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How To Do Laundry: 10 Basic Steps for Beginners

The Sauce Boss
Nov 25, 2023
Laundry Tips
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Learning how to do your laundry (the correct way) is an essential step in adulting, right up there with paying your taxes, grocery shopping, and handling car maintenance. If you’re new to the laundry game, you might be tempted to shove everything into your washer, douse it with detergent, and hope for the best—but we know you’re better than that.

In this article, we’ll show you how to do your laundry, step by step:

1. Read the Care Labels On Your Garments
2. Sort Your Laundry by Color
3. Pre-Treat Stains
4. Choose Your Laundry Detergent
5. Add Scent Booster or Fabric Softener (Optional)
6. Select Your Water Temperature and Cycle
7. Load Your Washing Machine
8. Unload Your Washer ASAP
9. Load Your Dryer
10. Hang and Fold Your Clothes

Following proper laundry protocol ensures your clothes will smell amazing, stay clean, and last as long as possible without wearing out. Let’s break down each of these 10 steps in detail.

1. Read the Care Labels On Your Garments


The first—and most important step—for doing laundry is checking the care labels on your clothes, towels, sheets, and linens. The tag will tell you whether or not the item is machine washable, what temperature to use, and what items it can be washed with. 
Here are some of the most common care instructions to look for:
  • Machine wash cold
  • Wash with like colors
  • Do not bleach
  • Dry clean only
  • Hand dry only
  • Hand wash only
  • Tumble dry low

Following the fabric care instructions isn’t always efficient, but it’s crucial to avoid damaging fabrics, fading colors, or wearing down clothes prematurely.

2. Sort Your Laundry


Different types of fabric have different needs. Sorting your laundry ensures it gets washed properly and prevents issues like color bleeding, shrinking, stretching, wrinkling, and pilling.
First, sort your laundry by color, creating separate piles for the following:
  • Whites, light grays, and white background prints
  • Dark-colored clothes (black, red, navy, brown, and dark gray)
  • Heavily soiled towels, bedsheets, and clothes

Next, sort each pile by fabric type:
  • Separate towels and sheets from apparel
  • Separate t-shirts and jeans from delicate items like dress shirts and blouses
  • Separate synthetic, moisture-wicking athletic clothes from regular clothes like cotton

If you don’t have enough items to run a full load for each type of fabric, you can wash all items of each color together.

3. Pretreat Stains


If you have stains on any of your garments, treat them before you run them through a wash cycle. This loosens and lifts the stain so it comes out more easily.

There are all kinds of stain remover sprays and sticks, some of which are designed for specific stains like wine, coffee, or grass. Each product has its own instructions, but generally you’ll dab the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate the stain.

After pretreating, you’re ready to run your normal wash cycle.

4. Choose the Best Laundry Detergent


There are four factors to consider when choosing the right laundry detergent:
  1. Performance
  2. Convenience
  3. Fragrance
  4. Eco-consciousness

In general, laundry detergent pods are a better option than liquid detergent because they’re highly concentrated, meaning they pack more cleaning power into a smaller dose. They also come in pre-measured doses, so you don’t have to worry about measuring liquid in that plastic cup (and creating a mess in the process).

Standard laundry pods were long overdue for an upgrade—that’s why we created Laundry Sauce: the best-smelling laundry detergent pods on the planet, hands down. With luxurious fragrances like Australian Sandalwood, Egyptian Rose, and French Saffron, you’ll wonder how you ever settled for lame scents like “spring breeze” or “fresh linen.”

Besides smelling better, Laundry Sauce is also more eco-conscious than store-bought detergent. Instead of clunky plastic jugs or containers, our laundry pods come in premium boxes produced from 60% post-consumer recycled cardboard paper. Lastly, Laundry Sauce pods are compatible with all types of washing machines, including front-loading, top-loading, and high-efficiency (HE) machines.

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5. Add Fabric Softener or Scent Booster (Optional)


If you want to make your laundry feel softer or have an extra scent boost, there are two add-ins to consider:

Liquid Fabric Softener


Fabric softener makes your clothes feel smoother while also reducing static cling and preventing wrinkles. All you have to do is add a cap full of liquid into your washing machine before running the cycle. Just make sure you put in the dispenser or compartment labeled “fabric softener.”
Pro tip: Avoid using fabric softener on microfiber towels, athletic clothes, or moisture wicking fabrics.

Scent Booster 


If you want an extra pop of fragrance for your clothes, towels, or sheets, add scent booster to your next load of laundry. These tiny beads dissolve in the water and leave a longer-lasting fragrance than detergent alone.
Laundry Sauce Advanced In-Wash Scent Boosters come in five signature fragrances that match our laundry pod fragrances, so you can maximize the fragrances you already love.

6. Select Your Water Temperature and Cycle


Doing laundry in cold water is generally the best option. It saves energy, preserves the integrity of fabrics, and cleans your clothes just as well as hot water. There are a few exceptions, though. Most towels and bed linens should be washed in warm water every other wash to remove body oil and get sanitized. 
When it comes to choosing a cycle, “normal” should do the trick for most loads. However, you may want to select “delicates” or “permanent press” if you’re washing delicate fabrics like silk, lingerie, sweaters, or wool. Reserve the “heavy-duty” cycle for bulky items like towels, jeans, and bedsheets.

7. Load Your Washing Machine


Keep these tips in mind when loading your items into the washing machine:
  • Load items one at a time to avoid tangling
  • Don’t overload your machine—your items need space to get fully washed
  • Turn items inside out if they need extra protection. This includes knitted items, clothes with zippers, and textured fabric like corduroy

8. Unload Your Washer ASAP


Once your wash cycle is complete, unload your machine immediately. The longer you leave damp clothes in the washer, the more you risk mildew and stubborn wrinkles.

9. Load Your Dryer


Choosing the correct cycle and heat setting on your dryer will prevent shrinkage and damage for your fabrics. Here’s a cheat sheet for choosing the right dryer setting:
  • Cotton: Medium or high heat
  • Synthetics (nylon and polyester): Low or medium heat
  • Delicates (silk and lace): Low heat or air dry
  • Wool: Air dry or low heat
  • Towels and bedding: High heat

If you don’t want your clothes to come out of the dryer with static cling and wrinkles, add a few wool dryer balls or a dryer sheet before starting the cycle. Not sure which one to use? Check out this ultimate guide to dryer balls vs. dryer sheets. Once your dry cycle is complete, clean out your lint filter to keep your machine running as efficiently as possible.

Pro tip: Consider air-drying clothes on a drying rack if you want to save energy, preserve the integrity of your fabric, and maximize the fragrance from your laundry detergent.

10. Hang and Fold Your Clothes


Hang or fold each garment as soon as they’re finished drying, otherwise they can get wrinkly. If necessary, iron your clothes. Always aim to return your clothes and linens to their designated closet or drawer as soon as possible.

5 Bonus Laundry Hacks


Now that you’ve mastered the basics, let’s take a look at five clutch laundry hacks to make laundry day faster and easier:

1. Soak sweaty gym clothes in vinegar before washing them to get rid of odors.
2. If you have a grease stain, rub it with chalk and let it sit for 15 minutes before washing.
3. Wash and dry your socks in a mesh bag to avoid losing any of them.
4. If you accidentally shrink something, soak it in cool water and baby shampoo then gently stretch the fabric back to its original size.
5. If you need to remove wrinkles in a hurry, toss the item in the dryer for a few minutes with an ice cube—it creates a DIY steaming effect.
Doing laundry doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Once you get the hang of the process and fall into a routine, it’s actually relaxing, rewarding, and dare we say a little therapeutic. Whether you’re a laundry rookie or a certified pro, we’ll be there to make your clothes smell downright irresistible every time.

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