Sorting laundry is a step that people often overlook when washing their clothing until it’s too late, and something bleeds and turns all of your vibrant whites a shade of red, black, or blue. Sorting laundry into different loads and keeping clothes that share similar colors and characteristics is an essential step in doing your laundry the right way.

It can get confusing between all the colors, darks, lights, and brights to determine what can go in the wash together, but thankfully, ZIPS is here to teach you how to separate clothes for washing. Check out these helpful tips for correctly separating and sorting your laundry to keep your clothes looking brand new.

Why Should You Separate Your Laundry?

Clothing comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and materials, so it’s important to remember that washing them together is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You should always separate your laundry to prevent colors from dyed fabrics from bleeding onto white clothing and to avoid tears in delicate fabrics.

How to Separate Laundry

Properly separating clothes for laundry by color, fabric type, and other factors can help prevent color transfer, protect delicate fabrics, and ensure that your clothes come out of the wash looking fresh and new. From checking labels to separating the lights from the whites, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make sorting your laundry a breeze.

checking garment care label

Step 1: Always Check the Label First

You should always refer to the garment care label first and follow the instructions for the best results possible. This guide should only be used as a general reference or for clothing without tags or instructions.

Step 2: Sort by Color

Contrary to popular belief, sorting by color is more than separating your lights from your darks. When it comes to sorting your laundry by color, there are four different categories you should be dividing your laundry into.

laundry sorted by colors.

Whites: Whites refer to white clothing without any patterns or embroidery. These clothes are as plain as it gets and are the most likely to be dyed by a stray red sock in the washing machine.

Darks: Darks include deep purples, blues, and other similar colors. While blacks and browns are technically darks, we suggest taking it one step further and giving those colors their own load to prevent the dye from darkening your other clothes in the wash.

Lights: Lights include white clothing with print or embroidery on them. This category also includes your off-whites, pale yellows, or any other clothing that is almost white but not quite.

Brights: Brights are the colors that pop, like red, yellow, and green. Brights are also the primary culprits in dying white and light clothing in the wash. You will not want to mix these with other clothes on laundry day!

Step 3: Sort by Fabric Type

Different fabrics often call for different washing methods. For example, what’s right for athletic wear isn’t necessarily the best option for sleepwear or bedding. Learn more about the different types of clothing and fabrics and how to wash them below.

Sheets and Bedding: Comforters and thick blankets wash the best in high-capacity washing machines. Be sure to separate the sheets from the comforters and use the warmest setting possible according to the instructions when washing bedding items.

Towels: Keep towels together but separate white towels from dark and brightly colored towels to prevent bleeding. Wash towels in hot water and rinse them with extra water to remove any lingering residue.

Delicates: Delicates are premium thin fabrics like silk, chiffon, wool, linen, and lace. Always wash delicate fabrics according to the instructions on the tag. Many delicates require hand washing; however, if you have delicate garments that are machine washable, avoid mixing them with other fabrics to prevent them from being damaged. Protect your delicates by putting them in mesh bags before laundering.

Denim: When washing denim jeans and other similar items, use cold water to avoid shrinkage. Wash them inside out on a delicate cycle with similarly-colored clothing.

Athleticwear: Always wash athleticwear separately from other clothing and fabrics, as they are prone to stubborn odors caused by sweat and bacteria. Wash them in a cycle with cold water and mild detergent.

Clothes in a washing machine

Other Laundry Sorting Tips

Sorting your laundry before washing is an essential step to help keep your clothes looking their best. While separating laundry by color and fabric type is a great starting point, here are some other tips and tricks to consider that can further elevate your laundry routine.

Stained and Heavily Soiled Laundry

Always check for stains, dirt, or heavy soiling on your clothing before putting them in the washing machine. Separate these items from the rest of your laundry and pre-treat the stains for proper stain removal during the wash cycle.

After sorting by color and fabric, wash the heavily soiled or stained clothes on a longer cycle using an appropriate water temperature for the garment. Separating your stained and heavily soiled laundry from the rest of the clothing is essential to prevent dirt and stain particles from settling onto other clothing in the laundry. After washing, check to see if the stain is gone. If not, repeat the process or air dry the item until you can. Do not use your dryer, as excessive heat can cause the stain to set.

New Clothes and Brightly Colored Laundry

New clothing tends to bleed, so make sure to wash them separately from your other laundry for the first few times. Brightly colored items should never be washed with dark laundry or whites, as the bright colors can bleed onto the whites, potentially ruining them.

Additionally, clothing and fabrics with dark dyes can darken brightly colored garments. Always separate new items by color, fabric type, and other factors to prevent any color transfer or damage to your clothing.

How ZIPS Can Help

Looking at laundry

Properly sorting and separating your laundry can help keep your clothing looking fresh and new for longer. At ZIPS, we understand the importance of taking care of your garments. That’s why we offer professional cleaning services, like our Wash N Fold and Laundered & Pressed services, that include proper sorting and separating of your clothing to prevent color transfer and damage.

If you’re short on time or want to ensure your clothes are handled professionally, try using a cleaning service like ZIPS. We take pride in treating your garments with the utmost care to maximize their longevity and keep you looking your best every day of the week. Visit our website for more ZIPS tips and to find a location near you. Trust ZIPS to keep your clothes looking their best!