A pair of jeans prepared for washing

STEP 1: PREP CLOTHES

Learning how to wash clothes in a washing machine starts with laundry basics, like getting clothes washer-ready.

  • Empty pockets, close zippers, fasten hooks and tie strings.

  • Pretreat any stains that may need it. Learn more with this laundry how-to stain removal guide.

  • Turn sweaters inside out to help avoid pilling—the little fuzz balls.

Maytag tip icon

WASH GYM CLOTHES INSIDE OUT

Washing heavily soiled athletic wear inside out will help soapy water reach the inside surface where sweat and odor get trapped.

A hamper filled with laundry sorted by color

STEP 2: SEPARATE LAUNDRY

Another important part of how to wash clothes step by step is learning about the three ways to sort. Sort by color first, then consider fabric type and soil level until you have full loads of similar clothes. Check your item’s tag for any special needs that may affect sorting.

COLOR:

whites, lights, darks

FABRIC TYPE:

denim, cotton, synthetics, blends, delicates, towels and bedding

SOIL LEVEL:

heavily soiled, lightly soiled

Maytag tip icon

SEPARATE LINT-GIVERS FROM LINT-TAKERS

Keep lint off clothes by washing lint-giving fabrics like towels and rugs separately from lint-takers like synthetics, knits and corduroy.

Adding detergent to a Maytag® washing machine

STEP 3: ADD DETERGENT

  • If your washer requires high-efficiency (HE) detergent, check that you’re using HE detergent. Learn more about HE detergent with this quick guide.

  • Pour detergent in the dispenser or, if there isn’t one, directly into the tub. Follow the instructions on the packaging when measuring.

  • If using a detergent pod, place it in the bottom of the tub.

Swash™ detergent bottle in a laundry cabinet

The Smart Way to Wash

Swash® Laundry Detergent, recommended by Maytag brand1, features a Precision Pour Cap that dispenses the detergent for you, so you only pour what you need. Use one squeeze for regular loads and two for large loads.

Clothes inside a Maytag® top load washer

STEP 4: LOAD WASHER

  • Load items into the washer loosely and evenly around the tub, giving them room to move.

  • When washing bulky single items like a rug or jacket, add a few extra items around the tub to balance the weight.  

Closeup of a washing machine cycle dial

STEP 5: SELECT WASH SETTINGS

SELECT CYCLE, TEMPERATURE, SPIN SPEED AND EXTRAS
  • Select a cycle that matches your load. You may select a different wash temperature based on the soil level and type of fabric being washed. If you don’t know which cycle to use, see this Laundry Cycle Guide to find out. 

  • Use low spin speeds for delicates and high spin speeds for sturdier fabrics.

  • Select add-ons like steam or a longer soak for loads needing extra cleaning. On select Maytag® front load washers, add the Fresh Hold® option to intermittently tumble the load after the cycle ends.

Maytag® top load washer and dryer in a laundry room

STEP 6: GET READY TO DRY

  • Start transferring clothes to the dryer as soon as possible.

  • As you load, leave out stained items and anything that recommends air drying on the tag.

  • Clean the dryer’s lint screen by rolling lint off with your fingers. Do not use water to remove lint.

Maytag® dryer tumbling blue clothes

STEP 7: SELECT DRY SETTINGS

SELECT TEMPERATURE
  • Low: casuals, delicates, synthetics, lightweight fabrics, shirts, pants, athletic wear

  • Medium: work clothes, medium weight fabrics, sheets

  • High: jeans, heavy fabrics, towels

SELECT TIME
  • Pick a specific dry time or a sensor setting that automatically stops the cycle when the load is done, like Advanced Moisture Sensing by Maytag.

FINISHING THE JOB

Now that you know the answer to “how do you do laundry”, finish the job by finding a clean, flat surface for folding. Creating a designated space for folding helps clothes stay clean by keeping them off the floor or the tops of your washer and dryer. Folding clothes correctly is an easy skill to learn that pays off big. Learn some shirt and pant folding techniques with this folding guide.

More Laundry How-To Guides

Decode the symbols on your clothing care tag to learn what they really mean.

Get tips on stain removal — from red wine to blood and ink, Maytag’s here to help.

Learn the ins and outs of using HE detergent in your washing machine.

WAS THIS ARTICLE HELPFUL? PASS IT ON

  1. Swash and the recommending brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.