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How to Separate Your Laundry Effectively

Ever wonder why your favorite white shirt turned pink? Or why your soft towels aren’t as absorbent anymore? You likely need to sort your laundry correctly. But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.

In this article, you’ll unlock the power of separating laundry. You’ll discover how this simple yet crucial step can significantly extend the life of your garments, keeping them in their best condition for longer. We’ll guide you through the process, empowering you to avoid common laundry mishaps and take control of your laundry routine.

The Basics of Laundry Separation

Why Separate Your Laundry?

A wash routine without proper laundry separation can lead to unfavorable outcomes. When different fabrics and colors mix during washing, some garments bleed their colors, while others grab onto excess lint. This cross-contamination can be avoided with a proper separation process, ensuring your clothes stay in their best condition.

Not only does proper laundry separation keep clothes looking their best, but it also preserves their quality. This is especially important for pieces with specific care requirements, such as virus-free clothing. These garments, often used in healthcare settings, require special care to maintain their protective properties. Plus, laundry separation allows for customization. You can adjust the machine settings differently for separate groups of garments, ensuring each item gets the care it needs.

For instance, heavy fabrics like denim may need a robust wash cycle instead of lightweight materials like linen. If you want vibrant colors, lint-free laundry, and preserved elasticity, separation is the key.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Understanding how to divide laundry is a simple yet crucial step. Rather than organizing only by color — whites, lights, darks, and brights— factor in other elements like fabric type and washing requirements. So, despite similar dark colors, jeans and sweatshirts don’t belong in the same pile. The former requires a sturdy washing, while the latter needs a gentle cycle. With these simple guidelines, you can confidently sort your laundry effectively.

Another blunder is disregarding care labels, according to The George Washington University’s care guide for students. These tags include crucial information about wash, bleach, dry, and iron attributes. To avoid this mistake, always check the care label before washing. Look for symbols or text that indicate the appropriate washing temperature, whether the garment can be bleached, and if it needs to be air-dried or can be tumble-dried. Overlooking these instructions could lead to unnecessary wear and tear.

Lastly, many people need to check their pockets before washing. This oversight might lead to stains or residue on clothes. From now on, ensure a quick check for coins, tissues, or pens.

Remember, establishing a systematic laundry sorting routine is worth the effort. It adds longevity to garments, protects against color transfer, and conserves energy by washing clothes efficiently.

Sorting Laundry by Color

Diving deeper into separating laundry, let’s now understand how color plays a vital role. Every garment you possess carries its unique color profile, an aspect that fundamentally impacts your laundry sorting routine.

Dark vs. Light Clothing

Darker clothing, like your navy blues, deep purples, and blacks, often tend to bleed color in the wash, especially during their first few cycles. Group these together in a batch for washing. Similarly, whites and lighter colors, such as pastels and creams, quickly pick up colors from other pieces, hence requiring separate laundry batches. A separate wash for dark and light clothing can reduce the chance of color mixing, keeping your garments’ colors as fresh as day one.

For example, let’s say you’ve purchased a dark red sweater and a pale cream blouse. Washing them together might cause the cream blouse to pick up traces of red, causing an undesirable pink tint.

Handling Multicolored or Patterned Fabrics

While dividing laundry into dark and light categories, you might encounter multicolored or patterned fabrics, which can seem a little confusing. Generally, you’d quarrel over which batch to put them into. In these cases, consider the dominant color in the fabric and wash it with the corresponding batch.

Take, for instance, a striped shirt with broad navy blue stripes and smaller white ones. The dominant color here is navy blue, meaning washing it with the darker batch is safer. However, if it’s a new item, an initial wash alone could be beneficial to remove any excess dye and prevent cross-color contamination.

Remember, if in doubt, you could always opt for a cold wash. Cold washes cause less color bleeding than warm or hot water washes. They may require more time but offer safety to brightly colored or multicolored garments.

Sorting by Fabric Type and Weight

Distinguishing between fabric types plays a pivotal role in your laundry routine. This not only safeguards the integrity of your clothing but also ensures optimal cleaning results.

Delicate Fabrics vs. Heavy Materials

Differentiating between delicate fabrics like silk or lace and heavier materials, like denim, becomes crucial in the sorting process. Delicate fabrics, such as gloves, require a gentle wash cycle and may get damaged if washed with heavy materials, which typically need more vigorous cleaning. As it stands, sorting by fabric goes beyond just separating delicates from heavyweight items. For instance, silk should be handwashed or washed on a delicate cycle, while denim can withstand a regular or heavy-duty cycle. Also, keep in mind that thicker fabrics absorb more water and, therefore, take longer to dry compared to their lighter counterparts.

When to Hand Wash

Despite the convenience of washing machines, some items exclusively require handwashing. Typically, anything made from wool, silk, or containing embellishments, such as beads, fits into this category. Handle these with care and be gentle during the washing process, lest damage results from more aggressive machine washing.

Laundry Products and Their Uses

Continuing from our previous discussion on the ideal systems for sorting laundry, it’s crucial to understand the various laundry products, particularly detergents and fabric softeners, that play pivotal roles in maintaining the quality and longevity of your garments.

Choosing the Right Detergent

With countless available options, picking the suitable laundry detergent may seem daunting. Laundry detergents come in various forms, including liquid, powder, and single-dose pods. Its effectiveness hinges on the nature and number of garments being washed.

Liquid detergents exhibit exceptional stain removal properties and work well on greasy, oily stains. Powders pack a potent cleaning punch and are a preferred choice for outdoor stains such as mud or grass. Single-dose pods provide the convenience of pre-measured detergent that eliminates the guesswork, making them ideal for lazier days or when you’re in a hurry.

The Role of Fabric Softeners

While detergents are responsible for eradicating stains and dirt from your garments, fabric softeners complement them by enhancing your clothes’ softness, scent, and decreased static-cling. They primarily coat your clothes’ fibers with a thin layer of chemicals that make them feel smoother, improve their fragrance, and thwart static build-up.

Fabric softeners come in distinct forms: liquid softeners, dryer sheets, and dryer balls. Mixed during the rinse cycle, liquid softeners impart a fresh fragrance to your clothes and prevent static. Dryer sheets, used during the drying cycle, bestow your clothes with perfume, deter static, and can even repel pet hair. Dryer balls, a natural and reusable alternative to the above options, lessen wrinkling, speed up drying time, and can be scented with essential oils for added fragrance.

Integrating and using these types of laundry products appropriately can help your clothes look, smell, and feel their best.

Special Considerations

Every laundry guide emphasizes color sorting, fabric type identification, and weight consideration. Yet, specific scenarios necessitate special attention. This segment explicitly discusses those situations, focusing on washing new clothes and dealing with stains before washing.

Washing New Clothes

The first wash of new clothes promotes color retention and removes excess dye that could taint other garments. Before plunging them into your laundry routine, a particular set of steps helps protect these new additions.

  1. Inspect: Begin by reading the care label that provides the necessary instructions.
  2. Pre-soak: Soak your new clothes in cold water and salt. One cup of salt, for instance, can help set the dye into the fabric.
  3. Wash separately: For the first wash, run them through a cold and gentle cycle. These excellent conditions help retain the garment’s original color.
  4. Air dry: Skip the dryer for the first few washes and opt for air drying, which will keep the garment’s shape intact.

While these preventive measures convey general guidance, exceptions always exist. Dark items like jeans and bright-colored garments can be turned inside out before washing to prevent fading.

Dealing with Stains Before Washing

A drop of salsa on your white shirt or a coffee spill on your khakis need not result in panic. Planning to handle such stains before throwing them in the washer can bring your clothes back to their original appearance.

  1. Identify the stain: Knowing the source aids in choosing the proper remedy. Ink, for instance, requires a different treatment compared to grease.
  2. Treat promptly: Act quickly because fresh stains are more accessible to remove.
  3. Pre-treat: Apply a stain remover and let it sit for a few minutes before washing.
  4. Check before drying: Ensure the stain is gone before placing the garment in the dryer, as heat may permanently set it.

Simultaneously, it’s crucial to remember that delicate fabrics may need professional help. Also, stubborn stains sometimes call for multiple treatments until they fade entirely. These so-called ‘special considerations’ give your laundry the extra care it warrants, preserving your wardrobe’s integrity in the long run.


So, you’ve got the tools and techniques to separate your laundry like a pro. Remember, it’s all about sorting by fabric type, color, and care requirements. Remember those special considerations for new clothes and stained items. Washing new clothes correctly helps with color retention. And, when it comes to stains, act fast for the best results. Occasionally, you need a professional’s touch for those delicate fabrics or stubborn stains. But with these tips in your back pocket, you’re well on preserving your wardrobe’s integrity. Your clothes will thank you for it!

For those who prefer professional laundry care, Clotheslyne provides an ideal solution. Through the app, you can hire Clotheslyners for expert laundry services, including washing, drying, and folding of clothes and bulky items.

Choosing Clotheslyne ensures your laundry is handled with care and expertise. It’s convenient for those who value their time and prefer professional laundry services.

To use Clotheslyne, download the iOS Apple App or Google Play Store Android app to schedule your laundry pick up.

You can also schedule your laundry pick up through our web portal.

Fill up a tall kitchen bag full of clothes. A Clotheslyner in your community will pick it up and deliver it back to you washed, dried, and folded in 48 hours. It’s that simple.

Got a question for us? Head over to our contact us page and make a custom request by email or by phone! We’re here to help.

FREE pickup and delivery laundry services for less than drop-off at your local laundromat!