Learn the Laundry Basics

Whether you're a laundry novice or just want to refresh yourself on the basics, we'll show you how to sort and prepare, treat or mend, wash, dry, fold and put away clothes.
From: DK Books - Houseworks
Sort and Prepare Clothes

Sort and Prepare Clothes

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sort and Prepare

Skip the sort step before starting the wash and you know what'll happen: red sweater plus white undies equals pink panties (or worse, pink jockey shorts).

To sort laundry, start with color. Separate clothing into white, light-colored, bright and dark divisions to avoid dye transfer problems. Wash white and light clothing separately to keep dye transfer at bay.

Separating synthetics (polyester, nylon, acrylic) from natural fibers (cotton, linen) can also cure dye transfer problems; synthetic fibers can be dye magnets, absorbing the castoffs from dye-rich natural fibers.

Troubled by lint in the wash? Keep lint-generators (sweatshirts, towels, flannel fabrics) away from lint attractors (nylon blouses, microfibers) in the laundry process.

For cleaner clothes, sort clothing by soil level. Jeans worn while planting out seedlings in the garden aren't good wash-mates for lightly soiled blouses. Fabric weight, too, should be considered; the heavy stitching, brads and buttons on jeans are too rough-and-tumble to share a wash cycle with lighter-weight or delicate clothing.

Treat or Mend

Treat or Mend Clothes Before Washing

Treat or Mend Clothes Before Washing

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

As you load the washer, check each item of clothing. Close zippers, remove belts and ties, and check pockets for forgotten items that don't belong in the wash.

Eyeball each garment, searching for stains and treat them before you wash. Check if items need a quick mend. Keep the mending center in or near the laundry area so that it's easy to make repairs.

Wash

Washing Clothes

Washing Clothes

You're ready to wash but how well do you know your washing machine? Your washer's product manual has a wealth of information about how to get clothes clean effectively. Washing recommendations vary from machine to machine. For instance, filling a front-loading spin-cycle washer more fully gets clothes cleaner, but overloading a top-loader that uses an agitator will impede the cleaning process and could damage clothing.

Clothing loaded, add detergent. Detergent use is among those "know-your-machine" issues where it pays to be informed. Washing machines vary in capacity and are designed to use differing amounts of detergent. Consult the washer's product manual first, then read the detergent box to determine how much detergent to add and do measure carefully, using a measuring cup. You may need to use more detergent for large loads, very dirty clothing, or if you live in an area with hard water. Use a bit less detergent for soft water, small loads or lightly soiled clothing.

Add any fabric additives or softener. Follow manufacturer's recommendations to use bleach, nonchlorine bleach or fabric brighteners; these toxic products must be used with care and according to label directions. Fabric softener should be added during the final rinse cycle.

Select the appropriate water temperature for the clothes in the washer.

Dry

Hang Delicate Clothing from Line to Air Dry

Hang Delicate Clothing from Line to Air Dry

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

When the washer cycle has finished, time to dry. Place clothing in an automatic dryer, and select the appropriate heat level and cycle duration. Give any twisted garments a good shake as you load them; you'll give them a head start to dry smooth and wrinkle-free. Hang delicate clothing from hangers, a dryer rack or from a clothesline to air-dry.

Fold and Put Away

Fold Clothes and Put Away

Fold Clothes and Put Away

Photo by: DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - House Works , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Make sure that you fold or hang clothing quickly after removing it from the dryer; the last bit of heat in the garment will help to smooth out wrinkles (and prevent the need to iron). Watch out for metal buttons or zippers. They can be very hot after a tumble in the dryer.

Using color-coded baskets, place each family member's clothing in a separate basket as you fold. You'll make it easy for everyone to put away their own clothing if they only have to grab a basket and go.

Next Up

Portable Laundry Room Storage Unit

Turn regular plastic storage bins into laundry room storage units and portable clothes baskets. When clothes are clean, folded and in their proper bin, simply slide out the container and unload fresh laundry in its designated room.

Remove Tough Stains

Proper stain treatment will keep clothing looking new longer. Just follow these easy stain removal tips to get out everything from oils to mustard.

6 Tips for Cleaner Clothes

Learn how to turn common household items into washday wonders with these six simple tips.

How to Treat Clothing Stains

Learn which products and methods work best to get out certain types of clothing stains.

Laundry Room Layouts

Planning is key to creating an efficient and inviting space for doing laundry.

Laundry Room Ideas

Design a laundry room that meets your family's needs.

Laundry Room From HGTV Dream Home 2010

Two laundry spaces – adjacent to the guest bedroom and the sunrise room – accommodate the needs of large families with Energy Star-rated appliances and storage space.

Move Laundry Rooms Upstairs

Putting laundry facilities in a spare bedroom will make room for the amenities.

Laundry Lessons and Tips

This easy system will get you out of the laundry room and back to your life.

Laundry Room Makeover Ideas

If your laundry space needs an upgrade, you have many options available.
More from:

Laundry Rooms

On TV

Flea Market Flip

7:30am | 6:30c

Flea Market Flip

8:30am | 7:30c

Flea Market Flip

9:30am | 8:30c

Flea Market Flip

10:30am | 9:30c

Rehab Addict

11am | 10c

Rehab Addict

11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

Fixer Upper

2pm | 1c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
Tonight
Tonight

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

8pm | 7c

Mexico Life

9pm | 8c

Mexico Life

9:30pm | 8:30c

Island Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Mexico Life

12am | 11c

Mexico Life

12:30am | 11:30c

Island Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

Stories We're Following

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.