Clean Laundry 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Doing It Right

beginner guide to laundry

If you’ve never done laundry before, no stress! Everyone has to start somewhere. Doing your own laundry might be intimidating, but with this simple guide, you’ll be a laundry pro in no time. Here, we’ll give you an easy step-by-step guide on doing your laundry for the first time and doing it right.

Sort Your Clothes

First things first, you need to sort your clothes. Separate your lights, darks, and delicates at the minimum. You can also separate out your white clothes if you want to, but they should be fine with other light-colored items. Delicates are going to be things that require special treatment, such as lingerie, bras, and athletic wear. 

Treat Stains

You need to treat your stains BEFORE your clothes go in the wash. Depending on what the stain is, use an appropriate spray or solution for what you’re trying to get out. There are tons of different sprays on the market, so find one that works for your stain. 

Pick Your Products

Next, you need to get your detergent. Depending on the detergent and how large your load of laundry is, you’ll need different amounts. If you have an HE (high efficiency) washing machine, make sure to buy a HE-compliant detergent. Read the label carefully and use the provided measuring cup to avoid wasting detergent. You should avoid using fabric softener when you can, as it can mess up your machine and your clothes. It’s ok to use occasionally, but it’s not recommended to use every time.

Wash Cycle

Pick the right wash cycle for your clothes. Your machine should have some preset cycles for towels, bedding, whites, and regular laundry. If your items are particularly dirty, use a heavy wash cycle to make sure they get nice and clean. For most loads, a cold wash is perfect. However, sheets, cotton underwear, and towels are some items that benefit from being washed on a hot cycle. Just read the label to make sure you’re picking the right options. Be careful to never leave wet clothes in the washing machine for too long. It can cause mildew and make your clothes (and machine) stink.

Don’t Overload the Machine

This one is important. Small loads wash better. Clothes need room to move around in order to get clean. If you pack your washing machine full, the clothes might not come out as clean as they should. Packing your dryer will definitely lead to your clothes or items having wet spots and not drying well. 


The most important laundry tip is to clean out the lint trap EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Always check for lint before drying any of your clothes. Many modern dryers have preset cycles you can use for whatever you’re washing, similar to the washing machine’s options. Be sure to go through all your items to make sure there isn’t anything that can’t be dried. Air drying your clothes will help them last longer and prevent shrinkage, but takes time and space. If that’s not an option for you, just pick the right cycle for your items. 

Fold and Hang

As soon as your clean laundry is dry, pull it out immediately. Letting your clothes sit in the dryer will cause them to wrinkle, and, let’s face it, nobody wants to get out the iron if they don’t have to. Any clothes that are prone to wrinkling should be hung up.

Take Care of Your Machines

If you have your own washing machine, leave it open for a couple of hours after emptying it so it can dry out. This will help prevent any mildew or weird smells coming from your machine. It’ll also help prevent your clean laundry from smelling weird. Once a month, wipe out your machine with a cloth and run a tub clean cycle to clean out any build-up in your washing machine. You can buy tablets or liquids specifically meant for cleaning out washing machines, or you can just use a little bleach. Every once in a while, you should disconnect your dryer from the wall and clean out the lint. 

When you’re first learning to do your own laundry, you might make a few mistakes. That’s ok! We’ve all been there. Just read your labels and instructions carefully and follow these tips to be on your way to a clean, fresh wardrobe in no time!

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