Sort. Wash. Dry. Fold. Repeat.
You know the laundry cycle. And you know that nothing is more frustrating than waiting an hour for your clothes to wash, only to discover your pants are still sudsy. Or maybe your white shirts are now a beautiful shade of pastel pink because your unsuspecting college freshman tossed his favourite red t-shirt in with your work clothes.
Anyone practiced in the art of laundry will agree that laundry isn’t just a black and white issue. There are many factors that play into how clean your clothes get during the wash cycle.
Luckily, we’re here to pass on our valuable cleaning tips so you can tackle laundry day without any wardrobe-depleting accidents.
This is the most important step if you want to keep your whites looking their whitest. Brights go with brights. Denim goes with denim. Towels go with towels. The trick is to separate by both colour and fabric so colours don’t run and smooth fabrics don’t pill (you know – those annoying, little balls of fabric that appear on your clothes over time). Here’s a quick breakdown of how you can sort your laundry.
- Whites (all-white items)
- Lights (including striped whites)
- Brights (reds, yellows, oranges)
- Darks (black, browns, blues)
- Sweaters and flannels
Pre-Treat Stains and Spills
Inspect each item closely, and tackle stains and spills before washing so they don’t permanently set. No one needs to know you had ketchup on your eggs this morning, but they will if you don’t get that red stain out of your shirt.
Spray clothes with stain remover and let them sit for a few minutes before adding your clothes to the next load. If you’re the type of person who can’t keep a white shirt clean, you can create a thick paste using baking soda and apply it to stubborn stains.
“But full loads save on water and energy,” you say. Yes, that’s true, and we should be kind to our planet.
But overstuffing your washer won’t get clothes clean and you risk costly service calls – a full load (especially with denim or towels) soaked with soap and water is much heavier than a smaller load and can strain or even break the machine.
Ideally, you should fill your washer about three quarters of the way up the drum to give your clothes enough space to move around during the wash cycle (moving creates friction, which gets the dirt out of your clothes – think scrubbing clothes on a washboard).
Using the right temperature water gets your clothes clean while minimizing fading and shrinkage.
- Cleans really soiled clothes
- Disinfects dish towels, wash clothes, bath towels, bedding and pillowcases
- Gets really grimy clothes clean
- Minimizes colour fading and wrinkling
- Good for light colours that won’t run
- Use for regular and sturdy fabrics (towels, jeans and cottons)
- Good for lightly soiled clothes
- Protects most dark or brightly coloured clothing from running
- Use for blood, wine and coffee spills
Plus, always rinse on cold – it saves energy and helps minimize wrinkling (which means less time ironing).
Don’t Overdose on Laundry Detergent
Too much soap can leave detergent residue on your clothes, which leaves them feeling grimy and irritating to sensitive skin. The trick is to add the amount of detergent recommended by the washer manufacturer, not the detergent manufacturer. The detergent manufacturer doesn’t know what type of washing machine you have and it doesn’t hurt them if you use as much as of their product as possible.
Whiten Those Whites
No one likes that dingy colour white clothes tend to get if you don’t properly care for them. There are a variety of ways you can make sure your whites stay white.
- Bleach: For bleach-safe clothes, add the recommended amount of bleach to the water in the washer. For front-load machines, use the automatic bleach dispenser.
- Bluing Liquid: This brightens whites by adding the slightest hint of blue to offset that yellowish hue. Mix it with cold water according to the directions on the bottle.
- Borax: Sodium borate is a natural mineral that helps break down stains that cause fabrics to yellow. Add a half cup to your washing machine at the beginning of the wash cycle.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon is a great natural whitening agent. Add a half cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle along with your detergent – just be careful to only use it with pure white items since it can leave bleach marks on striped and coloured fabrics.
- White Vinegar: Pour one cup of distilled vinegar into the washer with your regular detergent to perk up clothes that are looking a little drab.
- Baking Soda: Get really white whites with an ingredient you likely have in your kitchen cupboard right now. Add a half cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent.
- Sunshine: Dry your white laundry items in the direct sunlight and let the sun’s UV rays do all the work.
Clean Your Washer
One of the most overlooked steps is to clean your washer. Soap scum builds up in hoses, pipes and throughout the inside of your washer. Run an empty load with one cup of white vinegar approximately once a month to keep your washer clean.
Now that you know our expert tips for getting the cleanest clothes, you can conquer laundry day and laugh in the face of tough stains. It’s a laundry miracle!