How to do laundry
In order to give your clothes the Kair they deserve (and of course keep them clean), it’s important to know how to do laundry properly. It’s not a difficult process if you know how: today’s fabrics, detergents and machines make it easy to get it right. Follow our 10 easy steps for clean and pristine laundry, so you can wash carefully and wear carefree.
1) Check whether to wash or not
Image source: In The Wash
Before washing, it’s important to ask yourself: is it really dirty, and do I really need to wash it? Some fabrics, like cashmere and wool, can go wash-free for as many as 7-10 wears. Consider using finishing spray to refresh between washes: a time, wardrobe and planet-friendly alternative, which instantly releases creases and revitalises garments.
2) Check the instructions
Before you reach for the detergent, check the garment label. It's as important to pay attention to the fabric content as to the care instructions themselves (if you’re unsure about these, check out our guide on decoding laundry care symbols). Once you know what your garment’s made of, you can easily learn the most effective way to care for it (whether to machine or hand wash, which cycle and temperature to use). If your garment contains a mixture of fibres, follow the instructions for the most delicate fabric.
3) Sort and separate
Always separate your laundry into categories (darks, lights, colours, delicates). Separating by colour is especially important, as it reduces the risk of strong- or dark-coloured items ‘bleeding’ onto lighter-coloured ones (having designated labelled laundry baskets for each clothing type and/or colour is helpful). Put heavily soiled items, as well as sheets and towels into their own pile, and wash them separately. Wash lint-producing fabrics (such as cotton and terry cloth) and lint-attracting fabrics (such as linens, synthetics, knits, and corduroy fabrics) in different loads to each other, where possible.
4) Prepare each item
Image source: The Spruce
Before you load up your machine, or prepare to hand wash instead, it’s important to take a few preliminary measures, to make sure your garments won’t come to harm when washed.
~ Zip up zips and fasten VELCRO® (to prevent snagging other garments in the drum).
~ Unbutton buttons (to avoid straining the fabric and buttons themselves).
~ Check pockets, and remove tissues and items such as keys and coins.
~ Remove detachable items/embellishments (like belts and brooches).
~ Turn the following inside out to reduce fading, preserve brightness, and protect fabric finishes: patterned clothes; knitted items; textured fabric and corduroy; dark colours.
~ Pre-treat any stained items (dab the stains with a little detergent and cold water) to prevent them setting when washed (see our 101 stain removal 101 guide).
5) Choose the right detergent
Choose the appropriate detergent for the fabric type, and determine whether or not to use fabric conditioner as well (if you’re unsure, check out our ultimate guide to fabric conditioner). Be sure to use gentle detergents and conditioners, like one of ours, which won’t degrade fibres, or cause discolouration and irritate skin, and stick to the recommended dose.
~ Everyday items (T-shirts, tops, socks, underwear, sheets, towels), cotton, linen, durable synthetic fabrics, heavily soiled items: one of our Signature Clothing Washes.
~ Activewear and performance fabrics: Activewear Wash.
~ Delicates and hand wash only: Wool, Silk & Delicates Wash.
~ Microfibre cloths and towels, activewear with wicking properties, flameproof clothes (especially children’s clothes/pyjamas), water-resistant items: don’t use fabric conditioner.
6) Select the right temperature and cycle
Most items can be effectively washed at a cool temperature (no more than 30°C). Cold washes are usually better for the fabric, and always better for the planet. The washing cycle you choose depends on the fabric, but for most loads a normal cycle is fine. For jeans, polyester and non-cotton items, you might want to opt for permanent press, and for delicate items (or if you’re ever in doubt), always choose the delicates or hand wash cycle.
7) Load the machine or hand wash
Image source: Martha Stewart
Load your items into the machine carefully before starting the machine (see our guide on how to use a washing machine). Be sure to leave enough space for your clothes to move around in the wash. If your palm can fit between the clothes and the machine, then you’ve loaded properly, otherwise take some items out before proceeding. You may wish to hand wash your clothes instead, especially for smaller loads, or if you’re travelling (see our post on hand washing for the full method). But most items, even delicate ones, can be safely machine washed, as long as you choose the right temperature and cycle, and use a mesh laundry bag for extra protection inside the drum.
8) Take out your items
To maximise freshness and reduce creases, unload immediately after washing. Gently press out excess water by rolling the fabric in a towel (never wring or twist).
9) Air dry and finish
It’s best to dry naturally, as the combination of heat and agitation when tumble drying can damage both the shape and elasticity of clothing fibres. Summer sunlight is nature’s own dryer, but even in the wintriest of months, all you need is a drying rack or hangers (always hang silk items in particular, and use padded hangers rather than wire ones where possible). Dry coloured and delicate items inside out, bottoms from the top, and tops from the bottom to avoid creases. For woollens, avoid heat sources like radiators and lay flat to prevent stretching. Once dry, spritz your pieces with some of our Signature Finishing Spray, to release wrinkles and infuse with lasting luxury. Then you’re good to go!
10) Hang or fold away and store
Image source: Home & Decor Singapore
Either hang your clothes, or fold them away and tuck them in a drawer. Whether you hang or fold depends on how much space you have, and also on the type of garment. For long-term seasonal storage, we recommend using vacuum bags or airtight containers, and for delicate items, or for when travelling, clothes covers can provide extra protection. If you’re folding delicates, it’s a good idea to put acid-free tissue paper between the folds.
~ Hang: ‘flowy’ fabrics (like silk and chiffon), linen, blouses, jackets, most trousers (except jeans, which may be hung or folded), most dresses (except very heavy dresses).
~ Fold: thick jumpers, activewear, shorts, heavy dresses.
~ Hang OR fold: T-shirts, jeans, scarves, shawls.
Follow these 10 steps, and you’ll be a laundry pro in no time. We also recommend doing your laundry regularly, as it can be overwhelming to face a mountain of dirty clothes.
Cover image source: Getty Images