My Bag

You're $50.00 away from FREE SHIPPING!
*Some Exclusions Apply

Your cart is currently empty.

How To Separate & Sort Your Laundry Like An Expert | The Laundress

STEP 1:

Check Label

Before washing any item, checking labels is a must for sorting clothes. There, you'll find its fabric content, such as 100% cotton or 65% polyester or 35% cotton. Before separating by color, it’s actually most important to determine fabric content. This will dictate your washing methods, including water temperature, washing cycle, and drying method.

How to sort laundry- Step 1

STEP 2:

Sorting Blended Fabrics

Our rule of thumb for washing a blend is to follow the instructions for the fabric with the highest percentage. For example, if the label indicates that a shirt contains a blend of 70% cotton and 30% polyester, follow our washing instructions for cotton.


If the item contains any amount of silk, follow the washing instructions for silk even if the silk percentage is small. The same rule applies to all woolens and cashmere. If an item contains both silk and wool, follow the washing instructions for wool. These delicate fabrics are too sensitive for regular washing methods and must be laundered separately to keep them looking new.


Most “dry clean” tagged items—about 90%—can be safely laundered at home using the right fabric-specific detergent formulas that cleanse and protect delicate natural and synthetic fibers as opposed to stripping them. Watch out for fabrics with heavy embellishment, leather patches, over-dyed patterns, and items tagged “do not wash” however. Some fabrics are not designed to withstand water exposure and should be professionally cleaned. Learn more about these fabrics here.

how to sort laundry step 2
how to sort laundry step 3

STEP 3:

Create Piles

To tackle a supersized laundry pile, the next step is to separate your items into groups. You can actually pre-sort items to make life easier by using one of our handy sorting hampers, like the Triple and Double Sorters, or Steele Hampers.


how to sort laundry step 4

STEP 4:

Color Code

Then, for best results and maximum color longevity, separate each pile into three smaller piles: white or light clothes, dark clothes, and colors. For patterned items (such as stripes, plaids, polka dots, and florals), sort based on the dominant color. If no single color is dominant, take your pick of piles or launder separately. After sorting, wash each smaller pile separately.

 

Why should I wash denim or activewear separately? Are there any items I can combine to streamline washing? Well, in an ideal world, separating fabrics into the groups detailed in Step 4 helps to protect fabrics, prevent dye bleeding, lint transfer, and achieve the most efficient clean. That being said, most durable fabrics in similar colors can be combined in a pinch, or if you only have a small amount of items to wash. Durable fabrics are those made of cottons, linens, and hardy synthetics designed to withstand a lot of wash and wear. Keep in mind that when combining items like workout clothes with fluffy fabrics like towels, you may experience lint transfer, so it’s best to preserve items in a Mesh Washing Bag.

how to sort laundry step 5

STEP 5:

Pretreat Stained Items

Pretreating stains and odors before laundering your sorted laundry is one of the best ways to keep fabrics looking fresh and new for longer.

Use the Wash & Stain Bar to pretreat oil-based stains, ring-around the collar, and tricky straps and underwire.

Use the Stain Solution to pretreat protein and tannin stains such as wine, coffee, ink, grass, urine, and blood. This solution is also effective on pit stains and other old, set-in stains.

Check out our Stain Guide for step-by-step stain removal instructions!

How to sort laundry step 6

STEP 6:

Bag It

Protect delicates, woolens, performance fabrics, and denim by turning them inside out and placing them in Mesh Washing Bags. Mesh Bags prevent snagging, tearing, and tangling, and provide a layer of protection between delicate items and other fabrics. In a load of mixed colors or patterns, they can also be useful for preventing darker colored items from accumulating “fluff” or lint from lighter colored items. These handy bags are also great for preventing small items (such as socks) from getting lost in the wash.

how to sort laundry step 7

STEP 7:

Launder

Wash each pile according to fabric type. If you are unsure of how to best clean a fabric, you may look it up in our Washing Fabrics A-Z to quickly learn the best and safest way to care for it, step by step.

 

Everyday fabrics like cotton, linen, and durable synthetics are the most straightforward fabrics to launder. White clothes and light clothes in everyday fabrics can be washed in warm to hot water on a normal cycle with Signature Detergent, or the color-safe Whites Detergent for extra brightening. Dark clothes and rich colors in everyday fabrics can benefit from the color-saving properties of cool to warm water temperature, but can typically still be laundered on a normal washing cycle using Signature or Darks Detergent. Bear in mind that when specifically laundering towels, the best way to keep them soft, fluffy and odor-free is to launder them separately, and to avoid over-using detergent. These absorbent fabrics soak up excess product easily, causing them to feel stiff even after washing.

 

For sensitive, “dry clean” fabrics, take special care. Use our Wool & Cashmere Shampoo formula to clean knits and sweaters made of cashmere, wool, alpaca, merino, and knit blends, and Delicate Wash for silk, silk-like synthetics, lace, and delicate blends. Always launder using a cold washing temperature, and protect items using Mesh Washing Bags—or simply hand wash separately using a Wash Basin.


STEP 8:

Dry

Machine drying is typically where we see the most fabric damage occur, so take care to avoid machine drying sensitive fabrics. The high heat and agitation from tumble drying can lead to shrinkage, fading, and weakening of garments. By selecting the right drying temperature (or by simply air drying), you can prevent damage to clothing and keep your favorite items in rotation for longer. Dryers also use up a lot of energy, so air drying is the more eco-conscious choice when feasible!

 

Everyday fabrics like cotton, linen, and durable synthetics can be machine dried on a warm to hot setting. Toss in a set of Wool Dryer Balls to speed up laundry's dry time, remove static and lint, and fluff up fabrics! Always be sure to check tags before placing an item in the dryer—while most everyday fabrics can tolerate higher temperatures, some have detailing or attachments that can’t take the heat. Synthetic workout clothing should never be machine dried as it breaks down the elastic and can cause pilling—air dry instead to keep your athletic wear around for longer.

 

Delicate fabrics, including wool, cashmere, lace, silk, and dry clean tagged synthetics should never, ever be placed in the dryer. Not sure whether to hang or to lay flat? The general rule of thumb is to go by the weight of the item—heavy fabrics (think knits and sweaters) should be laid flat and floatier fabrics (silk, chiffon, lingerie), can be hung up. Mist wrinkle-prone items like blouses with Crease Release while damp to achieve a smooth finish.