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How do you separate your clothes when you do laundry?

Lindsey R.
2 years ago


Eclectic Glam · More Info


Whites, reds, darks, delicates. What are your laundry rules? Do you separate by colors, shades, delicates?


Share your best practices below!

Comments (150)

  • coray
    2 years ago

    Karen, if this thread has shown you anything, it’s that no 2 people agree on anything! “Love front loaders”, “hate front loaders”, “love my Bosch”, “hate Bosch” and so on, is how it goes. I had a set of Bosch W/D in the past and liked them a lot….they also make smaller machines. Mine were “American-sized”, I never had any problems with load size. They are not super cheap, however. Now I have a set of LG, which work well. As you probably know, front loaders use less water and energy; they also can spin faster, shortening your drying time as well. As long as you let them dry out thoroughly after use, you will be fine. If you do get gunk build-up, use the vinegar method to clean the machine, it’s easy. Consumer Reports consistently rates LG W/D very high; you can get a good set for ca $1500-1700. (My Bosch W/D were double that….I so wish I had not left them in the last house for our jerk of a buyer☹️) Hope this helps! (Again, this is just my humble opinion….I’m sure within the hour you will get 5 opposing ones.😉)

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    @Karen B, it'd be helpful if you cited what brand/model is your current washer of dissatisfaction.

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  • M R
    2 years ago


    This tower has been a life saver. Each family member gets one basket based on their height. The top is for linens and towels. I gather any dirty laundy and wash every evening. I sort and put in baskets, they put it away. We live on a farm with boys, so not many white or delicate items here. Most everything gets thrown in together except our white bedding. Easy, simple, and DONE.

  • Nancy in Mich
    2 years ago

    Dejones9 and coray, yes, that is the situation here. He does not use soap, only shaving cream, and now that he works at home, he shaves less often. When he worked in the office, he shaved daily. He cannot stand to have water spray in his face, so he does not soap it up in the shower, either (a swimming incident as a child gave him a water-over-his-head phobia that extends to showering).
    I bet that the whole thing with the new white towels started after lock-down, though. I don’t remember this problem as much before then. We started using the towels in mid 2018.

    What does anyone think about washing white cotton towels that are labeled “cold water only” in hot?

    BTW, I never use soap, either. I wash my face with a washcloth and hot water except on the days I shower, when I use baby shampoo on my eyes and a KP scrub on my face. At 63, I have been washing with a washcloth and hot water since my teenage acne cleared up. Back when I sometimes wore makeup, I would wash at night with Clinique soap. I still can’t stand the feel of moisturizers on my face!

  • dejones9
    2 years ago

    Nancy in Mich, someone upthread suggested that the recommendation on labels to launder in cold water has to do with manufacturer's convenience. I don't know about that, but all cotton fabric can go in hot water and bath towels and washcloths and dishcloths certainly should be laundered in hot water.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    I bought a set of sheets in 2017 that state wash in cold ... as if, LOL. I always wash them at 125°F to 135°F. No obvious adverse effect thus far. No unshiftable sweaty head stains on the pillow cases.

  • jwvideo
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    A couple of comments in response to the question about washing "cold only" fabrics in hot temperatures.

    First, the term "cold wash" means different things to different folks in different contexts. On a fabric care tag, a "cold wash" contemplates 86°F/30°C. That's where some current washing machines top out with their "hot" settings! This fabric care standard is reflected in domestic and international industry guidelines as well as in regulatory rules (one example for the US being the Federal Trade Commission's 50-year old "Care Labeling Rule.") However, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the North American trade association for washing machine makers, seems to think a "cold wash" should be 65°F to 60°F (18°C).

    Second, there is a long running thread here ---- https://www.houzz.com/discussions/2416696/deep-creases-in-bed-sheet#n=123 ---- where the posters have concluded that, when bedding and towel makers specify cold washes, it is because the current cheap weaving patterns combined with the increasing use of short staple cotton fibers, has made bedding prone to significant, permanent creasing when washed in hot water.

    Like Dadoes, I wash my bedding at 125°F to 135°F despite the "cold wash" prescriptions on the care tags . The sheets and pillowcases all come out clean and white with no apparent adverse effect other than all the hems are exhibiting permanent creases. All of my towels -- including the kitchen towels --- have care instructions for cold washes, as well, They get washed separately from the white bed linens and other whites but otherwise get similar "hot" treatment. Unlike the hemmed sheets and pilowcases, the various towels are showing no apparent ill effects from the higher temperature washes despite my disregard of the prescription for cold washes..

  • arcy_gw
    2 years ago

    A lot of high maintenance washers here. Front load washers--will NEVER understand the WHY. Especially since they discovered the nasty smell issue. Now we have to buy yet another chemical to combat that. All these chemicals end up where people?! Save some water then RUIN it with chemicals. That's a plan? I sort by lights/dark/whites. Even with three kids under five no way would I sort by kid or size or any of that nonsense ..mesh bags?? who has time for that extra step? I did wash my diapers by themselves as a rule. They were a load on their own as I recall. Sheets go in with the color sorting they match as they will fit as my loads are ubber small these days. Delicates? They go with whites...Laundry is a chore to be done with as little muss and fuss as possible in my world. No way am I going to make an event out of it. My sister had a huge issue with her sons filthy white socks in with her white bras. She has more time to CARE about these things than I!!

  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)
    2 years ago

    I avoid white hand towels exactly for that grubby reason...Everyone uses the same side and it ends up filthy from yard work, etc. Bleach doesn't work, but days of soaking in the oxyclean takes care of it. Even better? Only dark hand towels.

  • dejones9
    2 years ago

    jwvideo, all very good points. One other thing I'd been thinking about regarding this subject. It seems to me that the push for cold water wash started in the mid to late 1970s during the "energy crisis". My memory is that is when detergent manufacturers began marketing detergent that they claimed would clean well in cold water.



  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    @arcy_gw,

    Frontloaders are not a new thing as many people apparently believe. The first automatic washer on the U.S. market was a Bendix-brand frontloader in 1936 (1st pic). Bendix also developed the washer/dryer combination in the 1950s which they called Duomatic (one machine that performed both functions without the need to transfer the load). 1954 & 1957 models pictured.

    All the major manufacturers have offered frontload washers or washer/dryer combos. I don't think there has been a time since the Bendix introduction that frontloaders weren't offered on the U.S. market by at least one brand. Maytag made a huge deal of their Neptune introduction in 1997 as if was something never before seen, LOL. 4th pic is from a 1991 Sears catalog.






  • cat_ky
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Westinghouse had a front loader in the 50's, early 60's. The washer and dryer both had a slant front.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    The Kenmore in the 4th photo above is a rebadged Westinghouse (long after they were redesigned with a flat front / non-tilted tub). Westinghouse appliance division was sold to White Consolidated Industries, which also bought several other brands such as Gibson, Kelvinator, and Frigidaire. WCI is now part of Electrolux.

    Westinghouse pioneered stacking sets, called them SpaceMates that could be installed SxS or stacked. They were very popular, I knew people who had them.

    Pics: 1948, 1959, SpaceMates, 1963, 1969, 1970s (Pearl Baily was the spokesperson).








  • georgect
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Ohhhh... I grew up on having a front loader. We had the Westinghouse front loader stacked set in avocado green.

    The washer was quick to clean, used plenty of water, I don't recall it having balancing issues. It would kick into spin without a balancing act.

    Someone posted one in action on Youtube. Loved this Westinghouse set but after that we went to top loaders.



  • Nick
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @dadoes, looking at some of those pictures is making me feel old!. I was also puzzled by the idea that front-loaders are a new thing. I'm in my 50s and can't remember a time when they've not been around. I think we might have had a top-loader for a while when I was a kid, and we had one again in Nigeria about 20 years ago (imported from the US by the previous owner), but otherwise front-loaders have pretty much been the first choice for us (most places the only choice). Like Coray, most of my friends didn't even know they still made top-loaders until they moved here (the fact that I can say that with certainty tells you how boring our dinner conversations must be). It is useful to have the choice, though for most of us, the top-loaders get filtered out of the buying decision pretty early on simply on efficiency grounds. The high efficiency top-loaders are still not as efficient as the front-loaders.

    I do find some of the problems that people have with front-loaders perplexing. For me, they seem to be more about people not using them correctly than problems with the machines themselves. I see it as like driving a car: if you've only ever driven an automatic you can't get into a manual and expect to drive it without using the clutch and gearstick.

    Clearly there is a sizeable market for top-loaders and reading these sorts of threads gives an interesting perspective on advantages that might not have occurred to me. Those advantages might not be relevant to me now, but could prove useful as circumstances and priorities change. I certainly wouldn't want to get caught up in thinking that because something works for me, everyone should live their life that way. In fact, I'm much keener to learn what I can do differently than change what anyone else does.

  • PRO
    kurtjeg
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Black, white and color clothing. But it mostly depends on the cloth.

  • Carrie B
    2 years ago

    I wash everything in cold. I separate out:


    1. "nicer clothes" (which go with towels & sheets) and


    2) my "work" (gardening) clothes, which go with rags, discloths and the like.


    The only reason I separate is so that the grime, dirt and cleaning chemicals on the rags & such doesn't somehow affect my nicer things.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    "The only reason I separate is so that the grime, dirt and cleaning chemicals on the rags & such doesn't somehow affect my nicer things."

    But you wash only in cold water so there may be grunge accumulating in the machine, like the photos above. All the water for all the loads is exposed to it.

  • Aphaea
    2 years ago

    I don't separate anything and I also wash on the hottest water because I want everything to come clean, clean clean. I do use mesh laundry bags for several items that do not go into the dryer but are hung to dry. If that means replacing items more often then so be it. I have a top loader and keep it open at all times except when it has to be closed for washing. And I clean it once every couple of weeks with vinegar poured into the hot water (with nothing in it).

  • armjim
    2 years ago

    I would never wash dishcloths with cleaning rags if only cold water is used to launder them. I assume that means rags used to clean toilets as well as other household things. That just does not seem sanitary to me, no matter which cleaning compounds are used.

  • Aphaea
    2 years ago

    I don't use cleaning rags so that is not an issue for me.

  • Carrie B
    2 years ago

    Have any of you read this article: NYT Wirecutter. "When in doubt, use cold water.

    But maybe you've been using hot water on your whites for as long as you've done laundry, and old habits die hard. Or perhaps you're still worried about germs and bacteria surviving in the cold? By all means, continue to use hot water! If washing towels in hot water makes you feel better even though they'll come out just as clean even using cold water, go for it. (For the record, the heat from the dryer will take care of the germs.)"

  • patriceny
    2 years ago

    My towels, sheets, and such come out much cleaner in hot water. So I use hot water. My stuff looks clean, it smells clean, and there are no residual stains of unknown origin. While many newer towels say to wash in cold water....I ignore that. They're fine in hot.


    If you can get the same results in cold water, I'm happy for you. It didn't work here for me.

  • armjim
    2 years ago

    Hmmm, I would not launder the cloths I use to wash by hand dishes, cookware and glassware that I don't put in the dishwasher with rags I use to clean my toilet with or use to cleanup after my dog has vomited. There are all sorts of articles that will assure you cold water is sufficient, because of the heat of the dryer. Most laboratory research differs, which is why Miele, LG, Bosch et al use very Hot water on most of their cycles, and it is not simply to satisfy customer demand. Seeing the photos that dadoes posts definitely makes me resolute about this, for my household.

  • dejones9
    2 years ago

    I'm not able to see the article Carrie B posted as it's behind a paywall. However, the blanket statement "the heat from the dryer will take care of the germs" is not true. Since I can't read the article, I'll just go with what Carrie has posted. In these articles (linked), the authors show why it's not true. This link says that, in general, if your dryer gets to 135 degrees then it's killing most bacteria. If you have someone in your home with a serious illness you would not want to count on your dryer to kill bacteria that may be hazardous to the person with a serious condition.


    https://www.insider.com/does-the-dryer-kill-germs


    https://dailyhomesafety.com/does-dryer-kill-bacteria-and-germs/




  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    120°F to 135°F is a typical Low or Delicate temperature for dryers. High temp setting typically is 155°F ... although any temperature setting will swing both above and below the control point, which is an average. Those temps are for the exhaust air. The clothes will be at a lower temperature at start of a cycle while substantial moisture is evaporating from them, rising as they progress toward dryness. How much higher and for how long the increased temp is held depends on what is the target dryness level or drying time.

    Some newer dryers nowdays have a Sanitize cycle that targets a more-dry sensor level or continues to run the cycle for a period of time after the target dryness level is reached. The user guide may advise that such a cycle is not suitable for temperature-sensitive items.

  • SEA SEA
    2 years ago

    In case anyone sees this post who is laundering in cold water, please be aware that by doing this, you are not killing or removing bacteria, microbes, dust mites and their excrement, mold or mildew from your fabrics or your washing machine. These unsavory things are staying inside the fabrics of your clothing, towels and sheets. I'm not here to get into a cold vs hot shouting match, but rather out of concern for you and your family.

    Think about where these fabrics go after you wash them: they go on your privates, your face and your skin all over your body.

    Eczema and other rashes (many of them diagnosed as idopathic) can be caused or exacerbated by these unhealthy things living in your clothing and washing machine, among other reasons. Think about someone who does have eczema; depending on the stage of their flare, they can have open sores that are at risk of being an entry point for pathogens into the body. I do have eczema flares from time to time on my hands and I know all too well how unprotected I am during the eruption phase of a flare. I have zero skin barrier to protect me from dangerous substances or pathogens during that time period. Same goes for others during that phase.

    Everyone is free to do as they please, and if you do wash only in cold and are pleased and truly feel good with that, rock on, but being informed leads to making safer choices. Just because someone who is not a scientist, infectious disease specialist or researcher has written an article praising cold water laundering for saving 13 cents on a utility bill does not make this good advise. Think back to how many of our great-grandmothers did laundry. They washed laundry in boiling hot water (kills pathogens). Then they hung laundry on a line to dry, many times in the sun (known to kill pathogens), then they ironed most of the clothing and sheets (also reaches temps high enough to kill pathogens).

    I realize that these blogs and articles are intensely pushing the cold water washing movement, but it's not good for your clothes or your washing machine and for some people, it's not good for the health of your skin due to the resulting microbial build up, which you then wear on your body or dry your body off with or sleep on with your sheets.

    To get back to the topic of this thread, I separate laundry into whites/lights and darks. From there, if something is delicate or heavy weight such as jeans or coats, I will separate further. I wash whites/lights in hot water (140F) and darks in warm water as I want to insure that as much of the body oils and soils such as dead skin cells and dirt and odors are removed from our fabrics as is possible.

  • Nick
    2 years ago

    Assuming the heat from the dryer will take care of the germs is making an assumption that everything goes in a dryer on a hot cycle. Not everything goes in a dryer, not everything can be dried on a hot cycle and there are plenty of people who don't use a dryer at all. I would argue that the heat from ironing is probably more likely to kill off bacteria, but the same sort of counterarguments apply there too. If I need to kill off bacteria because of sickness or whatever, then I would want to rely on the washing temperature to do that.

  • Mafalda May
    2 years ago

    Isn’t detergent supposed to also contribute to the killing of pathogens/allergens in clothes?

  • Nick
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @Mafalda May, that depends on the detergent. In simple terms a detergent and a disinfectant are two different things and neither will do the job of the other. A detergent will 'contribute to the killing of pathogens/allergens', but its primary role is to clean rather than sanitize. You can get antibacterial detergents that combine the two jobs, but they are not common.

  • SEA SEA
    2 years ago

    Powder detergent such as ALL or Tide includes ingredients that will kill pathogens. Using it is warm or hot water will better insure that it actually disolves in the water.

  • dejones9
    2 years ago

    SEA SEA, excellent comment!

  • Mafalda May
    2 years ago

    @SeaSea I use Persil Universal MegaPearls, in either a Miele or an LG front loader, most always in warm water.

  • SEA SEA
    2 years ago

    Mafalda May,

    That detergent you are using is also very good and works to kill microbes, especially in warm or hot water. I didn't mention that one because it's hard for us in the US to get.

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    2 years ago

    I'm not going to argue either way on hot vs cold, but I will mention a couple things:

    1. If you're using hot water because you want the heat to kill whatever, make sure you know which cycles are actually hot enough to do that ... not all hot water is created equal. (This doesn't apply to the argument that hot water desolved or activates detergent better ... for that hot is probably hot. Even warm water may assist in desolving some powders and it certainly isn't killing much at bath water temperature ... that that's the detergent's job at that temperature.)
    2. Oils and such are going to be more about your detergent and agitation than water temperature ... go try it for yourself ... go stick your finger in some vaseline and wash it off ... what works better? A specific temperature or soap and rubbing?

    As for stains, mine soak in a bucket if I think they'll be stubborn ... I sometimes add a drop of soap to that bucket depending on what the stain is.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    Detergent also needs to be dosed sufficiently to kill pathogens (and it doesn't necessarily affect them all). That's one of the points of proper handwashing for COVID in terms of quantity and exposure to the soap ... to insure that it destroys the lipid (fat) membrane that encases the virus. Many people nowadays are terrified of washer suds, particularly with frontloaders, and dose 1 tbsp (or less) of detergent. I've run across someone advising 1 teaspoon for some types of detergents.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    These shirts as an example are years old, are washed between 115°F and 122°F, plenty detergent, and haven't faded or been otherwise adversely affected.


  • acm
    2 years ago

    Dark cottons, light cottons, delicates (dress shirts, bras, a few other items)... Sometimes there's a load for sheets if enough of the house got changed on the same day.

  • Rachel Speal
    2 years ago

    Wow, never knew people had so many problems with front-loaders. Pretty much everyone I know has a front-loader (European - we live in Israel), and in 20 years of washing I've never had or heard of the mold/dirt problem. Maybe it's because here the water gets super hot?


    The highest setting on our washing machine is 95C/203F, which I use for towels and sheets. The lowest setting - cold - is 30C, which at 86F, is still pretty warm. Never had a problem with it ruining even the most delicate of clothing though.


    We're a family of 7, so we have a LOT of laundry. I wash lights, darks, coloreds, and wash the towels and bedding separately. I'll also wash a separate load for fancy clothing, and my husband and I wash our separately from the kids. The older kids wash their stuff separately too, as long as they have a large enough load.


    We have an eco-saver on our washing machine that lets us choose how much water to use, and how long the load should be. Not sure how much that matters since truthfully, it's rare that we actually finish everything at once.

  • Nancy in Mich
    2 years ago

    Rachel Speal, I wonder if the mildew problem in front loader washers is more of an issue in more humid climates? If summers are hot and humid, it is less likely that the dampness will evaporate quickly after washing a load. I know that it is affected by whether the door is left open or not after using the washer here in the US, too. We have not had problems with mildew, but we rarely close our washer’s door between loads.

    You all have convinced me to disregard the US’s move toward using cold water washing for towels and sheets. It makes perfect sense that hot water is better for these items. Now, how do I get my husband to disregard labels on fabrics? Here, most things, including our white towels and sheets, are labeled for cold wash. It is our government’s attempt to meet lower energy use standards. How are such items labeled in Israel?

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    2 years ago

    My favorite care instructions ever have to be this tag:



  • dadoes
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @Rachel Speal, onboard water heaters aren't a standard feature for "mainstream" frontloaders on the U.S. market as they are for brands on the European and other world-market areas (Bosch, Miele, Asko, etc.). Those brands are available in the U.S. but they aren't mainstream.

    U.S.-market models with heaters 1) don't provide selection of water temperature in degrees; 2) usually engage the heater only on stronger cycles such as Sanitize or Allergen, or Whites and Heavy Duty at the highest soil level; 3) operate at 120v so are limited in wattage draw which results in long operating times for heating on those aforementioned cycles, which U.S. consumers tend to avoid; and 4) the highest temps reached are 130°F to 155°F.

    There's also the VERY strong U.S. market push for cold washing, now being touted by celebrities and sports figures in detergent ads.

  • Rachel Speal
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @Nancy in Mich - it's pretty hot here in Israel, and though the city I live in isn't humid (Jerusalem), other cities are pretty humid. I don't leave my washer door open, since our laundry room is so small that we'd have trouble opening up the door to the room if we did that.


    Sorry about your husband though - not sure I know how to convince him to ignore the tags :).

    @dadoes - I forgot about our washers heating up the water on their own. I will say that clothing gets a LOT cleaner with a European machine. When we first came here, I was astounded by how white my whites get. When my in-laws come they're always shocked by how clean my father-in-laws dress shirts get. They're all-cotton, fairly expensive shirts, and they come out looking brand-new.


    I'm not sure why there's a push for washing in cold water either. Our machines are very efficient - electricity costs more here, so they have to be. Honestly I can't even imagine washing towels and sheets in cold water. It feels so unsanitary. Maybe they're pushing it because washing in cold water doesn't get your clothes as clean... which means you have to buy new clothing/bedding earlier than you'd normally need to.

  • Nancy in Mich
    2 years ago

    The push for washing in cold water is all about global warming. In the US, different industries have efficiency standards to meet. The more “efficient” a clothes washer is, the less electricity is used doing the washing and water heating. If they offer fewer and fewer warm/hot cycles and convince the consumer to wash in cold, then they can claim that their machines are more energy efficient and cause less global warming. It is easier to convince a population of this than it is to make an industry give up coal. In other words, our lawmakers feel more beholden to industry than to the voters.

  • Rhonda Calabro
    2 years ago

    You gotta separate the laundry !

  • Erika
    2 years ago

    I break every rule of doing laundry and don't separate anything. Literally, all of my laundry goes in the washer and dryer together. I don't own anything white. I don't buy anything that can't be machine washed and dried. Almost all of my clothes come from thrift stores and have been washed enough not to bleed by the time they get to me. I don't have enough lights, darks, jeans, towels, or bedding to wait for full loads of any one thing by itself. I don't have the space for a divided hamper or shelving for multiple laundry baskets to separate stuff. I don't have the time or energy to worry about it, so I just don't.

  • Momof5x
    2 years ago

    I do them room by room- each family member has a laundry basket in their room, when there is enough for a wash I take the one or ones that have a lot and wash each members separately. If only a couple of whites, I leave it with rest of wash, don’t have many colour run clothes, if enough whites for a separate wash then at that times they get the glow white treatment. I think this is the best way ever, for me anyway, as I just take each to the room when done without having to go through sorting them all.

  • a2gemini
    2 years ago

    Warm sports

    Cold sports - includes cotton/poly mix

    Towels

    Sheets

    Dog and cleaning towels

    An occasional all white load or all cotton load

    My mom had the slant front Westingouse when I was growing up.

    She hated the top loader when she replaced them.

  • BlueberryBundtcake - 6a/5b MA
    2 years ago

    "my clothes got smaller and I didn't know how, it was a headache"


    The most common reason would be items being put in the dryer that prefer to dry on a rack (flat or hanging).


    "I have a lot of alpaca sweaters"


    If machine washable, wool of any type often requires blocking or reshaping after washing in order to retain its form. Most sweaters do best dried flat, so that they A) avoid the heat, etc., of the dryer and B) don't sag under their own wet weight like they might while hanging to dry. A lot of the alpaca yarns I've worked with prefer hand wash to machine wash; superwash wools are generally machine washable, though ... your garments should include care instructions, so no need to guess on that. Wools that specifically state dry clean only or have a temperature restriction (fewer dots in the basin image means lower temperature), take those seriously ... they're trying to avoid turning your wool garment into a felted garment.

  • loobab
    2 years ago

    Agree with above comments about the importance of hot water to sanitize.

    I haven't read every comment on the thread, so sorry if I am repeating-

    I use Shout Color Catchers, and it helps (I think) avoid color leeching from the clothing.

    And I do separate the clothing.

    I have seen photos here of laundry rooms kitted out with stacks of flat drying racks/screens.

    What a wonderful idea for a family with a lot of wool sweaters!


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