hintsandthings.co.uk »Utility Room

How to Sort And Prepare Laundry, Washing etc. to Avoid Colour Run And How to Get The Best Out of Your Washing Machine


For other laundry tips click here!

As you can imagine this is not an exact science – if you were to sort washing pedantically there would probably only be one item for each type of wash.  Modern fabrics, washing powder/liquids and machines have made life a lot easier. 

If a manufacturer has combined a dark and light colour on a garment they usually are pretty confident that the dark colour will not contaminate the white (though with cheaper or counterfeit items this may not be the case).

General rules are as follows:

Check the labels.

  • The care symbols tell you whether an item can be machine washed and at what temperature.

  • Make separate piles with the same symbols.

  • Each pile can be washed using the most appropriate programme.

Sort by colour.

  • Whites, pastels and white background prints that are colourfast should make one load.

  • Colourfast deep coloured another load.

  • “Wash separately” on non-colourfast deep coloured another load.  “Wash separately” on non-colourfast items means simply that.

  • Sort items for hand washing, especially woollens.

If there are not enough items to make up a full machine load of each type, you can mix loads with different care labels, but ….

  • DO
    choose the programme to suit the most delicate item in the pile i.e. the lowest temperature and most gentle washing action.

  • DO
    remember that white and fast colour fabrics need to be cleaned at the recommended higher temperature roughly every third wash to keep their brightness.

  • DON’T
    risk mixing deep colours with light colours, no matter how colourfast they are they do turn light colours dingy, especially synthetic materials such as polyester/cotton.

  • DON’T
    include clothes marked “Wash separately” – the colour is likely to run and stain other clothes.

    pockets are empty – tissues can result in the whole wash being covered with paper particles which are terribly difficult to remove.

    all accessories such as belts, jewellery etc.

    leaving damp articles in a basket as mildew spots are likely to form and these can be impossible to remove.

  • Wash garments frequently – they are easier to clean if the dirt has not been allowed to build up.

  • DON’T
    overload the machine as this not only effects the finished results as far as cleanliness is concerned but also the need to iron.  Fewer items in each load reduces the amount of ironing required.

  • Mix large and small items in each load as the movement of the smaller items makes for a cleaner wash.Load items one at a time, opening them out before placing in the machine.

  • Before washing knitted fabric, jeans, corduroy, textured fabric and sweatshirts, turn them inside out.  This is said to help prevent the “bobbling” on some fabrics and also keeps the pile of others in better condition.