Introduction: How to Do Laundry

Picture of How to Do Laundry

We all have laundry. Some of us do the laundy and some of have the laundry done for us.

This instructable will show you how to do the laundry, with ideas for making the job easier and ideas for making it more environmentally friendly.

(This instructable is dedicated to LinuxH4x0r, may he learn to do his laundry, sooner rather than later....GASP, did I say that.)

Step 1: Planning the Wash

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If you're the typical individual wearing blue jeans and t-shirts, or polos and khakis, odds are sorting the laundry is a thing of the past. Tossing them all in together makes the job easier.

BUT, here are a few exceptions:

If you have greasy clothes (i.e. garage/mechanic work clothes), wash them separately to prevent grease staining your "good" clothes. Use a paper toweling or clean rag to wipe down the washer afterwards to clean up any residual grease that may have remained. Residual grease in the washer is a disaster waiting to happen.....consider yourself warned!

If you have delicates (i.e. fancy laces and silks), hand wash or use a special bag for them in a gentle cycle.

If you have a lot of heavy items, multiple pairs of jeans, or bath towels, wash them together.

If you are doing family laundry, it may be easier to do each individuals separately as it makes putting the clothes away easier. No guessing--and no one complaining their Hanes are too tight!

If you have any inkling something will bleed or fade, hand wash it. If it doesn't bleed dye when you hand wash it, toss it in the washer the next time around. Remember, most fabrics and dyes are colorfast nowadays.......

Step 2: Prep the Wash

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Prepping the wash is an important step. These tasks will result in cleaner laundry and no mishaps in the wash. (My personal worst was missing some crayons and markers in a pocket!)

Check all pockets to make sure they are empty.
Look for stains and pretreat by pouring a small amount of detergent directly on the stain.
A small amount of detergent, scrubbed in with a toothbrush, works great on ring around the collar.
Snap snaps, zip zippers. (Don't bother with buttons--to time consuming?)

Step 3: Load and Set the Machine

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Actually this step is combined with the previous, for it is simplest to prep and toss clothes into the machine one by one.

Simply, take each piece of laundry out of the basket, check for stains, empty pockets , zip and snap and then toss it into the machine.

When all of your clothes are loaded, add your detergent. Good quality generics are ofter cheaper and work just as well. Unless you have very dirty laundry, save cost and product (remember REDUCE, reuse, recycle) by using only 1/2 to 3/4 of the recommended amount of detergent. (THEY WANT YOU TO USE MORE SO YOU BUY MORE!)

Set your water level. May I suggest doing full loads of laundry to save energy and water.
Select water temperature and cycle. (Most can be done using the warm and regular settings). Start the machine and let it do it's work.

Step 4: Drying Your Clothes

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The most environmentally friendly way to dry your clothes is outdoors on a clothesline.

This requires some pre-thought.
Choose to do the laundry early in the day.
Monitor the forecast and do laundry accordingly. (That is pick a clear, sunny day.)
Line should be in a sunny locale, although remember you might want a small bit in a shady area for those clothes that are susceptible to fading in the sun. (Using trees to suspend the rope works well for this.)

Shake clothing to remove wrinkles before hanging. Smooth hem lines and button plackets between your fingers to prevent wrinkling.

Allow nature to do its thing. Smile, enjoy the breeze and pat yourself on the back for helping the environment!

Remove clothes from line. Fold, sort and put away.

Step 5: If You Use a Dryer.......

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Set dryer time (typically 30-40 minutes for an average load). Remove anything you fear will shrink and line dry it. Allow dryer to do its thing. (During this time think about how using a clothesline would be a small step towards reducing your energy consumption).

Remove clothes as soon as possible. Pull out dress shirts a bit early to prevent wrinkling and avoid ironing. Sort, fold and store.

Step 6: Tips for Reducing Laundry Loads

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Remember, clothes can be worn more than once! Use hook and hangers to keep them wrinkle free and look good for a second (and third wear). DON'T TOSS THEM IN A HEAP!

Have a set of "dirty" clothes for working in the garden, garage, barn. etc.

Use aprons or smocks when cooking or doing crafts such as painting to prevent stains and spills.

Consider washing delicates such as bras and underwear during your shower. CONSERVE THAT WATER!

Step 7: Brighter Brights and Whiter Whites......

Picture of Brighter Brights and Whiter Whites......

Alas, LinuxH4x0r was unavailable for pictures this time.

None-the-less, thanks to LinuxH4x0r for not asking for brighter brights and whiter whites. Thanks to Tuxgirl for keeping her school uniforms neat and clean so she can wear them more than once. Finally, thanks to the Head of the Household for hanging the line and keeping it taut! Can't wait to do your guys' laundry!


AzBishop (author)2016-12-11

I got it in my head from some(where|one) that washing your clothes with hot/warm water doesn't do anything but waste money, as the water never actually reaches the necessary temperature to kill germs/bacteria. Am I right/wrong in my belief? Is there some other benefit I'm not seeing to using hot/warm water?

MartinJ17 (author)AzBishop2016-12-29

There was a show on TV called "How Clean is My House?" and the lady on there always said that bed sheets and other things that might gather a lot of bacteria should always be washed at at least 60C. That will make a lot of the bugs either dead or very sick.

Another idea is to dry the washing on the line in the sunlight and the UV radiation will have the same effect.

SydneysSuds (author)2014-10-18

I would recommend adding the detergent after the has started to fill for top loaders. Thanks for sharing.

SydneysSuds (author)2014-10-18

An ounce of prep is worth a pound of lint. Great Post.

rfraser2 (author)2013-09-12

I have done laundry in every fashion imaginable, used every soap there is, even made my own, and have come up with two undeniable facts: 1) cold water Lemon juice and sun light are awesome for socks 2) all soap IS the same, unless ur using tide. whether ur washing in the tub or in a brand new HE top of the line machine, tide beats the pants off everything else.

goldfishbutt (author)2008-09-02

Amazing! You can tell linuxmom is a pro because we have here an even number of socks!

For those of us still in training, I recommend having a box where socks can live in "purgatory" until you can re-find it's mate which is currently living with that pizza box behind the couch.

linuxmom (author)goldfishbutt2008-09-03

Gasp, I pride myself on having even numbers of socks...... Amazing that you noticed!

goldfishbutt (author)linuxmom2008-10-28

It's a super power that few posses. We all bow to the awesome powers of linuxmom!

bluerface (author)goldfishbutt2011-08-08

I have dicovered an excellent way of dealing with socks thanks to tesco. They do two sets of nice but cheap socks that are black but with coloured toes and heals. I dont like odd socks, but these are great cause they match!!! Instead of pairing them all I have to do is flatten them and pile them in a row! Then it comes to morning and I pick what colour combination I want today! Complementary colours of course.

I dont often loose socks, but now, if I did, I wouldnt know!!! Plus not pairing them saves me lots of time :D

racerrose (author)goldfishbutt2008-10-22

Allow purgatory socks to redeem themselves: Put it over the end of a dowel rod, and sweep it under the dryer, or any other heavy appliance or furniture that collects dirt, shoes, legos, etc. Who knows, it may rescue its own mate?

ybunnygurl (author)2011-01-24

My mother would die if I ever thought of putting a white and black shirt together in the washer. And i will admit whites do get a gray dingy if you wash them with blacks to often.

However those shout color catchers they sell at stores do work, even if they are a little pricey. Some people like me cant put my clothing on a line out side due to HOA rules, so no sun bleaching can happen here.

Mirime (author)2010-06-15

All Hail linuxmom better a landry than any one

linuxmom (author)Mirime2010-06-15

*ducks quickly between the kinda white sock and blushes* Linuxmom thanks you for the comment!

HollyHarken (author)2010-06-10

I see that some of your clothing has embroidery on it. Never, ever, use bleach on clothing with embroidery on it as it will weaken and break the threads. Most of us computerized machine embroiderers use Rayon thread because that is what is available to us in stores. Also if you actually iron your clothing (GASP!) don't iron over the embroidery as it will melt at high temps. I embroider a lot of baby items as gifts, bibs, onesies, etc. Since babies always seem to stain their clothes, new moms tend to use bleach to get the clothes clean again. I also give a lot of embroidered kitchen towels as gifts and those also tend to get bleached as they don't get washed often enough. I iron on a customized tag with the warning not to bleach the item.

albylovesscience (author)2009-09-01

thanks im 14 i have only done laundry 2 times i n my life this will help

D.L.H. (author)2009-08-19

Nice pitch and I liked how it is done 5 stars.

deofthedead (author)2009-08-18

*favorites, 5 stars, has glee.* You have a wonderful way of writing, ma'am, and I couldn't help but laugh throughout this instructable. It's very inspiring, and reminds me so much of my own mother... Thank you!

linuxmom (author)deofthedead2009-08-18

*hides head in apron and blushes* Give your mom a hug the next time you see her and offer to do her laundry!!

Gjdj3 (author)2008-07-27

Lol. The GASP thing has caught on! But anyways, nice instructable. 5 stars.

linuxmom (author)Gjdj32008-08-17

Gasp...a vote would be appreciated....GASP....Linuxh4x0r is still away...and GASP...he only has dial up.....GASP...GASP... this and the pie contest......GASP GASP.... I'm on my own...........GASP

lukeyj15 (author)linuxmom2009-04-07

get some oxygen stop the gasping

Gjdj3 (author)linuxmom2008-08-18

Haha. I voted. The linux family sure knows how to get votes. Lol.

linuxmom (author)Gjdj32008-08-19

Interesting, because none of us has any desires to be a politician.

Gjdj3 (author)linuxmom2008-08-19

Haha. I could see the campaign slogan though. GASP! LinuxFamily '08.

Rock Soldier (author)Gjdj32009-01-02

GASP! LinuxFamily'09. They will keep your clothes clean(and dry)

linuxmom (author)Rock Soldier2009-01-11

LinuxFamily'09 needs your vote and more!

linuxmom (author)Gjdj32008-08-19

Just think...the whole nation could be GASPing!

Gjdj3 (author)linuxmom2008-08-20

Haha. We'd all have clean laundry, virus free OSs, and pie!

Da_Fudge (author)Gjdj32008-12-13

Lol Classic. (((GASP!!!)))

linuxmom (author)Gjdj32008-07-27

5 stars....GASP....... *hides head in laundry and blushes*

mycroftxxx (author)2008-12-12

Congratulations, you are a true mom of the 21st century. I'm betting that during the past almost-eight years has used a user-submitted content site to chasten or encourage their offspring, but it's still really cool and really funny. Also, good/informative Instructible, congrats on your win!

linuxmom (author)mycroftxxx2008-12-13

Hopefully us "elders" are mostly encouraging and creating good rapport..... Thanks you the comment!

sockeye101 (author)2008-12-13

the Last time i dryed my clothes was at camp 2 years ago. i blew it up. they called the base fire dept. (i was at CFB Borden) and all my clothes smelt like burnt out electric motor for 6 weeks.

tercero (author)2008-12-12

This is brilliant. The kind of thing that a site like instructables was invented for. Lot's of arsehats posting the negative crap don't get the fact that ordinary kids (and parents) can't do laundry and it's good that a site like instructables will tackle the basics. Food, sewing, buying fruit, doing laundry. Tell me that most of life's little chores aren't sometimes hard to conquer the first time you try. Ever go about arranging your own automobile insurance (without getting screwed in the process). Or cooking a slab of salmon to perfection. Or baking a cake from scratch. Or swinging a golf club for the first time. Or soldering without burning the circuit. OR starting a camp fire. Great instructable. Thanks again for posting what most of us take for granted. Ignore the idiots. J.

linuxmom (author)tercero2008-12-12

Wow, you're so kind..........rushes to make a cake from scratch.

goldfishbutt (author)2008-09-02

I would also recommend setting a timer so that you don't forget about your clothes. Otherwise, you'll return 5 hrs later only to find your clothes are starting to mildew and super stinky from sitting damp. This means, if you're in a busy communal facility, you're annoying others (the nice folks will throw your load in the dryers, the mean ones will toss it on the floor), and you'll have to redo your laundry to de-stink your clothes.

Beg to differ: Mean people will throw your laundry on the floor. Dishonest people will steal your laundry. Nice people will pile your laundry on top of a washer so your clothes don't occupy a dryer for an undetermined amount of time. Law of the laundry jungle: 20 minute grace period. After 20 minutes it's OK to move someone's clothes.

skunkbait (author)2008-07-28

Sadly, this ible is needed. I used to work at a college where some grown girls didn't know how to launder their own clothes. When asked about their prior experience, they said "That's what maids are for!"

FreshPineSent (author)skunkbait2008-10-24


linuxmom (author)skunkbait2008-07-28

Ah, and to think I just thought "that's what moms are for"............

skunkbait (author)linuxmom2008-07-28

Never put that sort of thing in print. They'll use it against you! My 14 year old does laundry, butif he thought he could shove it off on Mrs. Skunkbait, he definitely would.

mysterygirl154 (author)2008-10-08

I always wondered about clothes bleeding because my mom sorts the laudry by color no matter what. It seems like it would be alot easier just to throw them all in.

nate121 (author)2008-10-07

if you wash with cold water and turn you colthe inside out they wont bleed!

Julibopper (author)2008-09-15

Might I also add that if you happen to be washing a load of towels only, don't use fabric softener! It makes them softer, but it also makes them less absorbent. A trick from my own mom :)

linuxmom (author)Julibopper2008-09-16

Ah, the things mom knows..........

hyspirit (author)2008-09-05

I think my man should give this a good read. ha ha

Jinsou (author)2008-09-03


goldfishbutt (author)2008-09-02

I would also mention these tips for sorting:

- Don't heat anything that might shrink / melt
This mostly includes anything wool (these can shrink ~5 sizes with heat!), synthetics like rayon, shirts with fancy plastic decals, sneakers, or maybe your favorite pair of already a little tight / small jeans. Wash these on colder settings and hang dry / dry on low heat.

- Don't mix bright colors (especially new ones) with whites on hot
Otherwise all your white socks, sheets, etc will turn pink and you'll be easily spotted as a laundry n00b. Hot water / hot drying can fade colors but will also work better to kill off stinkier smells, so decide well!

- A lot of clothes have labels on them - read em if you're unsure!
Of course, just like expiration dates, you can twist the rules a bit. "Handwash only" may turn into a cold wash while "Dry clean only" may turn into a handwash but don't risk with the clothes you really really love. (+ check the tags to realize the commitment you're making when you buy the clothes in the first place.)

linuxmom (author)goldfishbutt2008-09-03

YOU should have entered the contest!

goldfishbutt (author)2008-09-02

Dress shirts and other clothing can be hung near the shower as you get ready. This will allow the steam from taking a shower to remove / lessen some of those wrinkles (not nearly as good as ironing but works if you hang your clothing.)

About This Instructable




Bio: [ LinuxH4x0r] introduced me to instructables ...thanks son.
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