Clothes Washing Basics

We all need to wash clothes. It's very important to learn how to properly use your washing machine to keep your wardrobe in great shape. If you wash items at the wrong temperature, or in the wrong way, you can easily destroy an entire load of laundry. That would be a great shame! Here are the steps to keep your clothes clean and gorgeous.

It's best to wash laundry once a week. Stains and sweat can actively damage clothing, so you don't want to let the clothes sit in a dirty state for weeks and weeks.

Separate the Laundry
You can't just dump your entire laundry load into the washing machine and press a button. Why? Different types of clothing need different conditions to wash well. Not only that, but no dye is truly "permanent". All dyes will tend to run a little bit. This means if you put your blue jeans in with your gorgeous white shirts, the shirts will probably turn light blue. When you put colored clothes in with each other, they will all seep their colors a little, but usually you don't notice it as much.

So at the most basic, you want to keep all whites together because they should not be near anything colored that could damage the white. Depending on how large your load is, you then want to break the colors out into similar groups. If you have a lot of blue jeans, you would want to wash those all together and separate from anything else. It's not economical to do ALL color groups separately - i.e. all red items, all green items, etc. You do the best you can. Remember, you're paying money for each load you run. Either you're paying money directly to a laundromat machine, or you're paying money at home for electricity and water heating.

When you're separating out clothing, be sure to check tags for any special washing instructions. Some shirts and items might indicate a need for delicate washing.

Choosing the Settings
The tag will usually indicate the hot/cold setting recommended for the clothes item. In general hot water gets things more clean - but also costs more to heat up if you're at home. On the other hand, hot water can make colors run and can cause cotton clothes to shrink. Therefore, most people wash whites on warm because there are no colors to run and because the whites are normally sheets and underwear, things you want to be really clean. They wash all colors at cold because that gets out most of the dirt without damaging any cotton items or causing color runs.

Washing the Clothes
If you have a top loading washer, set the temperature and load size first, and let some water run into the machine. Add in the detergent once you have some water in the bin, and then add in the clothes. Liquid detergent dissolves best. Bleach is a whitening agent and should only be used on white loads to help keep them white.

Side Loading Washers
I highly recommend, if you're buying a washing machine for your home, to go with a side loader. These washers get clothes MUCH cleaner than a top loading variety. Think of it as a shower vs a bath. When you take a bath, you soak in the dirty water, with that dirty water surrounding you and covering you. You don't get very clean. In fact in many cultures, including the Japanese, you're supposed to wash off the dirt and grime BEFORE you get into the bath, and the bath is more about relaxation. A shower on the other hand actively rinses dirt off you and away from you, so that you get truly clean. The side loading washer works in the same manner. The difference in how clean the clothes get is very startling.

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