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Wash right: The complete guide to doing laundry

When you can no longer avoid washing your clothes, the key is to use the right detergent, technique, and temperature. Because washing in the wrong way is one of the biggest reasons why garments lose their beauty. 

Step 1: Sorting colors properly

Never trust people who claim it is unnecessary to sort your laundry by color (who knows what else they could be wrong about?) Sorting your laundry is a must to prevent discoloration, and to ensure that your garments get to live out their full potential.

We recommend five piles:

  • One for dark textiles (navy, blacks, browns and similar)
  • One for light-colored textiles (beige, light grey and other muted tones)
  • A separate one for white textiles
  • One with delicate items (they should also be washed in a laundry bag)
  • A separate pile for red and pink clothes, as their color can darken in an unflattering way when washed with dark colors

Always store your dirty laundry in a breathable laundry bag, that lets air flow through. Otherwise, you are at risk of inviting funky smells and mildew.

A laundry hamper filled with clothes

Step 2: Choosing the right laundry detergent

Using a fitting detergent for your clothes is important. Using the wrong detergent can actually destroy your garments, especially if they are made of delicate fibers like silk or wool. Remember to never overdose, using too much detergent will not make your clothes cleaner.

We recommend using a minimum of three laundry detergents:

  • One for colored fabrics
  • One for white fabrics
  • One for delicate fabrics

Your clothes will benefit from using a laundry detergent customized for the type of fabric you are washing. Research has come a long way, and specialized detergents now contain different combinations of enzymes and surfactants – the active ingredients that will make your laundry clean and fresh.

Step 3: Choosing the right laundry program

Washing wool and silk

Silk and wool are made from animal protein and must be washed with a gentle laundry detergent that is kind to delicate fabrics. A regular detergent will destroy the fibers, and after as little as two washes your garments may be full of small holes.

Our Delicate Laundry Detergent contains lanolin that rehydrates the fibers in any type of natural material and prolongs their lifespan. When washing wool, wool blends, or silk clothes, always choose the wool program. This is a gentle program with a short spin cycle that is suitable for delicate clothes. If possible, use a laundry bag to protect the clothes.

Washing activewear

Your gym clothes or other activewear are most certainly made of some synthetic blend fabric. They must be washed in low temperatures (max 30ºC), but even then the funky smells may linger.

Use our Odor Control Laundry Detergent, developed to target the bacteria that cause odors. For clothes that reek of a pungent smell (when you accidentally left your used gym outfit in the bag until the next workout session) we recommend you let the clothes soak at least an hour in water and Odor Control Laundry Detergent before washing.

Steamery's Odor Control Laundry Detergent in a gym setting

Choose a short program and spin cycle (maximum 30ºC) to save water and energy. Remember gym clothes rarely get dirty – just sweaty. Our Odor Control Detergent is also great for washing cotton textiles; towels, bed linen, and all your garments made of cotton.

Washing down jackets

Down jackets must not be washed too often, since frequent washing will cause the down to lose its fluffiness. Instead, make a habit of hanging it outdoors and let it air and spray it with some Fabric Spray once in a while, and when you need to wash it, use a delicate laundry detergent. Standard detergents with harsh enzymes will dissolve the natural oils and the jacket will lose some of its insulation abilities.

Rinse out all detergent residues thoroughly (we recommend an extra rinsing cycle) and tumble dry, inside out, at a low temperature. Add three or more clean tennis balls to the tumble dryer and let the program run until your jacket has dried completely. Pause to shake the jacket once in a while, you want the down to spread evenly throughout the garment. The jacket is done and ready to be worn when it’s completely dry and smells fresh.

Washing everyday cotton

Cotton can withstand higher temperatures. However, colors will fade if you constantly wash your clothes at 60ºC, so make 30ºC–40ºC your standard option for colored textiles. Crisp, white 100% cotton garments can often be washed at 60ºC, this will actually prevent them from becoming grey-ish. Choose our Dark & Denim Laundry Detergent for black, navy, or brown clothes, and our All Colors Laundry Detergent for any colored textiles. To help your white textiles stay white over time, wash them with our White Laundry Detergent.

How to hand wash

Machine washing is a harsh clothing care process. It is not only the fact that clothes are soaked in water and later on dried that has an impact on clothing appearance. The vigorous movements manipulate fibers, seams, and hems which may result in damage. When hand washing, you have total control of the items being washed and can adjust your method using your hands. For example, when removing stains, you can focus only on the stained area if the rest of the garment is clean.

All items you personally define as delicate items (clothes that are dear to you) will last longer if being hand washed. However, the easiest way to define if clothes should be hand washed or not you will find on the care label. Normally washable high fashion items, delicate silk, wool, cashmere, and merino wool (especially fine knits) meet the qualification for hand washing. Read more about hand washing here.

Loading sweaters into a washing machine

How to pick the right temperature

The general rule is to always wash in as cold water as possible. A modern laundry detergent contains a mix of enzymes and surfactants that will make your laundry clean even at 30ºC.

30ºC: For all clothes and fabrics that are not heavily soiled, sports clothes, clothes made of synthetic blends, and all delicate items. Make this your standard option. 40ºC: Heavily stained clothes made of cotton. 60ºC: Kitchen towels, bed linen, white sheets, and towels.

These are just general guidelines. Always glance at the care label to learn the specific instructions for the garments you are washing.

Caring drying techniques

There are many ways to dry your laundry. Below are some of the most common methods.

Air dry

Most garments will last longer and keep their shape if you let them slowly dry on a drying rack or on a hanger. Make sure to straighten hems and creases as much as possible, this will save you time for when you want to steam the dry clothes.

Tumble dry

Tumble drying is not only bad from an energy consumption perspective. The tumble dryer can also shrink your clothes and harm the fibers. The only time tumble drying is needed is when you’re drying down jackets, cushions or blankets. It’s also convenient to tumble dry bed linen, sheets and towels since their size makes hang-drying more impractical. But note that everything you tumble dry will age prematurely. And if you do tumble dry, consider using Tumble Dryer Balls to shorten the drying time.

Flat dry

We recommend drying your knitted garments on a flat surface. However, if you can spin-dry wool garments after washing in a machine on a gentle wool program or by hand on a short 800 RPM cycle. The spin cycle will remove all excess water and you can safely hang-dry your knits without them losing their shape. You can also flat dry your wool clothes on a towel or flat on top of a drying rack, but be sure to use a towel as a base to prevent creasing, and remember to flip the garment occasionally.

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