Introduction: How to Do Laundry

About: I study engineering at Virginia Tech. Long time instructables fan.

Ever since clothing was commonly worn by ancestral humans, washing it has been a chore. Sure, maybe our Neanderthals and Cro-magnon ancestors may not have been concerned with radiant whites, but in more modern times doing the laundry became much more common. Before the industrial revolution, means of washing clothes included beating, slapping, or otherwise agitating dirt out of clothing, usually in the presence of water.

But if you're like me, you probably use a modern washing machine to do your dirty work, and even if you've never operated one before, you'll (hopefully) be an expert by the time you're done reading.

Step 1: Materials

Alright, so you've got some clothes that need washing, so where do you start? Well, you have several options depending on weather or not you own a washing machine and dryer or not. This 'Ible covers a home washer/dryer set, but If i get enough requests I can put out the extra effort and do one for a laundromat.

Now, you'll need several things before you start doing your laundry:

  • Detergent
  • Dirty clothes (of course)
  • Bleach (for doing whites)
  • Fabric softener (optional)

Types and brands of the above are personal preference, so you can buy whatever tickles your fancy.

As of right now, my options for the above are limited to simple detergent, being as I'm on vacation at the moment, and didn't bring bleach or fabric softener along.

Step 2: Getting Started With the Wash

In order to begin the process of laundering your clothing, we must first locate the washing machine. In a standard washer/dryer configuration, the washing machine tends to have a hinged door on the top or side with an upright agitator in the center. On horizontal door models, the entire drum of the washer tends to agitate the clothing rather than a single center agitator.

In the center-agitated model that I have access to at the moment I begin by loading my laundry around the spindle evenly. Before loading, however, I find it beneficial to search through the pockets of the clothing to find anything that may interfere with the washing process eg. coins, tissues, wallets, etc.

If I were separating my whites, an option that you may prefer to choose, I would place an amount of bleach recommended by the manufacturer in the allocated slot in the machine before adding my detergent. A risk you take blending colors the way I am here is bleeding of darker or more heavily dyed clothing onto whites, making them discolored.

The amount of detergent you use depends on the size of the load of laundry you're washing. I followed the recommendations on the bottle that I used and poured it evenly over the clothing in the drum. If you're using powdered detergent, sprinkle it evenly over the clothing. It's worth noting that using too much detergent may cause a negative effect on your wash. Use the manufacturer's recommended amount depending on the amount of laundry being done.

Step 3: Enter Your Settings and Begin the Washing Process

You may have noticed several knobs near the top of your washing machine. These are used to set the preferences for this particular load of wash. This makes it easy to customize your washing experience for different types of clothing.

I'm doing a mixed load, so I have some pretty standard settings going. However, check the tags of your clothes in order to find the ideal settings for washing and drying them. I direct you to to check out their helpful guide to care symbols. It's worth giving the link a look, being as certain settings can shrink clothing made of cotton or other shrinkable material.

After you enter your settings, it's time to start your washing machine. Most machines have a knob to choose your washing mode. I set mine to a high setting and pulled on the knob to initiate the washing sequence.

Now all you have to do is wait. The amount of time the load takes depends on your settings and how efficient your washer is.

Step 4: Time to Dry!

Once your washing cycle is completely finished, your clothes should look something like this. The next step in the laundry cycle is to transfer your clothing to the dryer. Simply pile them in. Optionally, you can add a dryer sheet to soften clothing or any number of other dryer additives that enhance your clothing experience.

Similarly to the washer, the dryer also has settings that require attention before drying can be started. Just like the washing knob, you must select the drying program from the list around the knob. When you select which one you'd like, there's only one more knob to worry about before you can finish the job.

Most dryer models have some form of temperature knob. Simply select which one suits the type of clothing you're drying and press the start button. When drying fleeces or synthetic materials it is best to use a lower temperature setting, as you might melt or warp the material.

Once you've done that, your work is almost done!

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Finally, all the hard work is done! All that's left now is to remove the dried clothes from the dryer and fold them. After folding they simply need to be stored in a dresser or closet.

I hope that if you knew nothing about doing laundry that you've at least got a vague understanding of how to machine process works. Thanks for reading!

As a special note, I'd like to thank Catlinsdad for the helpful contributions he suggested.

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