Written by Meghan Salgado
Generally, guys have two laundry piles: the casual clothes that can be washed at home, and work clothing that needs to be professionally cleaned. However, the same can’t be said for the women in your life. Whether it’s a girlfriend, spouse, or some other female live-in (hey, we don’t judge!) things get a little more complicated when her clothing gets thrown in the mix. Check out our guide to make sure you’re treating her clothes with care.
Pile it up
Laundry should be separated into 4 categories that are based on colors and similar washing requirements: whites, lights, darks, and delicates. More likely than not, these items will have similar instructions on their little white label, and grouping similar colors means that nothing will bleed into each other in the washer.
- Wash in the warmest water setting allowed
- If an all-white (no colored patterns) load, you can use a powder with bleach to brighten the fabric
- These are her pastel and soft shaded clothing
- Wash in a warm water setting, and keep items away from anything that may bleed in the wash and dye the other clothing
- More durable than her whites or brights, darks are any piece of clothing that is highly pigmented
- Wash clothing on cold water setting to maintain vibrancy
- Be mindful of wear and tear within the washing machine, and turn items with zippers inside out
- Undergarments and certain knit fabrics (such as lightweight wools, silks, or cotton jersey) will generally fall under the delicate label
- These items may need to be hand washed, or washed separately in an extremely small load
Read the label
That little white tag on her top, jeans, or bra will tell you everything you need to know when it comes to washing with care. However, without any explanation they may seem more like hieroglyphics than at all helpful. However, taking the time to break it down will ensure you don’t ruin her favorite garment forever.
The washing symbol indicates the temperature you should wash your clothing on. The more little dots within the basin, the higher temperature the garment can be washed at. One dot indicates about 30℃ (or your cold setting), while six dots indicates 95℃, a setting used exclusively for white linens. If there is a hand or an “X” through the basin, it means the item is most likely a delicate and should be hand washed or dry-cleaned.
Gentlemen be warned. The quickest way to ruin your girlfriend or spouse’s favorite shirt is by using a bleach that isn’t meant for that type of garment. The triangle on the label will tell you what is and is not appropriate bleach-wise for each item. An empty triangle means there are no restriction, three stripes within the triangle mans that non-chlorine bleach is the only type you should use, and a filled in triangle with an “X” means that no bleach should be used on this garment. While bleach can be great for getting clothes extra clean and brightening up whites and colors, it can also be disastrous if something bleach-adverse sneaks into your load.
The symbol made up of a circle within a square indicates whether or not a piece of clothing can go into the dryer. Heat causes different fabrics to quickly shrink up, and your girlfriend definitely won’t be thrilled if you turn all her cotton shirts into baby tees. In addition to the general shape of this symbol, there will be dots, lines, and that all important “X” to give you more information. A range of dots tells you how warm of a cycle you should be trying the garment in. A single below the square indicates you should use the permanent press setting, and two lines is for the delicate setting. Finally, the big “X” means the item should stay out of the dryer and instead be line dried. For the most part, thinner fabrics should be kept out of the dryer to maintain the integrity of the garment.
Ironing and Dry Cleaning
If you’re really going for the (laundry) gold, finish up this chore with a round of ironing or running special garments to the dry cleaners. The symbol that looks like well, an iron, will tell how much heat you should use on the garment to get out those little wrinkles. The plain circle indicates whether or not an article is meant to be dry cleaned. A “P” means dry clean only, while an “F” means dry clean preferred. Make sure these items are put off to the side and don’t accidentally make it into a load. More likely than not, they’ll be much more expensive to replace than a bleached t-shirt.
Keep it clean
If you’re anything like us, you grab two of those prepackaged pods of detergent, toss them into your washing machine, and forget about it for 60 minutes (or more). But after you’ve spent all this time sorting her clothes and reading the label, why wouldn’t you pick the detergent that’s going to do the most for that load of clothes? Look out for formulas made specifically for delicates or bringing colors back to life, and use them accordingly.
With these rules in mind, your next load of laundry should be a breeze. Just make sure to keep you eye out of any stray red socks that may sneak into your load of whites.