How to Wash Clothes in a Washing Machine

Knowing how to wash clothes —without ruining them — is a basic life skill. Before you load up the washing machine, you have to do some prep work such as separating items by color and texture, choosing the right washing cycle, and knowing how much detergent to add. All this calls for just a little practice, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Separate and divide for laundry success

Not all fabrics are made the same, so you need to create piles of items based on color and fabric type:

  • Separate light-colored clothes from dark ones: The worst mistake you can make when washing clothes is to mix colored clothes and light-colored clothes in the wash cycle. Clothes (especially new ones) lose some of the dye coloring during the wash cycle, and light-colored fabric will pick up that dye. So don’t put your new red T-shirt in a hot water wash with your white undies if you don’t want your underwear to turn pink!

Separate laundry by fabric or texture: Heavy fabrics like denim jeans and towels require a different washing-machine cycle than delicate items (like bras and lingerie) or medium-weight ones like sheets.

Remember the fabric softener: If you like your towels to be soft and fluffy, add liquid fabric softener to the rinse cycle. (Many washing machines have a special dispenser for liquid fabric softener. You fill this dispenser at the beginning of the wash cycle, and the machine automatically releases it at the proper time.)

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