I don't want to make presumptions about your life- I mean, for all I know, you could be way better at doing laundry than I am. You might be the Lord of the Laundry. The Sultan of the Spin Cycle. The Professor of Permanent Press. The Dean of Dryer Sheets... But if you're not, here's a primer on my processes and the products I prefer.
Five Steps to Perfect Laundry
1. Get Sorted. Unless you have never watched a sitcom in your life, you should probably know that mixing red clothes and white clothes in the washer will result in pink clothes. I sort clothes by color (darks, brights, whites), and by type (towels together, delicates separate). I have a hamper with different sections so I can sort things as I use them.
2. Pretreat Her Like a Lady. The surest way to never get a stain out of an article of clothing is to wash and dry it without pretreating. I use Oxi Clean Spray Stain Remover, $5.50, from Amazon.com- I think it works better than Spray 'N Wash, and even better than messy, damaging bleach. Spray it directly on a stain and rub the fabric against itself. It's good to let it sit for a few minutes, but don't leave any laundry product on your clothes for more than a couple hours as it will damage the fibers. The other day I spilled half a glass of red wine on my white dress, and this stuff got it out easily- I felt like Billy Mays.
3. Brighten Up. In addition to regular detergent, I always add a brightener to the wash. I like Biz, $5, best, but you can't buy it in New York, so I use Clorox 2, $7. I find they really work to keep whites from getting dingy and keep bright colors from fading. And they also work at getting out stains.
4. Dry a Little Tenderness. I tend to set my dryer to "Light Dry" to prevent the dryer from cooking my clothes. I'll pull out sweaters and t-shirts and jeans, smooth them out and let them finish drying in the air (which keeps them from getting deep-set wrinkles), but I'll let towels and such dry all the way.
5. Get Into the Fold. Not to sound like your mom, but your laundry isn't really done until it's folded and put away in your drawers. If you fold your laundry while it is still warm from the dryer, you can smooth out most wrinkles before they set, but if you let your laundry sit in the dryer until it cools, you ain't never getting those things out.
Follow those steps, and you'll be the Swami of Suds. If you weren't already.
Laundry photo credit: Martha Stewart
13 minutes ago