If you are not good at laundry, you probably end up with messed up colours after each load. If you feel like it is time to put an end to this vicious cycle of ruining your clothes. The key to do that is to know how to properly separate the clothes before tossing them in the washing machine. If you manage to separate your clothes, you will be able to minimise abrasion and colour transfer. Not only will their colours stay intact, but you will prolong the life of your clothes.
Before sorting all your garments, it is best to read the fabric care labels and follow any specific instructions that are mentioned there. For example, if the label says dry cleaning or hand washing only, do not put this garment in the laundry machine even if you are using low temperature and a gentle cycle. Even though most minor mistakes can be fixed (you can unshrink your clothes, for example), it is best to avoid them in the first place.
Separating clothes by colour
This is the most basic way for separating clothes before cleaning them. Once you have read the fabric care labels you will know how to wash the different types of fabrics. However, colour transfer is still the most common occurrence when it comes to laundry. Start by setting aside all garments that need special cleaning techniques and get on with the machine-washing pile.
You may be used to separate clothes into two piles – lights and darks. However, we have a better system that will help you minimise any potential damage. Make four separate piles: white, dark, cool toned (blues, greens, etc.), and warm toned (red, yellow, orange, etc.). These groupings are based on the weight of abrasive dyes in the wash. You don’t want your cool-colored clothes, which are heavier because they contain more dye, to bleed over your lighter, warm-colored ones.
Some people are used to grouping their laundry by the type of garments that are about to be cleaned. However, this is usually not necessary. Unless some of the clothes are extremely dirty and need special cleaning procedures, simply separate them using the colour system we mentioned above. If there are any delicate items, throw them in a mesh bag and wash them along with their colour matches.
Separating clothes by fabric types
The only times you should separate your clothes according to their fabric type, as well as the colour is whenever you are washing activewear. This type of clothing is usually made of spandex, polypropylene, and other high-tech fabrics that are made to absorb sweat, yet dry fairly quickly. These hold on to bacteria and other grime and require an enzyme-based laundry detergent. They should be washed separately so if you are a sporty person, feel free to make a fifth pile. Make sure you still check the fabric labels to see the type of materials used in this garment. This will help you wash them in the best way possible.
How to wash separate laundry
It is best to wait until you have enough items for a full load, or at least enough garments for a small load. This will prevent the clothes from tumbling too much and reduce water and electricity waste. The key to properly washing your clothes is choosing the correct cycle. Unless you have a special pile for a particular fabric (in this case use the specific cycle of your washing machine), you should use standard temperature. Hot wash and cold rinse is the ultimate combination that will help you properly wash your clothes and reduce the damage.
- If you have a striped piece of clothing, do not think about the colours too much. If there are red and blue stripes for example, give it a quick glance and follow your instinct.
- If your clothes just need refreshing and are not heavily soiled, use the express cycle. This will be enough to remove most bacteria and body soil, make them tight and fresh, and kill bacteria. This will save you time and money from electricity and water bills.
- Keep in mind that even if you do not separate your clothing into lights and darks, new technology and colourfast dyes nowadays will save your clothing and prevent them from spilling colour into each other.
- For your separate activewear pile, use a full cycle and high temperature. Wash those clothes with an enzyme-based powdered laundry detergent. That way you will ensure that all body soil, bacteria and sweat are thoroughly eliminated from the fabric. Do not throw them in the dryer since those are designed to dry quickly and you can save time and electricity.
- Avoid washing small loads. Unless you are in a hurry, make sure you collect enough garments for a full load. By reducing the excess tumbling, you will protect the fabrics and wash them more efficiently.