A person with a basket of laundry preparing to wash clothes

How to Do Laundry

Sometimes life isn’t easy, and neither is your laundry.

You may feel overwhelmed when you’re faced with choosing the right detergent, or, perhaps you’re more worried about shrinking that sweater in the wash. From how to do laundry, beginning with the basics such as sorting, dosing the right amount of detergent, and decoding laundry symbols,to getting sweat stains out of clothes, let Tide help you with our laundry guide that includes 7 easy tips, whether you’re a novice or a pro.

Laundry Basics

Odour Removal

How to Do Laundry In 7 Easy Steps

How to Do Laundry - Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1. Know Your Laundry Symbols

It may seem like a secret code at first glance, but fabric care labels are actually easy to interpret. These laundry symbols let you know before washing which cycle to use, how to dry, and even how high the heat setting on an iron you can use. Once you get to know a few of these universal washing symbols, your laundry routine will become second nature. Some of the most common laundry symbols will show you:

  • When to use a cold or hot wash, or something in between

  • When to use or avoid bleach

  • Which garments to tumble dry and which should dry flat

Because different materials have different laundry needs, it's important to check your garments' fabric care labels before getting started. Knowing these symbols will help you get the best results and preserve the life of your clothes. Follow along to learn how to read laundry symbols or simply download or print our free laundry symbol cheat sheet to use whenever you need it, so you can give your clothes the best care possible:

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Step 2. Learn How to Separate Laundry

Once you've familiarized yourself with fabric care labels, the next step toward laundry success is sorting. For the best results, you'll want to wash different colours and fabrics separately, so to begin, you can sort clothes by:

Colour Shades

Clothes with deep colours are more likely to bleed dye when washed. To avoid damaging other clothing, sort laundry according to colour, separating lights from darks.

Fabric Weight

Wash and dry heavier items, like towels, separately from lighter weight clothes to prevent damage to finer fabrics and ensure even drying.

Fabric Type

Wash delicates and durable fabrics separately on the appropriate washing cycles to avoid damage to fine fabrics. Separate items with zippers and buttons from knits and lingerie.

Amount of Dirt

Very dirty or stained laundry should be washed separately on a longer, heavy-duty cycle. This provides the agitation necessary to get rid of heavy dirt.

Don't worry, we're here to show you how to sort laundry for the best results.

Step 3. Understand How to Pre-treat Stains

Pre-treat any heavily stained or soiled clothes. This helps to loosen up the stain, making it easier to wash it out. There are several methods you can use, depending on the stain, but these two are used most often:

Coffee, tea, berry, or sweat stains

Pour detergent directly on the stain. Then gently rub the fabric together or use a soft-bristled toothbrush to help work the detergent into the fibers, then leave it on for a few minutes.

Blood, dirt, or motor oil stains

Prepare a soaking solution with Tide detergent. Let these garments soak for about 30 minutes before washing.

And, there are other stains where these alternative pre-treating methods may come in handy:

Butter, margarine, or grease stains

Rub dish detergent onto the stain to loosen it before pre-treating.

Chewing gum stains

Soak the item in hot vinegar for 1-3 minutes, but always test for colourfastness first. You can do this by applying a small amount of vinegar to an inconspicuous area of the garment. After a few minutes, blot with a paper towel, and if no colour comes off on the towel, your garment is colourfast, and you can continue to pre-treat.

Step 4. Determine How Much Detergent to Use

Correct detergent dosing is the next most important factor for laundry success. The right amount depends on how large your load is, how dirty the clothes are, the hardness of your water, as well as the type of detergent you're using. And, you may still need to use a different amount if you are using an HE machine.

The correct dosing is printed on every Tide detergent package, and you can use the cap for liquids and the scoop for powders to measure the correct dosage. With Tide PODS®, dosing is even easier. Simply place the sufficient number of laundry pacs into the drum, then add clothes, and start the cycle. Let us show you how much detergent to use for every load size with our simple Tide PODS Dosing guide.

Step 5. Master How to Load a Washing Machine

To get the most out of your wash (and save time and energy), pay attention to the size of your washer’s drum and your load size. Give your clothes enough room to tumble, without wasting water, by applying the palm trick to avoid overloading.

Just place your hand into the drum, and if your hand fits between your clothes and the wall of the drum, then you have the perfect load size. It's as easy as that.

Step 6. Select the Proper Wash Cycle

Before selecting your cycle, always check the care label first. Aside from your detergent, the speed of agitation and temperature of the water are what get your clothes their cleanest. After you’ve sorted your items by colour or fabric type, choosing the right cycle should be easy. Check the table below to see what speed and what temperature to wash clothes for the best results:

Normal / Regular Cycle

  • Fabric Type: Best for whites, sheets, towels, underwear, socks and heavily soiled items

  • Purpose and Speed: Removes stains and dirt; cleans durable fabrics. Uses fast agitation in the wash cycle, and a fast spin cycle.

Delicate Cycle

  • Fabric Type: Best for wool, silk, and any other, fragile garments that say “gentle wash” on the tag

  • Purpose and Speed: Gently cleans delicate items. Uses slow agitation in wash cycle, and a slow rinse cycle.

Permanent Press Cycle

  • Fabric Type: Best for jeans, many non-cotton items, synthetic fibers such as rayons, knits, polyesters and acetates

  • Purpose and Speed: Cleans every-day clothes that wrinkle easily. Uses fast agitation in the wash cycle, and a slow spin cycle.

Using the correct water temperature can mean the difference between clean, bright clothes and dingy or still-dirty results. Keep colours from running or bleeding and banish spots and odours by checking the water temperature table before you get started.

Cold Setting

  • Fabric Type: Dark colours, bright colours that may run or fade, delicate fabrics, lightly soiled fabrics, anything that might shrink

  • Purpose: Cold water saves the most energy while also being the most gentle on clothing.

Warm Setting

  • Fabric Type: Fabric Type:: Synthetic, permanent press fabrics, towels

  • Purpose: Good cleaning power for preserving colours without much fading or risk of shrinking.

Hot Setting

  • Fabric Type: Whites, cotton fabrics, socks, bed sheets, heavily soiled garments, baby clothes

  • Purpose: Hot water removes the toughest stains and gives garments a deep clean.

Step 7. Consider How to Dry Your Clothes

Now that you’ve got fresh, clean clothes, there are a few important things to remember when drying them. It’s important to choose the correct temperature for drying to prevent shrinkage and damage to the garments’ fibers. But first, don’t forget to take laundry out of the washer immediately to prevent musty smells from forming.

Before drying, check your items’ care labels. Some fabric types cannot be tumble dried, so you'll want to set those pieces aside to air dry. To help you get the best results, here’s a quick guide to fabric care labels’ drying symbols.

Now, be sure not to overload your dryer so all your garments have enough room to tumble. Add a Bounce dryer sheet to stop wrinkles and prevent static, and you’re good to go!

Whether you use Tide PODS®, liquid or powder detergent, you’ll be confident with your laundry in no time with our advice on how to do laundry and more! With our comprehensive laundry guide, and this quick summary video, you’ll master laundry basics in no time.