Through coaching many, many readers on how to successfully wash their laundry, I noticed that there was a significant lack of laundry know-how.

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Every day, I receive emails from people that had no clue how to wash their clothes – from college students to professional business men and women to stay-at-home moms.

This lack of laundry skills that I’ve observed over the years has nothing to do with age or profession or socioeconomic status. It seems that a whole generation of people just didn’t learn how to wash clothes properly.

So I’m thrilled to help you here at Mama’s Laundry Talk!

In this 4-part series on Laundry Basics, you’ll find simple step-by-step help on getting your clothes clean and folded in your drawers.

First up on the Laundry Basics list: How to Sort Clothes!


Do I even need to sort laundry?

Interestingly enough, you’ll find several different opinions when it comes to sorting clothes. Mama’s Method is certainly not the only way. If you have a method that is working for you, then by all means stick with it!

But if you are getting a failing grade in the Sorting Department, then read on.

First of all, what is the reason to sort clothes in the first place? Do you need to sort clothes at all?

A very good question.

In my personal opinion, you do.

Sorting clothes allows you to use different washing cycles (‘delicate’ versus ‘normal’) and also allows for washing in different temperatures.

Most importantly, sorting clothes decreases the chances that a garment is going to bleed onto another when you control cycle type and water temperature.

If you do choose to sort your clothes prior to washing them, keep reading for Mama’s best tips.

Sorting Clothes by Color

There are several distinct piles in which to sort clothes: whites, darks, lights, jeans, and delicates.

You could sub-divide even further, but these categories are the most used.

Whites: White t-shirts, white underwear, white socks and other similar items fall into this category. This pile is for white sturdy cottons that can withstand normal agitation in the washer on a warm or hot wash cycle.

Darks: Grays, blacks, navies, reds, dark purples and similar colors are sorted into this load.

Lights: More pastel-type colors such as pinks, lavenders, light blues, lights greens and yellows are placed in this pile of laundry.

Jeans: All items with denim material are washed together in this load.

Delicates: This category includes several types of clothing – lingerie, pantyhose, washable silks, and any clothing you’d like to keep from the harsh agitation of the washer.

Sorting Clothes by Fabric Weight

Please note that color is not the only consideration when sorting clothes. The weight of the garment should be considered as well.

For example, if you have several pairs of heavy cotton pants, then you don’t want to wash those with thin t-shirts. Washing clothes with ‘heavy’ material can possibly tear or rip clothes that are thin and light-weight while enduring the agitation of the washer.

Ask me how I know. Sigh.

If they are placed in the dryer together, they obviously won’t dry at the same rate since one fabric is much heavier than another.

It’s best just to separate these types of garments from the start and wash them in two separate loads.

Dealing with Stains While Sorting

While I am sorting clothes, I also make a pile for items that need stain removal attention.

As soon as I am finished sorting the other clothes, I go through and sort the stained items. If they need a quick spray with stain remover, I do so and then put them in whichever sorting category they fall into.

If it’s a bad stain, I put it in the bucket for the Stain Removal Soak.

Sorting Doesn’t Have to Take a Long Time!

Sorting clothes doesn’t have to be laborious. Consider it to be part of your laundry routine.

You can sort clothes as you put them in the dirty hamper using a laundry sorter. This method works well in that you can easily look at the ‘whites’ basket and see that it’s full and needs to be dealt with.

Alternatively, if you only wash clothes once (or twice) a week, you can dump all of your clothes in one big laundry basket and then sort just prior to washing.

Different methods work for different people in various stages of life.

What works for an empty-nester couple might be drastically different than what works for a young mother.

See more: Why Do My Sugar Gliders Bark At Night, Why Do Sugar Gliders Bark

Other Sorting Tips

I find when I have a newborn, I tend to wash all of their clothes together. Newborn outfits are mostly pastel in color, so they easily wash in the same load without issues.

And it seems that newborn clothes all make it back to the nursery if they are washed together – not in various loads. I seem to have trouble getting them all back to the baby’s room if they are washed here and there. This might just be my experience.