So you’re looking at a full hamper of dirty clothing in the hallway or bath and perhaps another in one or more of the kids’ bedrooms. What do you do now with all of this dirty laundry?
Understand first that a pile of dirty laundry is one of the two exceptions to that physics law which states that matter is neither created nor destroyed. As you start to work through the pile, you’ll think that each item removed is replaced by another mysteriously appearing under the pile. But you have to start somewhere.
Sorting It Out
Work through by creating a separate for each category of clothing.
- Denim and other heavy material pants, including cargo and khaki pants and shorts. Because the denim (jeans) will be probably be dark colored, this pile should be washed in cold water to keep the color from bleeding. And you want to keep the heavier material separate from other clothing so that it doesn’t wear or damage the lighter fabrics.
- Lighter fabric darks, including dark delicates, in cold water wash.
- Bright colors – reds, blues, yellows – in cold water wash.
- Towels, washclothes and linens.
- Whites and grays, including boys/men underwear and socks, to be washed in warm water.
- Womens’ delicates.
Which Pile Gets Done First?
Several factors can help you determine where to start. First, any laundry that’s dried on a clothesline or rack should go early in order to give it time to fully dry. As the day progresses into evening, the laundry on the line will dry more slowly and even absorb dew to become damp. Second, consider what’s coming up on the calendar. If a kid has an event or activity requiring clean clothing, be sure to get that done earlier than later. If none of these come into play, then just find a pile and start.
Details, Details, Details
Here are some things to remember when you handle the laundry; just tossing items in the washer invites a mess.
- Check the pockets on all pants and shirts. Pens will leak and stain multiple items if they break, money will be ruined or keys will rip holes in pockets.
- You can’t use bleach on any items that have color of any kind. Bleach is solely for whites.
- You have to check the exterior of all items for stains. Use stain products and scrub the heavier stains with a toothbrush before putting it in.
- Likewise, check the stained clothing when you remove it. If the stain remains, don’t put it in the dryer since the dryer heat will set the stain permanently. If you think that there’s still a chance to remove the stain, do the item the next opportunity you have but don’t dry it in the dryer until then.
- Check the labels on questionable items, especially womens’ tops and blouses. Especially be sure to do so when you remove them from the washer. Putting a Tumble Dry, Low Heat item in a regular setting dryer will shrink it until it’s unwearable. And hell hath no fury like a woman who’s dress blouse is unwearable.
- Make sure that dry clean only isn’t in the piles.
- Womens’ hosiery and bras are dried on a rack, not in a dryer.
- And remember that baby clothing is done separately, especially if you’re using a baby detergent like Dreft.
And despite all of the attention to detail, you’ll still find items are ruined. But it will get better.