Sorting It Out

So you think sorting laundry is a no-brainer, right? Ha! Sorting is one of the most important parts of doing laundry. Improper sorting can result in ruined clothes and a damaged washing machine – read on, and you will see why. Sorting is more than just putting your clothes in the appropriate pile.

First, check your clothing care tags – especially newly acquired items! Read the tags for washing and drying instructions. If there are instructions such as “hand wash” or “drip dry” separate these into a “delicates” pile. If instructions state “dry clean only” do not attempt to launder them yourself; take it to a professional dry cleaner. Many tags will include washing temperatures and dryer settings and you will want to separate accordingly. A tip on washing temperatures will follow soon – read on.

Turn your clothes right side out and check all pockets for loose change (finders keepers!), pens, papers, tissues, gum, cell phone (not kidding), screws, nails, or other tools (it’s happened!). I had a blue ball point pen break in the laundry and it wasn’t pretty. Remove belts from pants and unroll socks. Then, if any of the care tags instructed you to wash the item inside out, make sure you remember to do so, after checking for stains. Removing stains on clothes will need to be done before washing and drying – so put aside anything that needs to be pretreated, or do it immediately, before you forget.

Many people sort their laundry according to color, while others (like me) take fabric type into consideration. It really is a matter of the amount of laundry you have to deal with and the types of clothes you usually wash. Here is a basic guideline for sorting:

Whites – Whites are separated because we want them to stay as white as possible. Make sure a red or black sock doesn’t get mixed in, unless you want pink or grey tinted whites.

Brights - This would be colorfast pinks, oranges, yellows, light blues, greens, which can be mixed together for a full load. Notice I didn’t mention red or blue……

Reds, Dark Blues and Blacks – I don’t care how long you have owned it; the color could bleed onto other fabrics. When sorting laundry, I error on the side of caution by washing reds separately. Dark blues and blacks can be washed together, but if I have enough of each, I separate them.

Towels should be washed separate from clothing because of the amount of lint they produce – unless you want to wear it. If you don’t have enough towels for a complete load, they can be washed with sheets or blankets, as long as they are all colorfast.

Delicates – Items that have special instructions such as hand wash, wash separately, line dry, etc.

Note: Some of the newer washers have a hand washables setting that saves you actually having to wash certain items the old fashioned way. It is a good idea to use a mesh lingerie bag for bras and other fragile items, so that they don’t become tangled in the holes of the washer’s drum.

Following these simple sorting guidelines will help you avoid some of the most common laundry hazards and potential catastrophes.