Join our community of Solution Seekers!

Laundry Basics

How to Do Laundry

A no-spin guide to washing clothes, car-seat covers, and nearly everything in between.

By Sarah Stebbins
A clean and organized laundry roomJohn Gruen

 

Jeans

  • Wash jeans in cold water. Most denim is top-dyed, meaning only the surface of the fibers is colored. To keep jeans from fading or acquiring white streaks, wash in small loads in cold water (with more water than clothes) with all-purpose detergent. This cuts down on abrasion, says Allsbrooks.
  • Stretch the legs to prevent shrinkage. “It’s common for jeans to shrink in length” when washed, says Steve Boorstein, author of The Clothing Doctor’s 99 Secrets to Clothing Care (Fashion Media Group, $5, amazon.com). Hold them by the waistband and legs and gently stretch them vertically before drying. Dry on low or medium heat; overdrying causes unnecessary wear and tear, so take jeans out when the legs are done but the seams and the waistband are slightly damp.

 

Hats and Gloves

  • Wash knit hats and gloves like sweaters. Follow the same instructions based on different fabric types. Cotton blends can be machine-washed cold on delicates, wool and cashmere on the delicate cycle with cold water, and so on.
  • Spot-clean structured hats. Newsboy and baseball caps could become misshapen so its best to keep them out of the washing machine.
  • Hand-wash leather-trimmed gloves. You can hand-wash gloves with small sections of leather if the leather is the same color as the knit; otherwise bleeding may be a problem. To dry, insert the handle of a wooden spoon in one finger and set the spoon end in a vase. This will help the glove retain its shape.

 

Down and Polyester Coats

  • Wash adult coats in warm water. You can wash down coats in front-loading machines with a mild powder detergent and warm water on the gentle cycle. (If you have a top-loader, take these coats to a dry cleaner; most top-loaders have agitators that can compress and displace down filling and prevent pieces from tumbling freely.)
  • Use towels for speed drying. Smaller items, like children’s jackets, whether filled with down or polyester, can go in a front- or top-loader on the gentle cycle; tumble dry on low. Put a few clean, dry towels in the dryer to help soak up excess moisture and speed drying.

 
 
Read More About:Laundry

Related Content

Cleaning supplies

How to Clean Almost Anything: An A-to-Z Guide

Your waffle maker is crusty; the knives are rusty. It’s time for an all-around spruce-up. Whether you need shortcuts for the regulars (sinks) or how-tos for the rest (air mattress?), this story spells it all out for you.

What do you think about this article? Share your own solutions and ideas

View Earlier Comments
Advertisement

Quick Tip

Mythic Paint

Home stores and paint shops will often sell, for a fraction of the regular price, cans of paint that customers returned because the color was not quite right for them. Get more tips.