Tips for Washing Clothes

Did you say “tips for washing clothes?” Doing laundry is like doing the world’s oldest profession, pardon such a crass comparison. We do it about 52 times a year (for some, maybe more) that we go on automatic mode and forget to put on our thinking cap. It’s only when an accident happens that we suddenly remember those tips for washing clothes that a colleague shared with us once upon a time.

You may have experienced some of those “accidents.”

  • A recently bought silk blouse that cost you an arm and a leg which morphed into something the size of a cotton pad
  • A cell phone that was bleached ultra-white because you had forgotten to take it out of your pocket
  • Water-drenched tiny creatures that turned your tub into a morgue because your 3-year old son had put them in his pants pocket for his insect house collection
  • Your hubby’s favorite office shirt that turned into a rough artist’s canvas because someone poured half a bottle of clorox directly into it

These accidents can be expensive. So before any more accidents happen, here are some helpful tips for washing clothes.

Tip # 1: Go through your clothes and create 2 piles: one for colors and another for whites. Then go through each pile and take out those that have to be dry-cleaned only. Put the “dry clean only” clothes into a bag, and put it away so that your child – who surely has good intentions – does not throw them into the washing machine.

Tip # 2: As you put each clothing item into the machine, empty out the pockets. Check for gadgets, pens, paper and even tissue. Have you ever seen wet shreds of tissue splattered all over the machine?

Tip # 3: Watch out for buttons, zippers and hooks. Make sure they’re buttoned, zippered and hooked. If you have a clothing tear, repair that first before washing as the agitation blades can make the tear worse.

Tip # 4: If you have enough regular wash clothes for one load, start with those first. You can work with stained clothes requiring the use of stain removers or bleaching agents separately.

Tip # 5: If your clothes aren’t too dirty, choose the cold water cycle. Cold water does an equally good job as warm or hot water. Today’s detergents also go well with either warm or cold water.

Tip # 6: Follow the instructions on the detergent label. You don’t want to use a capful when you’ve got a medium load, or use too little for a full load. Using the right amount equals less waste.

Tip # 7: For delicate clothes, use the gentle cycle, or better, hand wash them. If hand washing is something you won’t ever do, buy laundry mesh nets (the dollar store has them) for putting your undergarments, stockings, and clothes with delicate trim or lace.

Tip # 8: Do NOT overload the machine. Spread the clothes evenly. Your clothes will be cleaned more thoroughly if the items of clothing are not packed like a tin of sardines. The machine will do a better job agitating them when they are not choking from lack of “breathing” room.

Tip # 9: The warm/cool setting in the washer is ideal for minimizing wrinkling in clothes. If you have a permanent press setting, use this setting.

Tip # 10: If you have black-colored fabrics, a good detergent to consider is Woolite Dark Laundry or Cheer Dark. Other brands are available. Over time, black and other dark colors fade. One solution is to buy black dye and pour it into the machine during the rinse cycle. Follow the instructions on the label.

Tip # 11: When the cycle is complete, take the clothes out of the machine immediately so they can be hung out to dry or placed in the dryer. Have some hangers ready so you’re not scrambling for them when it’s time to hang your wet clothes.

Tip # 12: For sheets and blankets that have traces of urine, sperm or oil, you might want to make an exception and use hot water for these.

Don’t forget: if you have to use bleach, make sure you do a pre-test. Mix your bleach as per the manufacturer’s instructions and with a cotton swab, dab it on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric and see if it changes color. If you’re using a stain remover, do a pre-test as well and see if anything happens to the fabric when you apply the stain remover.

We also have tips for washing clothes in a laundromat:

Tip # 1: Sort your clothes before you leave home. It’s more time-efficient than doing this task in the laundromat. You may not have sufficient space to do your sorting.

Tip # 2: Have the right amount of change for the machine. Laundromats have coin changing machines but you could be going on a day when the coin changers on the blink.

Tip # 3: When you pack your detergent, bleach, or stain remover bottles, make sure you have enough for the loads you’re doing. Nothing’s more irritating than running to the store to replenish your supplies just before doing laundry.

Tip # 4: Don’t be tempted to leave your clothes unattended even if they’re inside the machines. In these times of economic crisis, you never know how many could be interested in your clothes – even if they’re wet or dirty!

Tip # 5: Bring enough hangers for those clothes that won’t be machine-dried.

And the last 2 tips: For blue denims and other dark-colored pants and tops, you can delay fading if you invert them before throwing them into the machine. And if you’re going to the Laundromat, bring a book to read or a crossword puzzle to make up for waiting time. Or bring your laptop so you can check your Facebook page and answer your e-mails.