Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laundry, my way: Part II -- Sorting by Care Label

 Now that we have discussed the psychology of laundry and we agree that it must be done (we wear them every day, thus we must wash them every day), let's get down to business.


This is one of those areas where everyone does it differently. I would guess that most people sort their laundry, at least to some degree, but there are a few people who don't sort at all. I have known people who don't sort their laundry, and I'm sorry to say, if you are one of them, there's a good chance that all your clothes are gray. I think that young people most definitely fall into the category of non-sorters. My college-age son sees no value in sorting clothes. To him, it just makes more work. He also sees nothing wrong with gray socks and gray undershirts. I hate gray clothes (unless they were originally gray). If I buy my daughter a pretty pink shirt, I want it to stay pink. And if I buy my husband a nice blue dress shirt, I want it to stay blue. You get the picture.

Even dish towels should look clean and cared for.

Sorting is, in my opinion, one of the crucial areas where, if you don't do it right, your clothes will not look good for long, and that, is a waste of money (unless you don't care how your clothes look, and in that case you probably aren't reading).

I sort by several methods, and then, if needed I will combine piles to make for efficient washing. I have four adult-sized people in my house however, so it's really not all that hard to make large piles of fairly well sorted clothes. If you have a large family of little people, or a medium family of large people, it's probably not hard for you either.

 All clean laundry should be fresh as a daisy.

My piles generally are sorted according to method of washing, color, fabric and wearer/use. Today we'll talk about method of washing, or Care Labels.

By and large, Method of Washing for me means: Dry Clean Only, Hand Wash Only and Machine Wash. One would think that this is pretty self-explanatory but if you looked at clothing care labels lately, you see it is not. Care Labels these days are complicated and might as well be written in Greek. Some have only odd-looking symbols on them and good luck deciphering those! It helps to have a page like this bookmarked, just in case you really need to know what those symbols mean. Print it out and hang it over your washer for quick reference.

Faith (age three) and her Mimi (my mother) looking very spunky in their red, white and blues.

I read the care label of an item usually once, when it is brand new. Unless is has some pretty picky instructions, it gets washed with other like items. What most people don't know about Care Labels is that a manufacturer is only required to give you one set of instructions. An item could potentially be dry cleanable, hand washable or even machine washable, but the manufacturer may just put Dry Clean Only to cover their you-know-what. It helps to know a little bit about fabrics if you are going to test the water, so to speak. Usually manufacturers put the safest instructions on the Care Label, and that's the best method to use for washing. However, for the sake of efficient washing, you may want to put an item to the test and wash it with other like items. Look to see what the fabric is and if you have other items like it that go through the wash, and are willing to risk any damage, go for it. I have rarely ruined an item completely. Occasionally I'll decide that an item didn't test so well and I will refer back to the care label in the future. If an item was expensive, however, it's not worth the risk and you should care for it as the care label states.

You can see we have our favorite colors.

To sort according to Care Label usually means removing from the bulk of the laundry any item that needs special care. It's best not to include these items with the bulk of your laundry, in case it would slip through to a machine wash pile. In my house dry clean items go on a special shelf and hand wash items go in a special bag that hangs on the hamper. Every thing else then gets sorted according to wearer/use, color, and fabric, all of which take in to consideration that one little line on the Care Label that says "wash with like items."

To be continued...

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry. -- E. B. White 



  1. I quit sorting after the 4th baby. It has made my life so much easier. I don't have gray clothes, because I don't buy white things. I do have some white things, pretty much just socks. The kiddos have...I can only think of one or two items that are white...and they are play clothes.

    I do wash new darks separate, but that's it.

    I'm bad, I know, but it's one of those things I did to simplify with this many kiddos.

    With doing laundry every day, how do you get enough whites for a white load? Or do you save whites for another day? (after a few days have added up)

  2. We keep multiple hampers, too, and everybody learns to sort their one clothes into either lights or darks. I don't worry about whites most of the time.

  3. I avoid "dry clean only" like the plague.

    Otherwise, my system is very similar to yours. I do at least 2 loads every day, just to keep from having it pile up.

  4. Lights, darks, and whites, here. And an Elmo magnet that goes inside the washer lid if there's an item that can't be dried!

    The priest who came over for the taco fiasco told me that he finally started buying underwear and t-shirts in black because he didn't like washing tiny loads of whites! LOL.

  5. Jamie, If you separate darks then you do separate. ;-) I don't do every color every day -- but I do some loads every day.

    I wish I could say my people are trained to separate but they just don't get it (they just don't care!). I still find whites in the darks and darks in the colors.

    Jenny, Mostly the only dry cleaning in our house is my husband's suits. I try to avoid them, too.

    Ya know, Sara, my oldest wanted gray and black undershirts the last time we bought them. Now I know why! He still has white/gray socks, however. It makes me nuts on the rare occasions that he brings his laundry home. It's just not possible to bleach them back to white.

  6. Whites are always separate. I've taught my kids the order of sorting and they're doing pretty good. I've noticed, though, that a few of Dan's under shirts are turning an off yellow colour (all over, not just the pits, if you get my meaning). I've tried bleach and I've tried Oxy Clean to no avail. I figured they must be old and threw them out.

    The water in HI may not be the best either . . . it's harder to keep them clean here and I attribute it to the water.

  7. No, no, no, I only separate NEW darks, because the only time they seem to fade (at least in my experience) is that first wash.

    Now, this HAS gotten me into trouble a couple times. One time I put this new like cloth rug thing, bright green in a load with a bed quilt, it turned the quilt green on one end, but I immediately washed it with bleach and it came out. (I also prayed to our Angels)

    I DO sort towels and wash them separate.

    I'm bad, I should sort more!

  8. I hope you do one on fluffing and folding!

  9. Sarah, All undershirts eventually get to a point where they have to be pitched!

    Oh, Jamie -- slapping my head here! Must, must start sorting more. And I have a feeling you won't like what I have to say about fluffing and folding! ;-)

  10. You can talk about fluffing and folding, but I don't want to hear anything about ironing! Not listening to that!

  11. Oh, no Barbara, I'm a big fluffer. Loads must be fluffed and folded right away! See? I think I'm going to like what you say about it!


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!