Usage Tips \ Dryers \ How to do Laundry, From Start to Finish

How to do Laundry, From Start to Finish

Whether you’re a newcomer to laundry or a seasoned expert, it’s important to know how to properly wash and dry each item so that it is as clean as can be and can last as long as possible.

This eight-step guide can help you figure out how to do laundry so you get the results you want and maybe save a bit of frustration in the process. The aim is to demystify the many aspects of laundry day, from how to wash loads to stain removal and more.

Step 1: Know Your Laundry Symbols

You may have noticed a bunch of different symbols associated with clothing and laundry. What do these symbols on your clothing care tags mean?
The first thing you want to do is review your clothing label for the fabric information and the series of symbols. Always be careful to distinguish between the washing and drying symbols.
The next step is to understand how different fabric types respond to different water temperatures, detergents, and agitation. This will help keep laundry day running smoothly.
The most common laundry care symbols convey information about how to wash, heat level, bleach usage, dry cycles, ironing and dry cleaning.

Learn more here about decoding laundry care symbols.

PRO TIP: If you want your whites to stay looking their whitest, consult the triangle on the clothing label (if there is one) for bleaching instructions.

PRO TIP: Due to the advent of modern technologies found in most laundry machines, ironing usually isn’t necessary. If a particular piece of clothing does require ironing, or you simply want nice, crisp creases in your pants, symbols shaped like an old-fashioned iron will provide guidance on exactly how to do it.

Step 2: Prep your Clothes

Every laundry routine should begin with preparing your clothes to be washed.

Start preparing your laundry load by reviewing all the labels, and then setting aside any articles of clothing that need to be handwashed or dry cleaned.

Once your load is all sorted, empty every pocket, close zippers, fasten hooks and tie any strings. Also, turn any item that is prone to odour retention and fading, like jeans and workout clothes, inside out. Lastly, make sure to turn sweaters inside out to help avoid pilling.

It’s always recommended to pre-treat any stains or soiled areas. There are some top load washers on the market that have a water station where you can soak and pre-treat garments with water or water and detergent. This helps treat stains before they are machine washed.

PRO TIP: Wash your gym clothes inside out to help soapy water reach the inside surface where sweat and odour often get trapped.
PRO TIP: New clothes need to be washed on their own for the first few cycles. This is because new clothes have a tendency to readily bleed dyes.
Use these general stain removal rules:
  • Fresh stains are much easier to remove than stains that have had time to set, so treat every stain right away. If the stain is on a non-washable fabric, you should take it to the dry cleaners as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to tell them about the stain and the fibre content of the garment so they can dry clean it accordingly.
  • Always follow package directions when using any stain removal product.
  • Always test stain removers on a hidden part of a garment, like an inside seam, for colour fastness. You can perform a test by applying the product and then letting it stand for 2-5 minutes, and then rinsing it. If the colour changes, do not use this stain remover on the garment.
  • To clean a stain, place the stained area face down on either a dry paper towel or a white cloth. Apply stain remover to the underside of the stain to force it off the fabric surface, not through it.
  • Only use bleach on the entire garment, not just one area. This can prevent uneven colour removal. Always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s product use instructions and carefully follow the care instructions and any warnings on the garment care label regarding bleach usage.
  • Avoid putting chemical dry cleaning solvents directly into a washing machine.
  • Avoid a fire by carefully rinsing and air-drying the area(s) treated with dry cleaning solvents before placing the garment in the washer.
  • Never mix stain removal products. For instance, mixtures involving ammonia and chlorine bleach can produce noxious fumes.

Step 3: Carefully Sort and Separate Laundry

Sort by colour first and then fabric type and soil level until you have separated all similar clothes into full loads. Check your item’s tag for any special needs that may affect sorting.

COLOUR: Separate whites, lights and darks. This way you can avoid the risk of dyes bleeding out and staining other items.

FABRIC TYPE: Divide into denim, cotton, synthetics, blends, delicates, towels and bedding. Washing delicate and more durable fabrics separately may help prevent damage, as heavier fabrics are typically more abrasive, which may cause too much wear and tear on delicate clothes, resulting in other damage being caused. It can also help achieve more even drying, if they are are all transferred to the dryer together.

SOIL LEVEL: Separate heavily soiled items from lightly soiled items. More soiled items usually need to be washed in a longer, heavy-duty cycle.

PRO TIP: Separate the lint-givers from the lint-takers. Keep lint off clothes by washing lint-giving fabrics like towels and rugs separately from lint-takers like knits and corduroy.

Step 4: Add Detergent

The next step is to add the right amount of detergent to the machine.

Check that you’re using High-Efficiency (HE) detergent if your washer requires it.

Start by pouring detergent into the dispenser or, if there isn’t one, pour it right into the tub. Measure according to the package instructions. The amount of detergent you require is dependent on the load size and the detergent concentration. If you use detergent pods, place one in the bottom of the tub.

Swash™ liquid laundry detergent from Whirlpool Corporation works in both HE and non-HE washers. It is 8x concentrated, meaning you can use less than regular detergent. Another benefit is the compact and intelligent bottle design with a Precision Pour Cap that prevents waste caused by overpouring.

Some washing machines have an automatic detergent dispenser that increases efficiency and delivers an effective clean. It can calculate how much detergent is required and removes the chore of adding detergent to every load.

Many people opt to include fabric softener in their laundry routine. Fabric softeners smooth and coat fibres making them feel softer, tackle wrinkles, reduce static and in some cases can add a fresh, pleasant fragrance to your clothes. For liquid softener, always measure the correct amount for your load, as indicated on the fabric softener packaging. Add liquid fabric softener to the designated softener dispenser at the beginning of your wash, if your model has this feature. Check the care label of each clothing item before use.

You can usually find specifics in your owner’s manual. If your washer doesn’t have a dispenser, you can manually add liquid fabric softener during the final rinse cycle while the tub is full of water. Do not add during the wash cycle, as it will only serve to rinse away the effects of the softener.

Step 5: Load the Washer

You should now be ready to load the washer.
Load all items into the washer loosely and evenly around the tub. You want them to have enough room to move around in the water and tumble. The last thing you want to do is to cram them in.
PRO TIP: When washing bulky single items like a rug or jacket, add a few extra items to balance the weight.

Step 6: Select the Wash Settings

Many washing machines are engineered with a variety of cycles, each geared toward helping ensure your clothes are cleaned based on their specific needs. The Normal cycle is most likely your go-to for your more common loads. You may have to deal with different stains and fabric types, so consider another cycle option to achieve the most optimal clean.

It’s never a bad idea to consult your appliance’s use and care instructions and clothing labels before washing.
Select the cycle, temperature, spin speed and extras:
  • Select a cycle that matches your specific load. You may select a different wash temperature based on the soil level and the type of fabric being washed.
Typical cycle options may include:
  • Cold water wash: Often used to wash bright or darkly coloured cotton, linens, many casual items, mixed loads or clothes with cold water stains.
  • Delicate cycle: Commonly used for lightly soiled sheer fabrics, lingerie, sweaters, blouses, pants or anything where the tag recommends a “gentle” cycle. Typically, it works by combining gentle wash action with low-speed spin for gentle cleaning that can also reduce wrinkling.
  • Wrinkle Control/Permanent Press Cycle: Typically used for any item with this specific symbol on its care tag, such as fabrics that wrinkle easily like button-up shirts, professional clothes, linens, activewear or non-iron clothing. It uses warm water and slower spin cycles to release existing wrinkles and help prevent new ones from setting.
Next, select add-ons like steam or a longer soak to help with loads needing extra cleaning.

Step 7: Get Ready to Dry

Transfer clothes to the dryer as soon as they are ready. This can help reduce wrinkles and possibly prevent odour buildup.

Make sure to do the following:
  • As you load, set aside stained items and anything that recommends air-drying on the tag.
  • Fill the dryer about halfway for permanent press loads and three-quarters of the way for normal loads. Tightly balled up clothes or an overflowing drum can result in slower dry times and wrinkled items.
  • Consistently clean the dryer’s lint screen by rolling lint off with your fingers. This helps maintain good air circulation for fast dry times. Do not use water to remove lint.

Step 8: Select the Dryer Settings

Most dryers have a suite of features and cycle options that optimize performance and make your laundry routine more efficient. Consult the care tags on your clothing and refresh your understanding of what the symbols mean with this quick guide.

Some typical cycle options include:
  • Regular/Automatic: Generally a high heat setting that is best for cotton and other items that take longer to dry like sweatshirts, jeans, beach towels, and sheets, to name a few.
  • Delicate/Gentle: Typically a lower heat setting ideal for loosely woven fabrics or anything with embellishment like sequins and sports jerseys with iron-on decals. It’s important to dry spandex/exercise clothing on low heat because it prevents the fabric from fraying, fading and stretching.
  • Permanent Press: Usually a medium heat setting ideal for clothes made of synthetic fibres or specially treated to protect against wrinkles. It also typically has a cool down period near the end of the cycle, switching from warm air to room temperature air to prevent wrinkling or creasing.
  • To further help wrinkle prevention, certain dryers will periodically tumble the load at the end of the cycle (often with no heat added). This can help keep wrinkles from setting. The occasional tumbling can last for 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the dryer model.
Some available dryers may offer a Steam Cycle option that uses both water and heat to help release wrinkles without rewashing. Generally, it can also help eliminate odours and lighter stains.
Many newer dryers have auto-sensing technology. Instead of ending the cycle once the set time has expired, the dryer employs a moisture sensor to detect when the clothing is close to completely dry and then stops the cycle.
PRO TIP: The “tumble dry” symbols mean that it’s okay to dry the garment in your dryer instead of air drying it.

Find Space to Neatly Fold

Now that your clothes are washed and dried, you should find a clean and flat surface for folding. Allocating a specific area for folding helps keep clothes off the floor or off the tops of your washer and dryer.
We hope you find this guide useful and that it helps make your laundry routine more efficient and effective. It’s a good idea to keep it handy so you can refer back to it until these steps and tips become second nature.

Check out this Related Article.

Find the right washer and/or dryer for you by using our appliance finder tool.

Keep performance at its peak. Give your dryer the care it deserves beyond the manufacturer's warranty. Learn more.
Did you find the article helpful?
You already voted!

Related Articles

Keep performance at its peak. Give your dryer the care it deserves beyond the manufacturer's warranty. Learn more.

Share this article

This will come in handy.

Get monthly answers to household challenges, and more from Appliance Answers and Whirlpool Canada.*

Popular Articles

Gas vs. Electric Dryers

When the time comes to buy a new dryer, you have some decisions to make as far as features and design options but, choosing your

How to Buy a Dryer: The Full Guide

Table of Contents Planning considerations Decide on Your Preferred Set-up Washer and dryer sets can be installed in one of two ways. You can position

Fix it, clean it,
adjust it, love it.

Sign up for monthly tips & tricks and more from Appliance Answers and Whirlpool Canada.*
By closing this message, you consent to our cookies on this device in accordance with our Privacy Notice unless you have disabled them.