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How to Do Laundry

Sure, it takes a bit of time and effort to do your laundry, but you've got to admit—it's better than beating it on rocks down by the river.


  • Step 1: Separate clothes Separate your clothes into whites, light colors, delicates, and darks.
  • Step 2: Check clothes Tie ties, zip zippers, and check your pockets to make sure they don't contain anything like money, candy, or lipstick.
  • Step 3: Check labels Check your labels to see if any of your garments need special treatment, information you'll need to know as you proceed.
  • Step 4: Tackle stains To tackle stains, place a concentrated dab of detergent or stain remover on the stains and work it in with a toothbrush or by rubbing the fabric against itself.
  • TIP: When choosing a detergent, remember that powders work best in hard water and to remove clay and mud, while liquids are good at removing grease and oily stains.
  • Step 5: Read packaging Read the product packaging and check to see how much detergent, bleach or liquid fabric softener to add and when. Most machines dispense products automatically but if yours doesn't, the detergent should go in when the machine is full of water, the bleach after the clothes have been soaking a few minutes, and fabric softener during the rinse cycle.
  • Step 6: Load clothes Load clothes into the washing machine, making sure it's no more than three-fourths full.
  • Step 7: Choose cycle Choose your cycle. Use 'regular' for very dirty clothes and heavy cottons, 'permanent press' for your average load, and 'delicates' for knits or lightweight items.
  • TIP: If an article is particularly fine or lacy, hand-wash it to prevent any damage.
  • Step 8: Choose temperature Choose your water temperature. For whites or really dirty colorfast items, use hot water. For most average loads, use warm water. For delicates, bright colors, and to prevent clothes from shrinking, use cold water.
  • Step 9: Hit start Hit the machine's start button, and relax. The average wash cycle will take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes.
  • Step 10: Check dryer In the meantime, check the dryer to make sure there's nothing in it and clean your lint filter by pulling it out and removing any accumulated lint.
  • Step 11: Transfer clothes When the washing machine finishes its cycle and turns off, transfer your clothes into the dryer, again checking the labels. Set aside any garments that say 'hang dry' or 'dry with no heat,' or any that you fear might shrink.
  • Step 12: Add softener sheet If you're using fabric softener sheets instead of liquid, add one sheet to the dryer.
  • Step 13: Choose setting Choose your dryer setting. The "permanent press" setting has a cool down cycle to help reduce wrinkling. The "electronic" or "automatic dry" setting lets you choose how dry you want your clothes to be. "Air fluff" is for drying garments without heat.
  • TIP: If you're in a laundromat, dividing your clothes into multiple dryers will speed up the process -- but hanging them on a clothesline or on a dryer rack at home will conserve energy.
  • Step 14: Fold or hang clothes When your clothes are dry, fold them neatly or hang them immediately to prevent wrinkling -- and to save you from ironing.
  • FACT: Although the first washing machine with a drum was invented in 1782, a fully automatic version didn't make its appearance until 1937.

You Will Need

  • A washing machine
  • Laundry detergent
  • And a dryer
  • Stain remover (optional) (optional)
  • A toothbrush
  • Fabric softener
  • liquid or sheets (optional) (optional)
  • Some bleach
  • A clothesline or drying rack (optional) (optional)

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