My Laundry Routine

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This seems like such a straight forward process, and in a lot of ways it is, but I have a fairly detailed routine that I go through when laundering my clothes to ensure minimal or zero shrinking and longevity of fabrics.

I wear a mix of clothes from really affordable stores like Old Navy and Target and also get a few special pieces from designers I really love like Rebecca Taylor or Joie. I enjoy getting dressed and treat my clothes with care so they last longer and maintain the best fit for as long as possible.

Let’s start from the top: dirty clothes.

I have a divided laundry organizer that has 3 compartments. One is for lights/whites, the other is for darks, and the last one is for “specials”. I always wash each of these separately.

Up until a few months ago, my husband’s clothes were mixed in with mine, but we shifted our chores and routines a bit and now he does all of his laundry in one basket. No sorting, no specials. . . but hey-that works for him and therefore it works for me!

In general, it takes about two weeks before I really need to wash the clothes in my laundry baskets. It’s usually intimates, socks, and workout clothes that get the most washes!

In general, I re-wear denim a number of times before washing, and a lot of times I can re-wear tops, tanks, and even blouses. I really take time to assess whether or not an item needs to be washed when I remove it at the end of the day. And if there is a spot, perhaps something that got on a top I was wearing while cooking dinner, I will spot clean it first before choosing to completely wash the entire item.

Only washing when actually necessary helps maintain the integrity of the fabrics. This is a pretty comprehensive list of fabrics most clothes are made of, and it includes how to properly launder them as well.

Whites:

I wash most of my whites in cold or warm water, but never “hot”. I use Persil laundry detergent and find that they are clean and bright without the use of hot water. I generally use the “quick wash” function of my machine for whites.

Darks/Athletic clothes:

I wash my darks and athletic clothes in cold water on the “quick clean” cycle.

Specials:

I wash my specials, after sorting by lights/colors/darks on “gentle” in cold water.

After washing, nearly every single thing I washed is hung to dry. From denim to cotton t-shirts, to blouses, it’s hung up. For t-shirts, I do not hang it on the hanger traditionally because I do not want there to be a section pushed out in the shoulder area from the hanger. I’ll fold the shirt in half and let it hang along the bottom straight piece of the hanger.

I hang jeans the same way and will hang any tank top traditionally on the hanger since there isn’t a sleeve or shoulder part that would be pushed out while it dries.

Once my clothes are totally dry, they only require a quick 10-minute toss in the dryer to reduce wrinkles. If it’s a nicer fabric, I’ll opt to steam the wrinkles out instead.

I find that this method maintains the quality of my clothes well since dryers tend to be rough on fabrics.

A few Questions and Answers:

1. What type of washer and dryer do you have? We have a Whirlpool Cabrio that we bought second hand years ago! It’s worked perfectly until about a month ago when we needed to replace the bearing.

2. Do you have a preference for top or front loading machines? I much prefer top loading washing machines because I feel that they can fit so much more clothes. I also find front loaders that I’ve used in different houses to acquire a dingy smell much quicker than a top loader.

3. Do you regularly clean/maintain your washer and how? I don’t, but I think I should.

5. Do you wash your sports bras with darks/athletic wear or specials? I wash all my athletic clothes together with my darks, on cold, and hang a lot of it to dry!

6. Do you remove pads from bras and swimsuits before washing or keep them in the garments? No I never do, but usually something will get lost in the dryer, but it’s easy to put back in place!

7. Do you use anything besides detergent (fabric softener, dryer sheets)? I use dryer sheets when I dry or toss the clothes. Wool dryer balls are also an option for those who are not interested in using a dryer sheet.

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Emily Wakefield says · 06.19.20

Thanks for sharing- I found this super helpful!

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Katharine says · 06.19.20

Long time reader here. Wow. I just can’t believe the blog has come to list. A post about how to wash clothes.

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Kate says · 06.19.20

hi! This site consists of lifestyle content shared in hopes to help, teach, or inspire readers.

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KTuck says · 06.20.20

Is this supposed to be a negative thing? I found this post super helpful! Thanks Kate!

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Lorrie Lethco Bazzi says · 07.04.20

I also found this helpful : ). Thank you!

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Reagan says · 06.20.20

And don’t forget diapers and ways to “cook” by subscribing to HomeChef. Ugh.

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Daniela says · 06.19.20

Here I was putting my whites in hot water :/
Thank you for the tips, Kate!

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Kate says · 06.19.20

Just try cold and see if it gets the job done! You may be surprised!

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Laura says · 06.19.20

Two questions:
1. Is this also how you wash your children’s laundry?
2. How much space does it take up to hang your laundry until dry?

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E says · 06.19.20

I would also love to hear how you wash your kids’ clothes 🙂

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Misty says · 06.19.20

This is a little different blog content, Kate, and I personally love it! Thank you! I obviously over wash my clothes!

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Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says · 06.19.20

Thanks for the tips! Have a great weekend! 🙂

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
http://charmainenyw.com

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Jill says · 06.19.20

Thanks for this helpful post! I also wash in cold 99% of the time and have added the use of mesh zipper laundry bags for all my lingerie and delicate items. I sort them by color and these have helped to prolong the life of those items and even protect delicate blouses and things from snags.

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Kate says · 06.19.20

I must invest in one of those bags for my bra’s and underwear!

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Paula says · 06.19.20

I love the dress in the photo. Could you link it or help me find it?

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Michele says · 06.19.20

PLEEEEEEEASE???

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Memory says · 06.23.20

Same- it’s adorable!

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Jennifer McFadden says · 06.19.20

Hi, I’m new here! I have a similar method of washing my clothes, though I put most of my clothes in the dryer. Sometimes I let delicate items dry for 10 minutes in the dryer with dryer sheets and then hang them up to dry.
Thanks for sharing your tips!

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Julie M. says · 06.19.20

Do you have any tips on choosing to iron versus steam certain fabrics or garments? I’m thinking of buying a steamer but remember feeling unimpressed by a portable one I bought years ago.

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Amy says · 06.19.20

What setting and/or dryer temp (regular, low, etc) do you use on your dryer for the 10 minutes?

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Lee Harrison says · 06.19.20

What’s your favorite steamer?

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Denise says · 06.19.20

I love that dress in the image! Is that yours or a stock image? If yours, where’s it from, please? 🙂

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Kate says · 06.19.20

Sadly it’s a stock image!

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Amanda says · 06.19.20

🚨🚨 🚨 Guys, I have that dress! I got it at TJ Maxx last summer. The tag says “japna.”

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Sherry says · 06.19.20

Just a tip for those who prefer not to use fabric softener (🖐🏼), use vinegar in it’s place and it softens clothes, especially towels and washcloths, will not leave a smell behind, disinfects and can also help colors not transfer. 🙂

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Kate says · 06.19.20

Thank you for sharing that!

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Sherry says · 06.19.20

Of course! 🙂 My mom drowns her towels in fabric softener and I CANNOT stand that perfumey smell – plus they aren’t absorbent and it feels like I’m drying off with slick oils or something. I haven’t noticed a difference with the dryer balls?

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Cathy Yayesaki says · 06.19.20

What kind of hand held steamer do you use?

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Kate says · 06.19.20

It’s linked in the post 🙂 , it’s a travel steamer from amazon. link here: https://rstyle.me/+XVLdr97STN-enx-RCkcY8g

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Pam Webreck says · 06.19.20

Thank you! This was very helpful!

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Terri says · 06.19.20

I am here to defend the front loader! Haha! I feel like it gets a bad wrap, but hear me out – I am short, so if I were to have the same large capacity washer In an top loader, I wouldn’t be able to reach the bottom! I love my front loader – I always leave the door open, I think people forget that they do that on their top loader a lot, and I use vinegar for towels and bleach occasionally on the socks. All that combined it never stinks. Thanks!

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Morgan says · 06.21.20

Oooo this is great! But where is the pretty blue dress in the pic above from? Thanks!!!

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Bryanna says · 06.21.20

As soon as I saw your Instagram story I had to jump on over and see your tips. Thank you so much for sharing! I also really love Persil- it’s fantastic! Ps. your laundry room is dreamy! 🙂

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Lisa says · 06.21.20

I loved this post, thanks Kate! I actually have a separate hamper for all my workout clothes because I don’t like mixing those with say, a regular cotton tshirt. I second another reader who says get the mesh lingerie bags, they are great!

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Hilary says · 06.22.20

Seeing other people’s cleaning routines is strangely fascinating! I’d love to hear how you manage other chores.

We used to go weeks without doing laundry and just washed our own clothes, but we completely flipped when we had a baby. We needed to do small loads frequently to keep up with burp cloths, onesies, etc. Now that we have a toddler, our routine is:

– Laundry twice a week (Tuesday and Friday)
– Tuesday: Put all of our clothes in together as one load (me, husband, and toddler). We wash everything together on warm. We wear all kinds of brands (from Old Navy to J Crew to Madewell) and have never had a problem washing on warm and not separating whites/darks. Pop in dryer, folder, put away.
– Friday: We run multiple loads since it’s the end of the week/weekend and we have more time. 1. All of our clothes 2. All of our towels washed on hot 3. Pre-quarantine, we washed all of our lunch boxes/daycare bags on hot 4. Sheets on hot as needed

I used to think frequent small loads were a waste, but I’m a convert! It’s so much faster to put clothes away, and we pretty much always have the clothes that we want clean. It’s also helpful because we do more of a capsule wardrobe, so we don’t have a ton of pieces in general. We count out how many shorts/tops/etc. our toddler needs based on this schedule, too! AKA she really only needs 4 shirts since we do laundry twice a week.

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Jennifer says · 06.22.20

A couple other tips:
1. I use mesh laundry bags for bras, tights, and other hosiery. Keeps tights from getting tangled and prolongs the life of bras.
2. Cold water for everything.
3. I hang everything to dry with the exception of sheets, towels, and socks. I don’t use hangers but have used a series of drying racks over the years that fold flat for storage.
4. I’ve had front loaders in my last two apartments and keep the doors ajar to avoid generating a musty smell.
5. To get rid of a musty smell, Tide Washing Machine Cleaner works great.
6. I read an article years ago (can’t remember the source) that advised NOT using fabric softener on towels so one does not transfer fabric softener to one’s hair when drying it. Not sure how sound this advice is, but I choose cleaner hair over softer towels.

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Mandy Maple says · 06.23.20

Love hearing your thoughts on laundry! There was a questions about cleaning your machine. I find that if I add a bit of vinegar every few loads, in with my detergent, it helps with smell. Also, I leave the lid open until the washer has dried out.

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Nicole says · 06.26.20

Can you please share how you shifted your chore routine with your husband? It would be so helpful to see what works for another family. I love your lifestyle posts.

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Helene C Stankus says · 07.10.20

Im glad to hear Im not the only one that HATE it when my sleeves at the shoulders get pushed out….Id love to invent a hanger small enough to keep the shoulders in shape while drying and also in closet.. seems your husband does his laundry same as my husband and it works for me as well.
I also do NOT wash my tops, tanks , sweaters as often as I use a “fresh” spray from Laundress. After a day of wear before I hang up, put away I check over the item to make sure a “spot” or anything is not on the item. I so enjoy your blog here. Thanks so much

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Megan says · 09.09.20

I had never cleaned my washing machine until recently when it started making all my clothes smell funky. (Has to google it to find out how!). Run one load without clothes with just hot water and vinegar, then another with hot water and baking soda (both times I did the deep water setting versus energy efficient). I was amazed at the difference, smelled brand new again! Will def repeat!

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Kate says · 09.09.20

Thanks for sharing this!

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Danielle says · 09.09.20

So hanging clothes right after washing doesn’t make them smell due to being wet? I usually throw almost everything in the dryer for a few minutes to loosen them up some and until they’re moreso damp. I found if I hung clothes up with very little to no drying, they would have a wet, almost mildewy smell when they dried. Am I doing something wrong? I’ve played with detergents and everything.

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Kate says · 09.09.20

I use the spin cycle on my washing washing so “spin” almost all the water out of the clothes. That way they are not very wet when I hang them!

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Briana says · 09.11.20

Also, make sure there is space between each wet item. You need air to circulate to dry it. I’ve found that when I hang wet clothes close together, they do take a while to dry and end up smelling. Add some space in there and problem solved! Hope this helps!

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