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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Laundry, my way: Part II -- Sorting by Color and Fabric


I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I am belaboring this sorting thing. And that's o.k. You can think it. We all do it differently. I'm just telling you what way is best (and of course I think my way is best!). Stick around -- you might just agree with me. ;-)


This is not difficult. Colors are: white, dark, and medium. My guess is, in some way, shape, or form, you sort by color.

Whites are socks, undies, undershirts -- anything that gets chlorine bleach. Medium (also referred to as "color") is anything that is not white or dark, with the exception of whites that can not tolerate chlorine bleach like white dress shirts. Dark is gray/black/navy/red/brown -- anything that might leave dark color or lint on lighter clothes. Linens are in a completely separate category and are not mixed with clothes, but we'll talk about linens later.

Little girl clothes tend to be all about the colors.

A little background: I once had a very long, enlightening conversation with the Maytag man about wash (he's very knowledgeable). I learned from him that all clothes (except whites) lose a little bit of color every time they are washed. Some more than others. Laundry detergents are designed to help prevent that color from settling on other clothes, but inevitably some color is going to wash off one item and onto another. You have to make sure the clothes you wash together can handle the other colors.

While the boy clothes are reds, blues, grays --
it seems it starts that way when they are very little.

Besides being able to handle any color that washes out of one item, clothes have to be able to handle any colored lint that rubs off in the process. You know that little lint catcher in your dryer? All that lint is fabric that is being rubbed off your clothes from friction. Lights washed with darks will eventually garner a light film of dark lint, as will darks garner a light film of white. Some fabrics will gather little lint balls of the opposite color as well --- all from the friction of rubbing together in the washer and dryer. Just the simple act of separating and washing like colors together will keep your fabrics looking like they originally did for a very long time.

You also want to sort by color because you'll find that washing instructions will be similar in like colored items. For example, whites can tolerate hot water and colors can not. Whites can tolerate chlorine bleach as well, and colors and darks should never take anything other than color-safe bleach.

I recently resorted to using a hamper like this to facilitate the color sorting process in my house:

It does help, to some degree, with the process, but admittedly a few of the kids just don't get it (or don't care) and even occasionally my husband "forgets."

Whoops -- wear did it go?


You should also sort by fabric type, roughly categorized (no pun intended) as soft and rough. In my pile of dark clothes, for example, I might have sweat pants, jeans, dark-colored dress shirts, and t-shirts. Stop and think about how rough jeans are. You don't want them tumbling around in the washer with a nice dress shirt, or a soft blouse. Not just the fabric, but the zipper and metal snaps on a pair of jeans will wear out the other fabrics in the load. Sort like weight fabrics together. Lightweight clothes in same color group go together -- t-shirts, socks, dress shirts; heavyweight clothes in same color group go together -- heavy fabrics like denim and heavy weight knits. I can usually do at least two loads of jeans only in a week. I continually try to get my children to wear jeans several times before throwing them in the wash, but inevitably someone spills (or wipes) food on their jeans, or piles them on the floor of their room with a damp towel (urg!).  The same rule applies for colors, though I generally have more alike fabrics in the color pile than unalike. Whites, for me, are pretty much all the same in terms of fabric style. Again, linens are in another category entirely and we'll deal with them next time.

To be continued...

The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men - from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes



  1. You know we all know your way is the best.

    That doesn't mean we'll do it though!


    Do you use bleach every time for your whites?

    I am thinking of doing a white load and bleaching it to see what happens....see? You've inspired me. With 4 girls, though, there really isn't much white. Like you said, little girls clothes are mostly colors!

  2. Jamie, Yes to bleach in the whites. For little girls that's undershirts, white socks and white panties. Faith also has long sleeved white jammie shirts. They can all handle chlorine bleach. The boys' undies get bleached and so does my husband's (I guess you now know he wears whitie tighties!).

  3. Hmmmm...I might have to start sorting my whites just to bleach them. I love using bleach. I use it all the time in my dishwater.

    I use lots of lotion.

  4. Loving this laundry series. I think I will have to subscribe by email, so I don't miss them in my reader. I use a hand-made detergent that has only these 3 ingredients: borax, arm & hammer super washing soda, and a bar a fels-naptha. No bleach, although the sun should do the job for me, but I haven't hung a line yet. I am going to have to do better at sorting, I sort, but can get lazy. I've also had zippers put holes into thin shirts - at least, that is where I think the holes came from. Keep writing about laundry! I like it. Most of us young American housewives (well, I'm only half American, so I have a good advantage ;), but most of us haven't been taught anything about housekeeping before getting married.


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