How to Separate Clothes for Laundry


Many people learn how to properly separate their laundry by trial and error. It may not seem important, but separating your laundry the right way makes a big difference in how long your clothing lasts, and how the color and appearance hold up. Learn how to separate your laundry so you can get your clothes as clean as possible, while maintaining their color and appearance.

  • Dump dirty laundry onto the floor. It's easier to separate when you can see what you have to wash.

  • Begin by placing clothing that is all white in one pile. Place all colored clothing in a second pile.

  • Sort items that will shed lint, such as towels, from the white and colored piles. Keep white towels in a pile of their own and place all other colors of towels in one pile. You will now have three to four piles.

  • Make a separate pile for colored clothing that is not colorfast, such as red garments or denim. Always test new garments for colorfastness before washing them with other clothing.

  • Separate heavily soiled clothing from lightly soiled clothing. If someone in your family is an auto mechanic, you don't want to wash their grease-covered clothing with other laundry. Doing so could result in permanent stains on other fabrics.

  • Move delicates and fine washables to their own pile. These items must be washed on the delicate cycle, which uses less agitation than regular clothing.

  • Follow the instructions on your clothing's care labels and laundry detergent packaging to ensure you use the right water temperature, rinse temperature and amount of laundry detergent for each separate pile of laundry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Set up a few hampers in your closet or laundry room so you can separate laundry as you place it in the hamper.
  • When in doubt, wash a garment in cold water. Hot water will ruin some clothing items and also causes stains to set.

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  • Photo Credit laundry image by timur1970 from towels image by Ruta Saulyte from
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