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Simple & Flexible Tips for Staying in Control of Your Laundry Routine

Simple & Flexible Tips for Staying on Top of your Laundry Routine

The holidays are an easy time for the laundry routine to get out of control. But don't fret, it's a new year and you can quickly tackle that laundry mountain without getting overwhelmed.

Sorting the laundry

1. Sort all of your dirty laundry (see explanation below) only once every one to two weeks, depending on how many people are in your household or family. Then wash and dry one load every one to two days. Sorting everything at once will make it more likely that you'll wash full loads instead of partial loads, but don't over-stuff your machine either.

2. Don't wash the next load of laundry until the previous one has been folded and put away. Of course, just putting your child's clothing unfolded in a laundry basket in their room is fine too, unless they're too young to fold their own laundry and put it away.

3. Remember that your laundry routine is yours. It is largely determined by the types of clothes you and your family wear, and by home many people are in your household. What works for one family may not work for another family.

4. Clean your washing machine once a month, or at the very least once every season. Grime or mold in your washing machine can end up in your clothes. Follow the instructions provided in your washing machine's user manual.

To Sort or Not to Sort?

The point of sorting laundry is two-fold: (1) to prevent or reduce the chances of ruining the clothes during the washing process, and (2) to end up with clean and sanitized clothing and linens. If you don't care about this, then by all means, don't bother sorting.

In the book Laundry: The Home Comforts Book of Caring and for Clothes & Linens, author Cheryl Mendelson discusses "gathering, storing and sorting laundry" in the first chapter, with the bulk of the chapter being devoted to sorting the laundry. She asserts that today's youth do not believe they can figure out how to sort laundry, but succinctly makes the statement, "But they are wrong." I must say that I agree with her.

Her "Rules of Sorting" are as follows:

1. Sort according to the appropriate wash cycle based on fiber and fabric type (regular machine-washing, permanent-press, gentle & delicates, or hand-washing).
2. Sort by colour (white & mostly white, light & medium & brights, dark & black).
3. Sort by level or kind of soil.
4. Sort according to whether some clothes will cause other clothes to pick up lint, snag, tear, and so on; and finally,
5. Make sorting compromises, as necessary and safe, to create a reasonable number of good-sized loads.

In my own laundry sorting, I sort by washing temperature as well. I prefer to wash some items in hot water, like underwear, towels, bed sheets and kitchen linens in order to kill harmful bacteria. Lisa Ackerley, a leading hygiene expert in the UK, is warning consumers that washing laundry at 30°C is not hot enough to kill bacteria on fabrics, asserting that your "clean" clothes could make people ill. Would you wash your dishes with cold water after you just finished preparing chicken? There is a reason your dishwasher is hooked up to the hot water pipe only. And yes, your washing machine is hooked up to both hot and cold water. You need both. By all means, wash your regular colours, jeans, delicates and wool items in cold water.

Take pride in doing your laundry.

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