How to Separate Laundry

May 19, 2023 • Jamie Dorman

We know how tempting it is to throw a whole pile of clothing into the washing machine without sorting it. “What’s the worst that could happen?” you think. And then you open the machine when the cycle is over to find all of your whites are now grey-blue-pink-ish.

Rather than spending tons of time afterwards figuring how to restore your clothes to their original colors, maybe it’s worth taking a few extra minutes beforehand to make sure your laundry is properly sorted.

Remove Dry Clean Only Items

First things first: check your tags. Don’t assume that something can (or can’t) be machine washed based on how it looks or feels. Obey the care tags and set aside anything that says dry clean only.

You might be inclined to throw dry clean only items into the washing machine, but trust us, when your favorite sweater comes out looking like it was made for an infant, you’ll regret it.

Separate Gentle Cycle Items

Next, separate out anything that says to wash on a gentle cycle. These items are usually made of delicate materials that can easily be damaged if combined with rougher materials.

This will usually be a smaller wash pile than the others, but that’s okay. Delicate and gentle cycles are designed for a smaller volume of clothes. It’s also usually a shorter wash, so you may want to wash your delicates while you’re sorting the rest of your clothes.

Separate New Items

If you have bright or deeply colored items that haven’t been through their first wash yet, it’s safest to wash these separately, just for the first time. Things like new jeans and really boldly colored items can have an excess of color that will rinse out when first washed. If these items aren’t separated out, they can leak dye onto the rest of your clothes.

Sort By Colors

Now that your dry clean only and gentle cycle items are removed from the mix, it’s time to get down to business. Most people sort their laundry into three color groups, but if we have enough laundry to do, we actually like to sort it into four: darks, brights, lights, and whites.

Your dark load should contain things like jeans, black pants, and clothing that is navy, dark grey, black, dark green, etc. These colors should be washed with cold water.

Your brights load should include—you guessed it—bright colors. These are your reds, bright pinks and blues, bold yellows and oranges, etc. These are the types of colors that, if they bleed, can ruin a load of unsorted laundry. These can be washed using a warm water cycle.

This next category, we like to call “lights,” and if you have enough laundry to do, we recommend sorting out this fourth group. These are your clothing items that aren’t white but aren’t as bold as your brights. Think pastels and less saturated colors. These can also be washed in a warm water cycle.

Finally, there are your whites. This should be self-explanatory. This is made up of your white items and can be washed on a hot cycle.

Other Sorting Considerations

Once you’ve mastered the basics of how to separate laundry, here are some next level things to keep in mind.

It’s better to wash sheets and towels separately, rather than with your clothes. Clothing can get tangled up in sheets or large towels, and not get as clean as they should.

If you have clothing with a lot of hooks or zippers, you may want to separate these out from knit items, like sweaters, so they don’t catch and damage the material.

If you have really dirty items, like pants that were worn in the mud, or aprons that have a lot of cooking ingredients spilled on them, you might consider washing these separately.

Look at you, now. You’re a laundry sorting expert! So, what’s holding you up? Grab some Sheets Laundry Club Laundry Detergent Sheets and get washing!

@sheetslaundryclub 🌿👚 Want to make your laundry routine more sustainable? Start by separating your clothes using these simple and ecoconscious hacks. From washing your whites in cold water to using natural fabric softeners, these tips will help you save energy, reduce waste, and keep your clothes looking and feeling their best. #laundryhacks #laundrytipsandtricks #sustainablehome ♬ kiss it better sped up - xxtristanxo