Laundry Tips For Beginners

Tips and guide to the basics of laundering clothes. Includes directions on sorting, washing, and drying. Also included are tips on maintaining colorfastness and preventing wrinkling.

Clothing is expensive and if not properly maintained, will add even more expense in the long run. The following is a guide to those who are unfamiliar with basic laundry care.

I. Learn How to Use Your Machines

The first step in taking good care of your clothing is to become familiar with your washer and dryer. Almost all brands of washers come with standard manufacturer's directions and suggestions printed right inside the lid. You can also find troubleshooting lists to guide you if something does go wrong with the machine. These are invaluable to even the most seasoned experts.

II. Sorting Laundry

This next step is a real time and effort saver. By sorting your clothing you know how much of each kind of laundry you have. It also helps save time by not having to dig through baskets of soiled laundry, trying to find similar items to wash.

By reading care labels sewn into the clothing, you are assured of what kind of care to give each garment.

Sort laundry into three main groups:

Whites----soiled sweatsocks, underwear, plain white tee-shirts, washcloths

Darks------dark colors that may fade, or lose some of the colorfastness

Delicates""Fine linens, delicate lingerie, synthetic fibers

In other piles, also sort out heavily soiled items; these must be washed separately so that the soil will not transfer onto other less sturdy items.

Towels and other items that may transfer lint should also be washed alone, in their own cycle.

As you sort laundry, it's a good idea to go through pockets and discard anything found inside them. Also check for buttons, snaps, buckles and zippers, making sure they are secured onto the items properly.

III. Pretreat

Most stains that are left untreated will set in, and most times do not come out with laundry soap alone. Using a product like Shout, designed to remove most stubborn laundry stains, will definitely improve your chances of getting rid of stains. Follow the manufacturer's directions, and even stains like grass and blood may fade away.

IV. Presoak

For heavily soiled or stained garments, try presoaking in a small tub or bucket of recommended water temperature and a small amount of determent. Let soak for twenty to thirty minutes and launder as suggested by manufacturer.

V. Water Temperatures

Clothing can be laundered in hot, warm, or cold temperature, once again according to care labels. Hot water cleans the fastest and the best, but cannot be used on all items. Bright colors and delicates can be ruined by washing in hot water, while baby diapers and whites, like undergarments and washcloths, do best in this temperature. Bleach, which is a very good product to add when laundering color-fast whites such as socks and white tee-shirts, works best, also, with hot water loads.

Warm water is helpful in removing wrinkles in clothing while in the washer. It is best used on permanent press items, colorfast darks, and synthetics like polyester, and wools that are washable.

Cold water works best on bright colors, like orange and red, that can easily lose their brightness in warmer temperatures. And as far as the rinse temperature goes, it is cold water, also, that is best. Cold water is best at cutting suds from clothing in the rinse cycle.

VI. Detergents

There are dozens of detergents from which to choose for laundry care today. Most people find one they are happy with and tend to stick to that brand. Some of the most popular brands are Tide, Cheer, Oxydol, and Gain. They all work well at fighting dirt, and come with manufacturer's directions on usage. The same goes for pretreating and fabric softener products, too. There are many brands and most of the time, one is as good as the other. Use all laundry products with care in following manufacturer's directions.

VII. Washing

The best method of washing is to first turn machine on, add detergent, and then add clothing. It's a good idea to not overload the machine because too many pieces of clothing will take away from the cleaning power of the detergent used. The smaller the load, the better the machine is able to agitate and rid clothing of its soil.

Your washing machine may have a separate compartment for adding liquid bleach or fabric softener; if so, just read the directions on the lid of the machine and add the items when stated. If not, when using bleach, it is best to let the load of clothing wash for five full minutes and then add 1 cup of the liquid bleach. The fabric softener may be added by one capful when the machine is on its rinse cycle, if no separate compartment is supplied.

*If you have especially hard water, it may be necessary to add a bit more detergent, bleach (when needed), and fabric softener. Hard water tends to cut the cleaning power of these products.

VIII. Drying

As with the washing of clothes, it is equally important to know the proper settings for drying them, too. Once again care labels are the best place to find such information. Some basic rules of thumb for drying, though: Delicates are best protected in the dryer on the gentle, or permanent press cycle. A cool-down feature is often added to these cycles and allows the articles to cool down before the tumbler completely stops; this is a great feature that allows wrinkles to "Ëścool' from clothing, and often ironing is unnecessary. For sturdier articles like towels, small blankets, and whites, the high setting is preferred for its heat setting. Blue jeans and small jackets, and sweatshirts, also do well on this cycle but once again if the cool-down feature is part of your dryer, it is recommended.

As with the washing of items, it is best not to overload when drying; too many pieces and the machine cannot properly dry at its normal pace.

When drying especially small loads, it's a good idea to throw into the dryer a couple of clean, dry towels. This will help speed up the drying process and help keep the wet articles from wrinkling.

Suggestion: When needing to launder very large items like bedspreads, large rugs, and cumbersome jackets or coats, it is best to take them to the Laundromat. There you'll find washers and dryers much better suited for these large-sized pieces.

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