How to do laundry properly

Sort your laundry according to color (white, light, or dark), fabric type (cotton, linen, or synthetic), and care instructions; also separate the lightly soiled from the heavily soiled items; make a separate pile for knits and delicate fabrics. White and light colors can be combined as long as you use the water temperature or the cycle for the more delicate fabrics.

Empty pockets, close zippers, turn down cuffs, and tie drawstrings and sashes. Rub stains and heavily soiled areas, such as collars, with an enzyme prewash product, liquid detergent, or a paste of dry detergent and water.

Use hot water for white fabrics and very dirty or greasy clothes. (Use cold rinse if permanent press is included.) Use warm waterfor most permanentpress fabrics, light to medium colors, and knits. Use cold water for reds or dark colors. Choose a cycle according to machine instructions.

To get maximum cleaning power from a washing machine, mix small and large items in each load, distribute the laundry evenly, and avoid overloading the tub. Use detergent in the amount recommended on the box or bottle. Too little won’t get clothes clean; too much can discolor fabrics and leave an unpleasant residue.

Use laundry soap only if your water is naturally soft or has been conditionedwith a watersoftener. Minerals in hard water can combine with soap to leave a dingy scum on clothes. Never wash flame-retardant clothes with soap; it destroys the finish.

To whiten cottons and some synthetics (check the bottle label), add chlorine bleach-no more than 1 cup-about 5 minutes after the wash cycle has begun. Put it through the bleach dispenser or dilute it first with water. Chlorine bleach should not be used on silk, wool, or fabrics with resin finishes; use an oxygen (all-fabric) bleach for these. To soften fabrics and reduce static electricity, add a fabric softener to a rinse cycle or to the dryer.