Just up ahead, also get expert advice and read about the do's and don'ts of laundry washing including presorting, tips on getting rid of common stains, along with special instructions about how to wash silks, wool, cashmere and other delicate fabrics ....
As you are presorting laundry, don't forget to empty your pockets. There's nothing quite like hearing the blood-curdling noise of your keys or credit cards tapping - too late! against the sides of the washing machine or dryer as they spin.
Otherwise, the basics for presorting laundry is to first separate whites from colors and darks. This prevents your bright colors from fading, or your colors bleeding into your white clothes. Mixing reds and whites especially may result in "pink laundry syndrome".
In homes with one washing machine, plan on three separate laundry chores for whites, colors and darks. At the laundromat, wash clothes separately in three different machines.
Don't forget to bring the proper amount of coins (ask the laundromat manager, or look for machines dispensing spare change, as well as laundry detergent and fabric softener.)
Whether at home or at the laundromat, three-quarters full should be the maximum amount of clothes to add to any washing machine or you may risk not getting your clothes properly cleaned.
Follow washing machine operating instructions, including when to add detergent, bleach, and fabric softener (or opt for a fabric softener dryer sheet to add to the dryer later.)
A word about water temperature
In general, use cold water to protect woolen clothes from shrinkage, and colors and darks from bleeding or fading. Use warm water for jeans and permanent press. Use hot water for durable fabrics like cotton t-shirts or sweatshirts.
Before turning the machine on, be sure you're washing your laundry at the correct water temperature. You can usually find this information on clothes tags, your washing machine's instructions, or check the side of your detergent box for recommendations.
Once you're locked and loaded, stand back and let the washing machine do its work. All washing machines feature three separate automatic cycles include washing, rinsing, and spin dry, each taking about 15 minutes for a total of about 45 minutes.
Drying & folding clothes
Once the spin dry cycle is complete and the machine has stopped, place clothes in the dryer. Now is the time to add a fabric softener dryer sheet if you hadn't already added liquid fabric softener to the wash.
Allow enough time for clothes to dry thoroughly (for average loads, about 45 minutes to an hour.) When clothes are dry, begin folding them or placing them on hangers while they are still warm to avoid wrinkles.
More about woolens and delicate fabrics
Although most manufacturers recommend dry cleaning for most delicates like wool, cashmere, silk and rayon, here are some tips for successfully washing these fabrics by hand, and without the use of harsh dry cleaning chemicals:
Always use cool or lukewarm water, especially when washing wool.
Recommended cleaning products include: mild castille soap, Ivory soap, baby shampoo, or Woolite for wool or cashmere.
Never agitate delicate fabrics. Let them soak clean.
After washing, block wool by laying the garment on a flat surface and gently stretching it back to the correct size and shape, then hang dry.
To get rid of stains like perspiration, chocolate, coffee, and ink stains usually requires a good presoak before adding to your regular laundry. Follow these tips for getting out common stains from clothes and delicate fabrics using these proven methods:
Perspiration stains - Pour on your favorite stain-removing or oxygenated detergent (Oxiclean) at full strength and let soak for 15-20 minutes before adding to the washing machine.
Coffee or chocolate stains - Treat fresh stains immediately by sprinkling some baking soda on a damp cloth and wipe clean (as with all stains, the faster you take action the easier it is to get out.)
Ink stains - Apply hairspray to immediately loosen ink's hold on fabric, then scrub in a little liquid detergent to clean thoroughly. (The active ingredient in hairspray is alcohol, so use rubbing alcohol first if it is more readily available.)
Grass stains - Use any liquid or powder detergent as a presoak. For durable fabrics like jeans, try soaking in a heavy-duty liquid detergent like Pine-Sol before washing.
For all delicate fabrics (see above) - Spot clean any stains with diluted vinegar or lemon juice, but test in an inconspicuous area first for color fastness, then hand wash.
How to Do Laundry- Check out the basic eHow guide for the laundry beginner with step-by-step instructions for presorting laundry, water temperature, detergents and fabric softeners, drying and folding, with related tips and warnings.
Tips and Tutorials to Do Laundry - The About.com guide offers an extensive library of helpful feature articles and how to's for washing clothes, avoiding color fading, getting rid of odors, washing baby clothes, and related advice.
Laundry Tips and Tricks - Handy tips and methods for removing gum, lipstick, rust stains and more include additional information on getting rid of sour smells and other odors from clothing, with related household hints.