There is a way to do your laundry that is efficient and effective. Follow this process recommended by Consumer Reports to systematically go through the laundering process for best results.
Separate colored garments from white and light colored, and cottons from synthetics and delicate fabrics. Group bed linen with white cottons. Jeans can be washed with colored cottons. Badly soiled or moldy garments should be treated separately before adding to the machine.
2. Pre-treat stains
Stained garments should be pretreated with the appropriate cleaning agents. (See the different kinds of products below.) Detergent can be applied directly on the stain, or the garment can be soaked in a solution of detergent and water. An alternative for mild stains is to presoak the stained garments in the washer in which bleach is added. Some machines have a soak cycle. On top loading machines, you can lift the lid for the soak period before starting the agitation.
3. Load the machine and select wash cycles.
The machine should not be overloaded; follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for proper loading and cycle selection. For top loading machines, fill with water first, adding detergent as it is filling, then add the clothes. Add the bleach a few minutes after the agitator starts running.
A warm rinse releases more residues then a cold rinse and is more effective for getting water out.
4. Use the right amount of cleaning agent
It’s important not to overdose–using too much detergent can leave a residue on your clothes and is not good for the machine. Front loading machines use much less detergent than top loading machines. It’s difficult to see the fill lines of some detergent caps so you might highlight them with a permanent marker.
Stain removal and washing are accomplished by using a large variety of laundry products. The Cleaning Institute describes these products.
Types of Cleaning Agents
1. Laundry detergents
Laundry detergents come in different forms such as powders, liquids, gels, sprays or bars. General purpose detergents can be used for all washable fabrics. Liquids are good for pretreating soils and stains. There are also light duty liquid detergents that are suitable for hand washing and for delicate fabrics.
Bleaches are used to whiten and brighten fabrics and to remove stains. Chlorine bleaches can also disinfect and deodorize. Oxygen bleaches work best in hot water, are recommended by environmentalists and are safe for almost all washable fabrics.
Bluing counteracts the yellowing of fabrics to bring out the whiteness.
Enzymes are used to presoak garments to remove stubborn stains, especially food stains from proteins, oils and starches. They increase the cleaning power when added to wash water.
5. Fabric Softeners
These are used in the final rinse or added to the dryer to soften fabrics.
You may want to try different processes and cleaning agents to find ways and products that best suit you. Review also the manufacturer’s recommendations for dos and don’ts for your appliances. Once you are clear on how to clean the various garments you produce for your laundry, wash day will become routine and efficient.