It can be tempting to put all your laundry in the wash together, just to get it over with, but this often does not lead to the best results. In fact, you may permanently damage your garments if you don’t learn how to sort laundry properly! Thankfully, you only need to follow a few basic rules to know how to sort clothes for laundry.
How to Sort Laundry by Colour
One of the most important rules is to wash similar colours together. A non-colourfast red shirt can turn your favourite white dress pink and ruin it forever. Laundry sorting should follow the basic colour categories of white, dark, and coloured categories. The first category should include whites, light beige or yellow, light greys, and white background prints. Dark-coloured clothes include black, dark or medium blue, green, brown, dark grey.
Coloured clothes can be divided into further sub-categories. Many people like to have a category for red, orange, and darker pink garments – it just depends on what colours your family has! Light colours can go into the white load if they are colourfast.
Test this out first with our colour fastness test to be sure if you can wash a garment with the white load. In general, whites are safe to wash at a higher temperature, and dark and coloured clothes should be washed at a warm or cold temperature. But you should check your garment tags first to make sure – here’s our guide to care symbols to help you determine what temperature to use.
How to Sort Laundry by Fabric Type
Once you’ve sorted by colour, you should also sort your clothes further by fabric type. Fabrics like wool or denim can damage more delicate fabrics like silk, so these should not be washed together. Your garment care tags will indicate which clothes need to be washed in a delicate cycle, with cold water, and gentle spinning. These generally include lingerie, wool, silk, acetate, rayon, or embroidered fabrics like kurtas or sarees.
On the other hand, cottons, bed linens, and towels are tougher and wash better at high temperatures. In general, sorting clothes for laundry should ensure that only clothes of similar fabrics and colours are washed together.
How to Sort Laundry by Level of Soiling
Finally, you want to consider how soiled your wash loads are. For hygienic reasons, extremely filthy clothes that have been muddied outdoors or used in sports should not be washed with underwear. You also don’t want any of this dirt to accidentally affect your tablecloths or linens during a wash cycle. Therefore, make sure to wash extremely soiled clothes separately from the others. You will want to pre-treat and soak these ahead of time.
Many fully automatic washing machines have a ‘Heavily Soiled’ or ‘Intense’ wash that you can use on these items; these Bosch washing machines have an ‘Intensive’ setting, while this IFB model has a ‘Cotton - Heavily Soiled’ setting. You won’t want to subject your less soiled items to this treatment (plus you will save on energy, time and water if you use a ‘Normal,’ ‘Lightly Soiled,’ or ‘Quick Wash’ setting for these less-soiled items).
Sorting Laundry Can Be Fun!
Sorting clothes for laundry can easily become second nature – and to lighten your load, you can also teach your family how to sort out laundry. Use multiple laundry baskets: one for whites, one for darks, and one for coloured items. Make sure your family deposits their clothes into the right basket, and the first step to sorting laundry can be done for you! You can also have a separate basket for heavily soiled or stained clothing that requires pre-treatment.
Think of rewards for your kids if they sort out their laundry correctly. They’ll understand how by sorting laundry, they can help contribute to the household!