What Colors To Wash Together

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

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.

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.

Light colored fabrics are sensitive to darker dyes and can absorb them and look faded, so it’s best to keep colors and darks separate for both washing and drying. Keep light colors like pinks, lavenders, yellows, light blues and light greens separate from grays, blacks, reds, navies and other dark colors.

A Quick Guide to Washing the Most Common Types of Fabrics

Separating clothes by fabric is an extra step you can take to ensure the health and longevity of your clothing. Each fabric type has a different washing method that can help the clothing maintain its size and coloration to the fullest. To ensure that you use the correct steps all throughout the laundry process, always check the fabric care label of your garments before washing. Read on to discover how to care for the most common fabric types.

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.

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.

But what about washing towels and sheets?

Washing towels and sheets deserves its own post, so make sure you click over and read those details.

Lastly, I know that there are many of you out there who do not sort clothes at all since you wash all of your loads on the ‘cold’ temperature setting.

Again, do what works best for you in your laundry routine!

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.


What clothes can you wash together?

Your light-colored clothes are perfectly safe to be washed together with your whites. That means light-blue, light-brown, pink, light-green, lavender, yellow, beige, cream, orange, fuchsia and other pastel shades can go into the same pile as your whites, light greys, and garments with white background prints.

Can you wash all colored clothes together?

Don’t make this a habit, but if you don’t have enough items to make up a full machine load of each type of fabric and you are in a hurry, you can wash all clothes of the same color together. Just be sure to choose the correct washer cycle and use cold water to avoid damaging the most delicate garments in the load.

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