface dust.

Final Setting Selections to Make:

Soil Level:

Some washers have changeable soil level settings. If you select low soil, the agitation time will be shorter and increases, as the soil level is set higher.

Final Spin Speed:

If your washer has settings for the final spin speed that can be changed, select a lower spin speed for delicate fabrics as this will reduce wrinkling, tangling, and damage to fabric. Higher final spin speeds extract more water and reduce drying time and help you select a quicker dryer cycle.

Step 5: Start Washer

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This is done by pressing a button or by pulling out the dial that indicates the load type. Let the washer run until it is about ¼ full, then stop it.

It can be a hassle because the lid automatically closes when you start a load just for safety precautions, so make sure that you have the clothes in detergent towards the back, correct water temperature, type of load, how many rinses, and if it’s a small, medium, or large load. This will make it easier for you to get your laundry done as quickly as possible.

Step 6: Add Deteregent

Picture of Add Deteregent

First, open the lid of the washer and second, measure the desired amount of laundry detergent (liquid or powder). The load size generally, determines the amount of detergent needed. The amount will vary based on the detergent used. Lastly, add the detergent to the washer, some washers may have a specific place to pour the detergent. Have the washer run for about 10 seconds to allow the detergent to mix in with the water.

Detergent is a water-soluble cleansing agent that combines with impurities and dirt to make them more soluble and differs from soap in not forming a scum with the salts in hard water. Pods are great to use because it’s like a little packet that has everything you need in it to get something cleaned and freshened. Use Pods on big loads since they are small packets and expensive. Use Tide on small loads because it’s a bigger box of detergent and it is less expensive. Another tip for stain booster is by using Borax; it’ll take away about anything.

Step 7: Add Clothes to Washer

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While the lid is open, slowly add the clothes in, one at a time to make sure they aren’t tangled.

Caution: Avoid filling the washing machine more than ¾ full. This will allow clothes to be agitated or move briskly during the washing cycle.

Make sure right colors are together. Towels don’t matter as much, but they could still end up bleeding possibly.

Step 8: Add Fabric Softener (optional)

Picture of Add Fabric Softener (optional)

You may want to add this because it is used to soften fibers, reduce static cling, and even add a scent to your laundry.

Caution: Avoid using fabric softeners on towels, athletic sportswear, flame-retardant clothing, and anything made of microfiber.

Fabric Softener, also known as fabric conditioner is a chemical compound that is typically applied to laundry during the rinse cycle in a washing machine. Available as solutions and solids, and may also be impregnated in dryer sheets used in a clothes dryer. Pods have everything in it already including fabric softener and it brightens stains.

Step 9: Select Drying Temperature

Picture of Select Drying Temperature

Usually determined by the type of fabric. Cottons should be set on high heat usually, easy care clothes like (polyester blends) should be on medium heat, and delicates on low heat. Some dryers also allow clothes to be fluffed without using heat. Use medium on towels, but also use medium on basically anything to keep it at a steady, safe temperature.

Regular (Warm/Hot) cycles are for drying non-permanent press items such as towels, underwear, jeans, and diapers.

Permanent Press (Warm) is for permanent press and outerwear garments of Nylon, Acrylic, Polyester, and blends of these with other fibers. It is essential to remove these garments from the dryer immediately when tumbling stops since they will become wrinkled if left in the dryer basket. If your dryer has a cool down cycle, take advantage of it to help eliminate shrinkage and wrinkling.

Delicate (Cool) cycles are for lingerie; “hand washable” items, machine wash and dry woolens, and those heat sensitive items labeled “tumble dry-low.”

Step 10: Select Drying Time

Picture of Select Drying Time

Like Drying Temperature, the fabric type determines drying time. Many dryers have several settings within the type of fabric. Dryers include a timed drying cycle, (depends on how big of load) unless you want to do permanent press or air-dry and this allows for drying of clothes that didn’t dry for some people, or need a small amount of drying time.

Step 11: Check the Lint Trap

Picture of Check the Lint Trap

Do not skip this step. It’s very important that the lint trap, used to collect lint from clothes that dried, be cleaned out between each use of the dryer. It is usually on the inside of the dryer, just inside of the door. If you don’t change the lint trap, then you are just waiting for a fire to occur and your clothes won’t dry efficiently.

Step 12: Add Clothes to Dryer

Picture of Add Clothes to Dryer

Just like adding clothes to the washer, you want to take time to separate the clothes so they do not become tangled. Tangled clothes may take longer to dry. Again, make sure specific clothes are in this cycle, have correct temperature and time drawn out, check lint, and add a dryer sheet if wanted.

Step 13: Add Dryer Sheet (optional)

Picture of Add Dryer Sheet (optional)

If you use a fabric softener during a wash cycle, you don’t need to add a dryer sheet. Both of these tools help to prevent static cling and can sometimes add a fragrance to clothing items. Now days, we tend to view this as old-fashioned but if you weren’t getting this scent from your original detergent, then I would try adding this into your laundry.

Step 14: Start Dryer

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After you select the drying temp and drying time, close the dryer door and start the machine. Some feature a button that needs to be pressed and other may have a dial that needs to be turned and then released.

Caution: Don’t leave clothes unattended. A fire hazard could potentially occur if it isn’t maintained or used improperly. You just have to push the button, that’s it.

Step 15: Remove Clothes

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Some items may need an entire drying cycle. Take out dry items and leave damp ones in to finish the drying cycle. You may want to hang up clothes that are prone to getting wrinkles, like a dress shirt or dress pants. The casual clothes can be folded in a way that you’re accustomed too. The biggest thing is that you must get the clothes out right away because it keeps them fresher, unwrinkled, easier to fold, and they look nicer that way.

Step 16: Ironing (optional)

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Some items may need ironed when done with drying. You must have an iron or an ironing board of some kind. Ironing is used to remove wrinkles, especially for dressy clothing. It’s kind of in the past because people don’t want to hassle with it so they either don’t do it or they take it to a dry cleaner’s to get steamed. People will mostly likely press their own clothes if they are doing business travel, on occasion.

1) Have a spray bottle handy or use an iron that has place for water to be added to it.

2) Place the ironing board near an electric outlet.

3) Plug in and turn on iron. Position the face of the iron perpendicular with the ironing board.

4) Many irons have a dial that sets.

I chose this because it seemed simple, yet had quite a few steps. Also, many people get stressed out about doing laundry, so by following this quick guide into doing your own laundry, maybe it’ll be less stressful and rather be helpful and quick to do now, the next time you try. Personally, I never knew how to do laundry either until now, so it was a great experience for me to test out myself.

Comments

Prfesser (author)2015-12-11

This should be required reading for every college student!! Most of 'em just throw everything into one load. (That's how I ended up with a pink lab coat :))

Just a note: many newer washers have a lid that locks when the washer is started. For those, the clothes and detergent are added before starting the washer. (And liquid bleach if used is poured into the bleach dispenser before starting, too.)

seamster (author)2015-12-10

I'm going to make my kids read this. They can do their own laundry from now on! ;)

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