How to do laundry

Laundry can mount up in a busy household! Read this guide for simple advice on how to make doing the laundry easy to save you time!


Clothes drying on a fold up laundry rack: how to do laundry

Key steps

  1. Always read the care instructions on your items of clothing.
  2. For best results, pre-treat stains with neat detergent before washing.
  3. Use mesh bags to protect delicate clothing such as bras and pantyhose. 
  4. Don’t forget the finishing touches – if necessary, iron clothes to keep them feeling fresher for longer.

Laundry is one of those unavoidable tasks in life, but it can be painless and efficient if you do it properly. Get it wrong, however, and you may end up permanently shrinking a jumper or turning a white shirt pink! Here are our basic steps on how to do washing – great for laundry novices or just for a refresher. Cleanipedia offers many specialised articles on laundry but this article should give you a solid outline for what to do when you’re running low on clean clothes.

1. Check your garment care tags first. This is the number one rule to follow. Garment care tags indicate the correct way to care for your clothing, including water temperature, cycle setting, as well as drying and ironing options. If you don’t follow the care tag instructions, you can easily ruin a garment. Keep an eye out for clothing which need the ‘Delicate’ cycle setting, or require hand washing or dry-cleaning instead of the washing machine. Checking the garment care tags will also help you sort your laundry appropriately.

2. Sort your laundry. One of the biggest risks when machine washing clothes is that colours can bleed together. If you mix non-colourfast red clothing with white garments, your white clothes will come out looking pink. To avoid this, make sure to always wash similar colours together. Similarly, garments should also be sorted according to fabric type and level of soiling, and washed with similar garments that require the same cycle setting and water temperature. You may want to start by sorting your laundry into these categories: Whites, Colours, or Dark Clothing, Delicates, with additional categories like Heavily Soiled or Red/Orange, as needed.

3. Once you’ve sorted your laundry, decide which loads to wash first. This may come down to necessity, like a particularly low supply of clean socks. But also be aware that some loads of laundry may need to be ironed or air-dried (instead of tumble-dried), and therefore will require some more time afterward before they can be ready for use.

4. Pre-treat stains before machine-washing. All stains will be much easier to remove if you pre-treat them. Ideally, stains should be attended to when fresh, but if not, even a quick pre-treatment with Persil will help a great deal before the wash cycle. Tougher stains will need to be pre-soaked. Cleanipedia has an extensive list of articles with advice on treating specific kinds of stains – check them out for more helpful advice. 

5. Prepare your clothes for machine-washing. Empty all pockets in your clothing, removing coins, pebbles, or tissues, and so on – some of these can damage your washing machine or the clothes themselves. Delicate clothing like bras or pantyhose may also need to be zipped up into a mesh bag to protect them during a laundry cycle.

6. Run your laundry cycles at the correct temperature and wash settings. This should follow the garment care tags. Also make sure to dose your detergent correctly, according to the detergent instructions — too little won’t clean your clothes well, and too much detergent may damage your machine (not to mention wasting unnecessary detergent) and make your clothes stiff. Always follow the guidelines on the product and take care to avoid contact with skin.

7. Remove laundry from the machine immediately after the cycle is finished. Otherwise, your clothes may develop that very unpleasantly mouldy smell. Even leaving wet clothes in the drum for an hour can lead to this smell.

8. Dry your clothes according to garment care tags. Many garments can be ruined if you tumble-dry them, so make sure to hang-dry or dry flat as required. If in doubt, it’s better to hang-dry clothes instead of tumble-drying them. This has less potential to damage the clothes and also uses much less energy (and is therefore environmentally friendlier).

9. Iron clothes if necessary. Dresses, dress-shirts, and slacks should be ironed to look presentable. Some dresses may not require ironing if they are hung up immediately after being removed from the washing machine or tumble-dryer. It is important to follow the garment care labels as some items are not suitable for ironing.

Watch our video for more help and guidance:

We’re fortunate that there are a variety of laundry detergents available today, such as Persil’s great range of products! Whether you’re using powdered detergent, liquid detergent, or capsules, or non-bio or bio, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and check the garment label first.

Do you use powder, capsules or liquid to wash your clothes?

10. Fold or hang clothes properly for storage. Again, dresses, dress shirts, and trousers should be hung up to prevent wrinkling. All other clothes can be folded and put back to replenish your wardrobe.

These ten basic steps provide the outline on how to do laundry. For more detail, check out our other Cleanipedia articles about how to use a washing machine or a tumble dryer, or about the laundry symbols on care labels, and you’ll never have to worry again the next time you need to wash your clothes.

Originally published