The Official Do’s and Don’ts of Washing Your Clothes
In today’s laundry-for-dummies guide, we decode those mysterious clothing labels, help you protect your delicates, explain how to speed up the drying process, and more!
Image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
Decoding the symbols on clothing labels can feel a lot like taking a test—one that you definitely don’t want to fail. Here’s what you need to know to pass with flying colors:
1. The machine wash symbol refers to the temperature that should be used to wash the item. If the symbol contains one dot, you wash in cold, two dots, you wash in warm, and three dots, you wash in hot. If there is an X over the symbol, head to your nearest dry cleaners.
2. The bleach symbol refers to whether or not you should use chlorine bleach. If it’s a plain white triangle, proceed with caution, if there is an X over it, then steer clear!
3. The tumble dry symbol refers to drying methods. A white circle indicates you can use any heat, one dot means use a low temperature, two dots, normal temperature, and three dots means high temperature.
4. The dry clean symbol indicates just that: whether or not you need to dry clean the piece. If you see a big X, that's your cue to use the washing machine.
1. Color-safe bleach works on all colors and helps removes stains. (Note: this does not disinfect your clothing like chlorine bleach.)
2. Chlorine bleach helps brighten whites. You should never use on color fabrics! If your machine does not have a bleach dispenser, make sure to dilute the bleach with water first before putting it on your clothes.
3. Fabric softener is a conditioner that keeps towels soft and fluffy and prevents static cling.
1. Regular or “normal” combines fast agitation with a fast spin cycle and is good for heavily-stained items, cottons, linen, denim, towels, and bedding.
2. Permanent Press combines fast agitation with a slow spin and is good for synthetic fibers (knits and polyesters) and prevents wrinkling.
3. Delicate cycle combines slow agitation with a slow spin and is good for washable silks and wools, garments with embellishments, lingerie, and sheer fabrics.
1. Regular (High Heat) setting is good for whites, jeans, towels, sheets, linens, and items that are pre-shrunk. Do not use this setting with clothing washed in hot water.
2. Permanent Press (Medium Heat) setting prevents colored garments from fading and ensures your clothes do not wrinkle or lose their shape. Do not use this setting for delicates because they will lose their shape.
3. Delicate (Low Heat) setting uses a slower speed to gently dry fragile clothing and is good for knits and frail fabrics.
1. Throw a clean dry towel in the dryer with wet clothes. The towel will help absorb the moisture, allowing the clothing to dry much quicker. If you prefer to flat
2. If clothes are dry, but wrinkled—a case of “you left them sitting in the dryer too long”—toss in a clean, damp towel and turn on the dryer for 15 minute intervals into wrinkles are gone.