Tips & Tricks For Sorting Laundry

by Taylor

Sorting laundry isn't always the most fun thing to do in the world, but it really is something we need to do.

Yes, we can just throw everything in the washer together, but it often results in some ruined clothing, or at least dingy clothes and whites that are no longer white, but perhaps pink instead!

It can be a big pain to separate clothes though, and not always convenient.

I cannot promise that the tips below, shared by readers, will completely fix your problems, but what these ideas do show are simple but effective ways to make the process of sorting more simple, and to address laundry issues that come up because of a lack of separation.

In addition to these tips you can check out my article on how to sort clothes for the wash, for even more ideas and instructions.

Plus, I'd love to hear from you as well if you've got tips and tricks to share. You can share how you sort clothes here and I'll add them to the page.

So, without further ado, below are the ideas and suggestions that have already been submitted.

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Laundry Tip: Have Separate Hamper For Stained Clothes

by Anna

Anna read a tip on the site from another reader about having a separate laundry hamper for stained clothes, to more easily remember to pretreat them and make sure the stains come out in the wash before putting them in the dryer.

You can read that tip here.

Anna has taken the tip, and expanded it even further.

Anna says:

Since I do at least 7 loads of wash each week and deal with many stains I have taken your tip a step farther and set up a separate hamper for stained white and light colored clothes, as well as a separate one for dark colored.

I also use separate hampers for regular (nonstained) whites and light colors, as well as dark colored clothes.

This really helps with the process of sorting, and making sure I check the stained clothes before I put them in the dryer.

In addition, having the stained clothes presorted helps me remember to add nonchlorine bleach to the load.

Taylor says:

Thanks so much for sharing this tip and idea Anna.

I know it sounds like a bit more trouble to set up this sorting process at the beginning, but I can see how it would really save time and energy over the long term.

Does anyone else have any tips and tricks for laundry they'd like to share? You can share your own tips here or read others that have already been submitted.

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How I Get My Kids To Do Laundry Chores & Put Dirty Clothes In Hampers

by Regina

Laundry scenario trying to be avoided

Laundry scenario trying to be avoided

Regina says:

Once your kids are old enough set the rule that they either hang up their clothes or put them in the dirty clothes hamper.

Clothes left on the floor, chair, etc. don't get washed even if you know they are dirty.

I found that this approach was a quick habit breaker since they found themselves without the particular clean clothes they were seeking at a later date.

I even took it a step further to have them put clothes that they knew would require pretreatment for stains in a separate hamper labeled "Shout".

This process has worked out really well for me.

And yes, I truly depend on Shout for handling the messes my family gets into. I use the Gel in the squeeze bottle with the brush as well as the spray.

***Update: A reader, Mary, responded to Regina's ideas. This is what she shared:

Mary says:

This photo sure looks familiar.

This an excellent tip that I will soon be trying.

Once my kids run short of clean clothes they are bound to get the message.

I also like the Shout pretreater for small stains, but for heavily soiled/stained clothes I prefer presoaking with Oxi Clean powder.

In any event it would be nice to have the stained clothes already separated, and in my situation it will be the hamper with the most clothes!

Photo courtesy of nikkigomez

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No Dry Vs. Dry Laundry Sorting Tip

by Jen
(Momence, IL)

Jen says:

This is a simple tip and easy to do.

As we are not tall but have long limbs, finding clothes that fit is not always easy. When we do, legs or sleeves shrinking is the last thing we want.

In our house we sort the no dry items into separate baskets, one for light colors one for dark, while still having regular (dry) light and dark baskets.

We also separate the bras to be done on a gentle cycle (recommend an extra or medium spin if an option on your washer, to remove extra water).

This also makes it easy for whoever is doing the laundry that day to grab a load and know they don't have to worry about what does or does not go in the dryer.

Taylor says:

Thanks so much for this tip Jen!

This just goes to show that a little thought in setting up your sorting process can really simplify the laundry process, and make it possible for more people to help wash clothes in your household.

I would love to hear even more tips for clothes sorting. If you've got any (or really any laundry tips) please share your suggestions and ideas here, and I'll add them to the site.

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Related Links At Stain Removal 101

Laundry Tips & Tricks For Busy Moms

Stain Removal Tips & Ideas You Can Use

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Comments for No Dry Vs. Dry Laundry Sorting Tip

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how I keep up with laundry
by: Beth

I just recently started this: both of my children (ages 6 & 8) have their own basket, when it is full I wash and dry it, then anything that is right side out I will fold, anything inside out becomes their responsibility along with all of their socks. They are also responsible for putting them away, although I help with hanging items. This has helped me to keep up with laundry instead of having to sort before and after washing.

doing each family members on different day would help with sorting
by: Deanna

I like the one where each family member has their own wash day. That would help me with sorting everyone's stuff out.

sort, don't rely on color catchers
by: Robert

Sort your laundry. Color catchers are novelty items only successfully sold as a staple for the chore of doing laundry because most consumers aren't aware of the immutable laws of physical and chemical science. Sorting doesn't take long and works better and more consistently than any product I've seen, tried, or heard of.

saves so much time to sort as go
by: Gabrielle

I have 3 hampers...colors, whites and towels. When we put stuff in the hamper, it is already sorted. That makes it easy for me to see at a glance if I need to start a load. This has saved me so much time.

how I do it
by: Cynthia

I separate into the following piles (they are separated if need be by colors) jeans, pjs/socks/underwear/gloves, shirts, blankets, towels, sweaters/jackets, sheets. I only wash one day a week.

my method
by: Amy

I separate the pants and things with zippers, then darks, lights, diapers and towels/linens are all separate. It's easier than it sounds. My loads are smaller and more manageable that way. I hate having to fold huge piles. I'd rather do many small loads than a few huge ones.

my method
by: Rebecca

I sort by color, weight and hanging vs folded. I like to either hang or fold the whole load.

how I do it
by: Edel

I sort by colour; towels and sheets are separate. As is anything delicate.

what I do
by: Pauline

Every one has their own hamper when theirs is full I wash them. I do wash jean separate and new clothes that may bleed. Every once in awhile I do socks separate to wash in hot bleach water. Towels and sheets are always separate. Makes doing laundry so much easier than sorting everything and easier to stay on top of it. Took me a while to be ok with doing this because I was taught to always sort.

we generate a lot of laundry
by: Ann

I've got 4 kids, plus my hubby & my clothes. I need to sort. The kids have super sensitive skin, so while I do sort, I have to keep my hubby's stuff like jeans, & casual wear separated from theirs. I have baskets for kids clothes, mine, hubby's work stuff, his 'casual' stuff, socks/tee shirts for bleaching, whites, towels, sheets, reds, & darks. It seems like a lot, but it's much easier for me to see which loads need to be done before others. It also helps that I have 2 washers & 2 dryers. Even w/both of them, they generate A LOT of laundry.

I love laundry
by: Zora

Kid has her own hamper. Hubs work clothes has a hamper. Everything else goes in bathroom hamper. Icky stuff goes directly to basement. I do laundry once a week. Only three of us here. Thank goodness for the basement where the machines are located. I do the sorting there. I have a huge line across the basement to hang dry most stuff. Hubs is not allowed to touch my washer/dryer just as I am not allowed to touch his yard equipment. Works for me. If I have something new, I throw a color catcher in and determine how much it bleeds and go from there. I am the crazy person who loves laundry and vets high off the smell of fabric softener!

we sort, by person
by: Melissa

I guess we do sort by person, makes putting it away easier if a whole load is going to the same place when it's done.

what I do with five kids
by: Tammy

I have one basket per kid (we have five 6 and under) my hubby has a basket and I usually will separate his into lights and darks, then mine, towels, and linens. Mine and the kids are almost always washed on delicate cycle.

less sorting now, better things to do
by: Stephanie

I sort out towels, whites and then everything else. Towels get hot water, whites get hot water, bleach and an extra rinse. Everything else can be washed together on cold. Unless it's something new and I'm afraid of bleeding.

I used to sort like a mad woman, towels, whites, jeans, reds/pinks, lights, darks that couldn't be washed with jeans because it was afraid of zipper snags. It was. Nightmare and way too exhausting. I have better things I could be doing with my kids.

pet peeve - washing towels with clothes
by: Suzanne

Darks, Mediums, Towels....nothing ever seems to qualify as Lights around here. My pet peeve is when a towel gets washed with frustrating, LINT! It ruins clothes. And I can't stand my whites dingy.

sort by person, not by color
by: Carley

I don't sort by colors, but by person. I do my boys together, baby stuff, mine, my husband's, towels/linens. Each person has a day. When I fold I only have to put away in one room. Eventually boys will do their own on their own day.

My 10 ways I sort my laundry/washing
by: Roberta

Maybe I am a little OCD on the laundry sorting. I use three, three compartment laundry dividers. I line them all up on one wall of my unfinished laundry area. I also have a basket for the dog's stuff. I have a double rod on wheels on the same wall. These are my 10 load categories:

1. Skip's dress shirts
2. Dress pants and sports shirts
3. Bras
4. Underwear
5. Cleaning rags
6. Bobbi's decent casual clothes
7. Sheets
8. Yard and chore clothes
9. Towels
10. Dog bedding

There are no areas for personal baskets for clean clothes. I fold everything and put it away as soon as it is out of the dryer. Works for me!

over organizing took too long for me
by: Janice

I just take the five minutes to sort before I wash, then wash, dry, fold/hang right out of dryer, and put the clothes away. We have a hamper for kids, one for grown-ups, and one for towels. Sheets come off bed, get washed, get dried, and put right back on beds. I've tried the 'over-organizing' with laundry and it took longer and was way more frustrating for me!! More power to the people who can do it!!

special basket for sports clothes is essential
by: Amie

I have the baskets for towels, darks, lights, reds, delicates, and then a special basket for sports clothes (baseball pants, jerseys, etc). Keeping a special basket for sports clothes is essential so that all items are washed in time for practices and games!

dump items right in top loader washer
by: Sabrina

I have a top load washer... and I don't sort. If we own it, it can get washed together. When we change out of our clothes, or get out of shower or whatever... we put dirty items right into the washer. When it's full, I add detergent and turn that sucker on. Bam, done! I don't worry about my towel getting washed with my jeans. I don't worry about maintaining clean vs. dirty baskets. I don't worry about it. When dryer is done, I fold items right out of the dryer and my kids put them away. And even though I don't sort, don't have separate baskets, etc... guess what? My clothes are still clean, not faded & my whites are white, not pink The Hubs works, I work, I have two kids. They play two sports each, take music lessons, drama club, etc and it all seems to get done. No fuss, no muss. And I certainly don't do 2-5 loads per day. No thank you!

Getting kids to put clothes in the hamper
by: Laura

Getting my kids in the habit of putting their dirty clothes in the hamper took awhile. One thing I did from the beginning was to place a hamper/tall laundry basket in each of their rooms. That was a good start.

They continued to just drop their dirty clothes on the floor, and I would point out how the hamper was just a few feet away and remind them that I had given them their very own hamper to make it as easy as possible. It took several years before it became a habit. But now that they're teenagers, it has become an established habit.

It's worth it, because now I have them bring their hamper baskets down to the laundry area when I'm ready to do the wash. Then we turn everything right side out and sort it together. Since it's a parent's responsibility to teach our kids how to do laundry as a basic survival skill, this kills 2 birds with one stone.

After we finish sorting, they take the empty hamper basket up and put it back in their rooms.

Don't give up hope. This takes sometime and repeated reminders every time you find dirty clothes left on the floor. It does eventually stick :)

chores and laundry
by: Carol

I am picky about laundry, but when my daughter was about 13 or 14 she made the comment why this top or pair of jeans not washed. She did it a couple times, so from then on she did her own laundry!!! I did hers if there was some in the laundry basket, but she was responsible for herself!!!! She's now 20 & on her own. She tells me she was glad I taught her responsibilities!!!

Sort and Have The Right Supplies On Hand To Do it Right
by: Anonymous

I also use separate hampers based on color and water temperature, though most of the wash can be done with warm water. When it comes to stains my rule of thumb is to presoak, so I have a presoak hamper for white and light colors and one for dark colors. When I do a presoak I adjust the time depending on how dirty and how heavily stained the clothes may be. For laundering jeans I generally soak them for 1 hour, (we all wear dark colored jeans) more if there are really bad stains, like grass. Of course the kids play clothes are a no brainer, they all go in the presoak bins!

My other concern is always having several laundry products on hand, i.e. an enzyme detergent, a pretreater such as Shout, and a nonchlorine bleach like Oxi Clean or BIZ for presoaking.

check the pockets!
by: Anonymous

Anytime I sort laundry I check each pocket for Kleenex and earrings. It makes life easier when you don't have to pick off tiny shreds of Kleenex.

Separate Hampers, Pretreaters, & Placement of Stained Clothes
by: Kathy

Separate hampers is best and when it comes to kids and stains they are usually on their shirts. I have them turn them inside out before dropping them in the hamper so it gives me a heads up they need to be pretreated or presoaked. I also have a pre treater like Shout by each hamper that can be left on for several days. Sometimes they use it, other times not, but at least if the garment is tied or is inside out I know it has a stain. If something gets through the wash and the dryer and a stain is set I use Shout Advanced Gel on it.

For sports uniforms or my white work uniforms they always have stains and require separate presoaking and washing. I soak with Oxi Clean or Biz but if I run out of either of these products I will soak in Tide Powder. These items go into soak buckets as soon as possible and are not placed in any of the hampers. Special laundry problems are best kept separate from the rest of the laundry.

Sweaters and other gentle care items are washed separately using the gentle cycle, usually in cold water, and air dried. A short soak is a good idea for these garments even if there are no stains.

how I sort
by: Donna Marie

I sort the laundry in three laundry baskets: Dark Yuckys (what we wear everyday to work in), Whites and Good Clothes. It is so simple. I have a small tub that says laundry that needs attention; anything that is stained goes in there. That covers everything!!!

If a shirt has white and a color stripe for instance do you wash it with the light-colored clothing or the darker clothing?
by: Donna

How do you wash clothes that have some color and some white in them?

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