How to Do Laundry Step by Step
With so many ways to do laundry, it can feel like an overwhelming chore. Understanding how your washer works, including the different settings, temperatures, fabrics and colors may seem like an intimidating task, but you can use this guide to master the steps to do laundry and learn a few tricks along the way. Whether you’re a beginner or a laundry veteran, this guide will help you through the specific steps to properly wash your clothes in a washing machine, ensuring that nothing gets damaged in the process.
How to do Laundry in 7 Easy Steps
Before you begin doing laundry, take a look around your laundry room to make sure you have all the necessary supplies.
Stain remover (optional)
Fabric softener (optional)
Dryer sheets or dryer balls (optional)
Step 1: Read the Labels and 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.
Check clothing labels for washing instructions like heat levels, cleaning solvents and approved washing methods. Never wash a garment without checking the label.
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.
How to Wash Gym Clothes
Washing heavily soiled athletic wear inside out will help soapy water reach the inside surface where sweat and odor get trapped.
Step 2: Separate Laundry by Color, Fabric Type, and Level of Soil
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. Some materials, such as jeans or denim jackets have different washing instructions.
Whites, lights or darks
Denim, cotton, synthetics, blends, delicates, towels and bedding
Heavily soiled or lightly soiled
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.
Step 3: Add Detergent
All-purpose detergent comes in powder, liquid or pod form and can be used on many types of fabrics. Liquid detergent is recommended for use as a pre-treatment.
Before placing dirty laundry in the washer, pretreat challenging stains with stain treatment approved by the item’s laundry tag.
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.
The Smart Way to Wash
Swash® Laundry Detergent, recommended by Maytag brand, 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.
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, jacket, or down comforter, add a few extra items around the tub to balance the weight.
Step 5: Select Wash Settings
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. Note that different washing machine cycles will change how long it takes to complete a load of laundry. If you don’t know which cycle to use, see this Laundry Cycle Guide.
Use low spin speeds for delicates and high spin speeds for sturdier fabrics. For more information about your machine’s settings, see Washing Machine Settings Explained. Find out what to do if your washer is shaking during the spin cycle.
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.
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.
Clean the dryer’s lint screen by rolling lint off with your fingers. Do not use water to remove lint. Make sure to regularly deep clean your dryer’s lint trap.
Step 7: Select Dry Settings
Low: casuals, delicates, synthetics, lightweight fabrics, shirts, pants or athletic wear
Medium: work clothes, medium weight fabrics or sheets
High: jeans, heavy fabrics or towels
- 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.
COMMON LAUNDRY concerns
How to Brighten White Clothes
To brighten white clothes that have become dark and dingy over time, it is recommended to use the prewash and/or presoak option on your washing machine with an oxygen-based bleach. Be sure to wash using the warmest water allowed for your garments per the instructions on the care tags. If your machine does not have a presoak setting, soak your garments in a mix of warm water and oxygen-based bleach for a few hours.
How to Prevent Clothes from Fading
You can keep your clothes looking fresh and new for years with some tips and tricks to prevent the color from fading in the wash. Separating your laundry by whites, colors and darks can reduce the risk of fabric color bleeding and fading as each type of load has a different recommended water temperature. If you don’t separate your laundry, wash using the cold water setting as warmer water can lead to faster fading.
How to Remove Odor from Clothes
Some odors are tougher to remove and need more help than the standard wash and rinse cycle. Some odors can be knocked out by washing items in the warmest water based on your garment's care tag. Always consult your clothing’s laundry tag to determine which method is safest for your garments.
FINISHING THE JOB
Now that you know how to do laundry like a pro, 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. Once you’ve mastered the basics of doing laundry, you can explore more advanced techniques, like laundry stripping, to get a deep clean on tougher stains (like removing set-in oil stains) and odors. If you’re looking for a hand removing tough wax stains from clothes, this guide will help. Learn how to handle tough jobs like washing soiled dog blankets and different types of dog toys. Find out how to wash other specialty items, like electric blankets in the washer.
Shop Maytag® washers and dryers
You can fight everyday stains and keep your clothes fresh with Maytag® washers and dryers. Browse options with innovative features like the Pet Pro System designed to remove pet hair or the 16-Hr Fresh Hold® option which uses a fan and extra tumbling cycles to circulate air throughout your laundry for up to 16 hours.
More Laundry How-To Guides
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- Swash and the recommending brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.