Separating Whites, Colors, and Delicates in the Washing Machine

a basket of laundry

The washing machine is a great invention that allows us to clean our clothes with little effort in a short period of time. Maximize the performance of your washer by separating clothing by color, using stain remover, properly loading the machine, and adding the right detergent.

Separating the Laundry

When washing clothes, protect them by separating colors. Dark colors washed with light or white colored clothing can bleed colors onto the other garments. The classic scenario is turning your white clothing pink by leaving a red item in the laundry. To safely wash your clothing, separate by material such as cotton, permanent press, delicates, and things that cause heavy lint.

Sorting Clothing by Color

Before washing clothes, group them by color. Whites are t-shirts, underwear, linens, towels and socks. Here is how to wash socks. Note that white clothing with even a small amount of color should be washed with light colored clothing. It is safe to use bleach in the washing machine when you have only whites together.

Light colored clothes are considered pale colors like blues, pinks, greens, yellows, and lavender. Clothing includes solids, prints, and stripes.

Dark and bright colored clothing can be saturated with dye. Washing new clothing separately a couple of times before combining garments prevents the colors from running onto other items. Here is our guide on how to prevent bleeding and fading in the washing machine.

Separating Clothing by Material

Delicates like bras, lingerie, and sweaters made from special care fabrics need to be washed separately from other laundry. Separating cotton and permanent press clothing is helpful, since they require different washing cycles. Towels and sweatshirts leave a lot of lint behind in the clothes dryer, so wash and dry them together in the same load.

Check Pockets and Zip Up

Check pockets before placing laundry in the washing machine, otherwise you can end up washing gum, money, wallets, cell phones, or ipods. It’s especially annoying when tissues or paper are left in pockets, because they shred in the washing machine and get stuck to the clothing. Zip up and close hooks on clothing to stop it from snagging on other items in the wash.

Spot the Stain and Loading the Laundry

Look for and treat stains before starting the washing machine. Use stain remover if clothing is heavily soiled. In order to get clothing clean in the wash, it needs room to move around, so don’t overload the washing machine.

Water Temperatures

Always read the label of the garment you are washing for care instructions. If a water temperature isn’t recommended, the following are generally used.

Whites should be in hot water

Lights, darks, and bright colors should be in warm water

Delicates should be in cold water

Laundry Detergent

Choose the right detergent for your washing machine. A front load washing machine needs a detergent that isn’t as sudsy as regular solutions. Other than using the right type of detergent for your washing machine, it's your preference as to what brand you use.

These tips can come in handy even if you've already been doing laundry on your own. Separating whites, colors, and delicates in the washing machine will help extend the life of your garments.