Do I Really Need to Separate My Laundry?

Yes, you should separate your laundry by color if you wish to extend the life of your clothes. While separating laundry may seem like an unnecessary step, it helps keep your clothes looking new, longer.

Clothing, towels, sheets, and other items you throw in your washing machine aren’t all the same. They’re made of different materials that often require different washing methods.

Why Do You Separate Laundry? 

There are several reasons why, including:

  • To keep dark-colored items from bleeding into lighter-colored items and looking dingy over time.
  • To wash items according to their required temperature – such as hot water for whites and cool water for colors.
  • To keep specific items together, such as undergarments and sportswear, that may need to be sanitized.

What Happens If You Don't Separate Laundry? 

If you have a load of wash that’s made of similar fabrics that require the same washing and drying care, you can probably skip the sorting step, and nothing too terrible will happen. However, even if your dark colors don’t noticeably bleed out, your white and light-colored clothes will lose brightness over time.

But, if you’ve got items that are made of different materials such as performance wear, towels, sheets, or other items, you’ll want to wash them according to their specific care instructions to ensure they last as long as possible.

Do You Have to Separate Laundry in Cold Water Wash Cycles? 

Not necessarily. If you’re not going to separate your laundry by color, then it’s best to use a cold-water wash cycle. While separating your laundry is still recommended, cold water washing will limit most color transfer. However, your whites will slowly lose their luster if you do this regularly.

How to Separate Laundry? 

If you were never taught how to separate clothes, don’t worry. It’s simple and only takes a few minutes to do. Generally, you’ll get at least three piles of clothes from your laundry basket: one with light colors, one with darks, and one with special care items such as towels and underwear. You may also add a fourth pile of heavily soiled clothes like regular workout wear or muddy kid’s clothes. Each pile should be washed according to the care instructions on the items in it.

While it may seem like added work, these piles are generally smaller than the total laundry basket and don’t take as long to go through a wash/dry cycle.

Here’s the four-step process for sorting your laundry:

1. The best place to start is by reading the care label. This label provides all the information you need to know about how to wash the item in question properly, including the proper washing temperature, washing machine cycle, and drying temperature.

Note: Always separate dry-clean-only items that need special care. And use the gentlest cycle for items that require hand washing.

2. Once you’ve removed the dry-clean-only items, it’s time to sort by color. What colors go together in the laundry?

  • “Lights” including white, pastels, and light-grey clothes. These should go in one pile.
  • “Darks” including navy, brown, dark grey, black, and red. These should go in another pile.

3. Next, you’ll want to sort your two piles by fabric type. This includes materials such as jeans, synthetic fabric such as workout clothes, cotton & blended T-shirts, and delicate lingerie.

Note: Delicates, such as anything made of lace or silk, should be placed in a mesh laundry bag before adding them to the washing machine. This keeps them from getting snagged on the machine and other items in the wash which can ruin the fabric.

Note: You’ll want to pull lint-producing items such as towels and washcloths and separate them from microfiber cloths and polyester blends to reduce the amount of lint and pilling.

4. Finally, you’ll want to pull heavily soiled items out to wash separately. This could include muddy kids’ clothes, greasy work items, and workout clothes. To avoid transferring dirt and grime to less-soiled items, you’ll want to wash these in a separate load, as the soil can deposit on other items in the wash.

Can I Dry White Clothes with Colors? 

No. To avoid color transfer, it’s best to dry white and light clothes separately from dark clothing. Generally, you’ll want to dry items as you’ve separated them for washing.

Some items will be made of a heavier fabric and take longer to dry. Drying them together with lightweight fabrics can cause the lighter fabrics to become over-dried, which can wear the fabric out faster than if it was dried at the proper temperature for the appropriate amount of time.

Be sure to read the care label to make sure the items in question can be machine dried. Some items require a line-dry or to be laid flat to dry.

Need Help Keeping up with Other Household Cleaning Tasks? 

Laundry can be a time-consuming chore. If you’re looking for assistance keeping the rest of your home clean, The Cleaning Authority can help! We provide a wide range of residential cleaning services. Schedule a free estimate online or call us at (888) 658-0659 today!