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Better smelling, cleaner laundry or your money back.

How to Separate Laundry: 6 Easy Steps

The Sauce Boss
Mar 26, 2024
Laundry Tips

To properly sort your laundry, start by separating white clothes from dark-colored clothing. Next, sort those clothes by fabric type: delicates, towels, sheets, and regular items made from cotton or other sturdy materials.

We recently stumbled across a viral tweet suggesting that sorting your laundry before washing it is old school—”I don’t know anyone under 40 who separates laundry into lights and darks,” he wrote.

So, do you really need to sort your laundry? And if so, is there a “right” way to do it? The Laundry Sauce verdicts are a resounding yes and yes.

For starters, washing white clothes separately prevents colors from bleeding onto them. Sorting your laundry also prevents damage to your fabrics. For example, warm water and dryer sheets are fine to use for towels, but they can ruin sweat-wicking workout clothes.

In this article, we’ll teach you the best way to sort your laundry with step-by-step to keep your fabrics fresh as long as possible.

1. Check Your Garment Care Labels

Before you make any assumptions about sorting your laundry, check the care labels on your garments. Here you’ll find the fabric type as well as what temperature, wash cycle, and dryer setting to use. This info will help you determine how to sort the clothes later on.

Pro tip: If the care instructions say “dry clean only,” don’t ignore it.

2. Separate White and Dark-Colored Clothes

The next step of sorting laundry is separating white clothes from dark-colored clothes to prevent dye transfer. Colors can easily bleed onto white clothes during the wash cycle, even if you wash them in cold water. Not to mention, dark-colored lint can cling to your white items, creating extra work for you on laundry day.

Ideally, the following colors should be washed separately:

  • White items
  • Dark colors: black, navy, blue, red, brown
  • Light colors: gray, tan, pink, lavender, etc.

3. Sort by Fabric Type

Different types of fabrics require different wash cycles, depending on the water temperature and agitation level they can handle. Here’s how to separate your laundry into piles based on fabric type.

  • Regular Items: Everyday clothing made from cotton, linen, micromodal, and other durable materials
  • Delicates: Items made from silk, satin, lace, chiffon, and wool
  • Athletic Clothes: Moisture-wicking fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and spandex (this includes swimwear)

As a rule of thumb, sort your items based on the fabric with the highest percentage. For example, if the label on your shirt says 70% cotton, wash it with your other cotton items. However, if the garment contains any percentage of silk, follow the washing instructions for silk.

The same rule applies to clothes containing wool and cashmere—these delicate fabrics need to be washed separately.

4. Separate Your Towels

There are two main reasons to wash towels separately from the rest of your laundry:

  • Towels are designed to be highly absorbent, which means they tend to trap dirt, body oils, and detergent residues more than regular clothing. Washing towels separately ensures they receive a thorough cleaning without transferring these residues onto your other clothes.
  • Towels tend to produce a lot of lint, especially during the washing process. If you put them in the washer with other clothes, this lint can transfer onto other garments, leaving them covered in fuzz.

5. Separate Your Sheets

Bedsheets should also be separated from the rest of your laundry—here’s why:

  • Bedsheets, especially fitted sheets and larger flat sheets for beds, can take up a lot of space in your washing machine. Washing them separately allows them to move freely in the wash, ensuring they’re thoroughly cleaned and rinsed without being crowded by other items.
  • Bedsheets accumulate dirt, body oils, sweat, and other bodily fluids over time. Washing them separately ensures that stuff gets thoroughly removed without transferring onto your clothing items, promoting better hygiene and cleanliness.

6. After Washing, Sort By Dryer Setting

Sorting before washing your clothes is essential—but it’s equally important to sort your items before tossing them in the dryer. Some fabrics can handle the heat, and some should never see the inside of a dryer. Here’s a cheat sheet you can follow:

  • Cotton and linen: These can handle high heat and typically require a longer drying time (just beware of shrinkage)
  • Synthetics: Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon should be dried or low heat or air only to prevent damage
  • Delicates: Wool, silk, and satin almost always need to be air-dried
  • White items: Dry your white clothes and sheets separately to avoid color transfer

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Common Questions About Sorting Laundry

Now that you know the basics of sorting your laundry, let’s cover some common questions people run into on laundry day.

Should I Separate Clothes by Color or Fabric Type?

Start by separating clothes by color into whites, lights, and darks. Then, within each color group, consider sorting by fabric type to ensure similar care needs.

Can I Wash Towels With My Regular Laundry?

It's generally better to wash towels separately from regular laundry to prevent lint transfer and maintain absorbency. This helps ensure both your towels and clothing come out clean and lint-free.

Can I Wash Delicate Items With My Regular Laundry?

Delicate items need to be washed separately, hand-washed, or at least placed in a mesh bag to protect them from damage during the wash cycle. This helps preserve their quality and prevents snagging or stretching.

Do I Need to Separate Clothes by Water Temperature?

It's a good idea to separate clothes based on the water temperature required for optimal cleaning. This prevents damage to delicate fabrics and ensures effective cleaning for heavily soiled items.

Can I Dry All of My Laundry Together?

Try to avoid drying all of your laundry together. Different fabrics and garments require different drying temperatures and settings to prevent damage or shrinkage. When in doubt, you can always hang-dry your clothes.

After You Sort, Grab the Sauce

Once your laundry is sorted, it’s time to sauce it. Whether you’re washing out the stink from yesterday’s workout class or your bedsheets after a spicy date night, Laundry Sauce will leave them smelling irresistible.

From Australian Sandalwood to Italian Bergamot and beyond, our laundry detergent pods, dryer sheets, scent boosters, and fabric softeners are infused with luxury fragrances that elevate your laundry routine into a sensual experience.

Take the 2-minute scent quiz to discover your new favorite scent!

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