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To give you the best of wear, your clothes need the best of care. Garment manufacturers are required by law to stitch care labels into their garments. Check these labels carefully. They are your best guide for what to do and what not to do. The manufacturers know their garments well: their fabrics, their construction, the dyes. The best of the laundry tips? Always follow their instructions!

Some care labels state: “Use A Mild Detergent.” In this case, use a light-duty detergent. A general purpose detergent may cause light spots to appear on the garment, especially on pastel-colored cotton fabrics. Should such spotting occur, soak the entire garment in a solution of four parts water and one part general purpose detergent. This lightens the entire garment and evens out the color.

First Time Around

Have doubts if a new garment is colorfast? Test it first! Here are two tests to try:

  1. Wash it separately the first time around. If there is color left in the wash water, continue washing it separately the second time, the third time and so forth, until the color no longer bleeds into the water.
  2. Apply a little water or detergent on an inconspicuous area. If the color runs, wash it separately.

Sorting Secrets

There’s more to the sorting game than just keeping dark garments away from the gleaming whites. The secret is mixing and matching items into loads that need similar soaps or detergents, wash cycles, and water temperatures. It’s the time to check those garment care labels for special cleaning instructions. Without a doubt, smart sorting is the way of insuring clean results – wash, after wash, after wash.

1. Sort By Color

Wash all whites separately; pastels and medium colors together; brights and darks by themselves. Pay special attention to white and lightly colored synthetics; they can pick up dark dyes from other fabrics during washing. Check trimmings and decorations for colorfastness too.

2. Sort For Soil

Sort out those heavily soiled items away from the lightly soiled ones, since lightly soiled items can pick up the extra soil from the wash water. Whites will slowly get grayer or yellower; colors will become duller and duller.

3. Consider Specialty Sorts

  • The Unmatched Set: Mix small and large items together in each load. This lets clothes move more freely, resulting in better washing.
  • The Fabric Types: Consider the fabrics and how they are constructed. Separate loosely knitted garments and delicates from regular wash loads, then wash on the gentle cycle.
  • The Lint Losers: Fuzzy sweat shirts, chenille robes, flannels, and new towels have a tendency to share their lint with other garments during washing. Wash them in a load by themselves – away from corduroys and permanent press garments, which attract lint easily.
  • The Fluorescents: Hot pinks, bright greens, electric blues are often much less colorfast than other fabrics. Wash them separately or test them first before washing with other colors. For safety’s sake do not pre-treat with stain removers unless you have tested them for colorfastness first on an inconspicuous area. Fluorescent colors may fade over time.

This laundry tips post is reprinted with permission from the American Cleaning Institute. For more information visit their website: www.cleaninginstitute.org

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