Laundry 101


Check all pockets before washing and unroll sleeves, pant legs and socks. Separate your laundry into at least three piles: whites, mediums, and darks. Whites require bleach and dark colors tend to run or bleed because of the heavy dyes in the clothing. Separate delicates such as silk blouses, underwear, or clothing with decorative items. Items you want to protect from fading should be turned inside out.

Pre-treating and Stains

Pre-treat stains. You can use laundry detergent as a pre-treatment. Simply pour it directly on the fabric and rub gently. Place the item in the wash with the rest of the articles and add more detergent. You may have to wash the item twice to remove all of the stains. More information on stain removal is available on our Stain Removal Tips page. Use chlorine bleach on whites only (not even khaki - it turns peach!), and add the bleach after the clothing is wet. Most machines require only ¼ cup detergent and ¾-1 cup of bleach.


Water Temperature

  • For dark clothes, use cold water. If you have a shirt with dark and light colors, add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. The vinegar will minimize color bleeding.
  • Use hot water for whites because they tend to gray after many washings, and chlorine bleach works best with hot water. Adding a cup of vinegar to the wash also brightens whites and colors and works as a scent-free fabric softener.
  • Most medium clothes and delicate clothing can be washed in warm water. Always check the labels on your clothes for washing instructions.

Other Tips

  • Fabric softener may be added if desired; front load washers have a special compartment for fabric softener to be added when laundry is loaded, but top-load washers must have the fabric softener added to the load during the rinse cycle or using a fabric softener ball (which you may borrow from a Clothesline attendant).
  • Always clean the dryer lint tray prior to drying a load of clothes to ensure your dryer will be functioning as effectively as possible.
  • Always fold your clothes as soon as possible when removing from the dryer to prevent wrinkling.
  • Thin or delicate items should be dried on medium or low heat instead of high heat.
  • If drying a down coat or comforter, add tennis balls to "beat" the feathers loose. Ask the attendant if you would like to borrow some.
  • If drying a large blanket, comforter or sleeping bag, it is important that there is enough room in the washer (always use a front-load machine!) for water and detergent to circulate well, and in the dryer for the items to tumble loosely. Ask the attendant for guidance if you are not certain which are the appropriate machines for your loads.