What is the Best Way to Sort Laundry?

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  • Written By: Mandi R. Hall
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Everyone has different methods when it comes to sorting laundry. There isn’t one correct way to sort laundry, but there are routines that may work better than others in the long run. While lights and darks should be separated, so should different materials and degrees of soiling. Additionally, it’s important to thoroughly inspect each item before tossing it in the washer. Lazy laundering sorting can result in damaged clothing and machines.

When sorting laundry, first sort the clothes by the laundering cycle. Consumers who aren’t sure which laundry cycle to use should consult each garment’s tag. Heavily soiled garments that must be vigorously run through the washer do not belong with dainty panties. Additionally, items that must be rinsed in hot water should be of a sturdy fabric. Acrylic and rayon-type fabrics shouldn’t go through a hot water cycle.

When checking the garment tags, check for any “dry clean only” items. Some experienced launderers have no fear dealing with such clothing. Others who have the time and money should consider letting a professional clean those garments.

Sort laundry by material. Towels and other fabrics that tend to pill can leave lint on other garments. Wash towels and similar items in one load together. Likewise, wash bedding and furniture fabrics in separate loads. Never overfill the washer, as it can cause damage to the machine and leave the clothes looking dingy.


When it’s time to sort laundry, inspect each piece for additional steps. Items with zippers should be zipped while sorting. Likewise, sleeves and pant legs should be pulled out. In some cases, the manufacturer suggests turning items inside out to prevent fading.

When sorting by color, there are a few key points to remember. Not all “darks” should be thrown into the washer together. Many dark denims, for example, continue to bleed through several washes. These items should not be washed with red, orange or charcoal items. The navy dye may still bleed onto these pieces.

Additionally, khakis and creams should not be washed with bright white items. Similar whites should be washed together. If the load contains all white cotton — that is, white socks, underwear, and tee shirts — the load can be bleached and washed in warmer water.

Some people sort laundry by types of clothing, regardless of color. To illustrate, a father might wash all of his kids’ soccer uniforms in one load. This means mixing various colors and fabrics. In families where time is of the essence, sorting in this manner makes the most sense.


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