How to Separate Laundry? (The Ultimate Guide!)

We’re reader-supported; we may earn a commission from links in this article.

Sorting laundry can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be!

With the right techniques and tips in this article, you can quickly and easily sort laundry into piles that are ready for washing.

How to Separate Laundry?

Firstly, let’s debunk the myth: separating laundry is not as complicated as it sounds.

In fact, it’s a simple step-by-step process that will become second nature once you get the hang of it.

You’ll find your clothes last longer, look better, and you’ll avoid any unfortunate color bleeding accidents. So, let’s dive in and learn how to separate laundry effectively and efficiently.

Step 1: Sort by Color

The first step is to sort your laundry by color. Make three piles: whites, light colors (like pastels and grays), and dark colors (like blacks, blues, and browns).

This will prevent colors from bleeding into one another during the wash.

Dark clothes, especially new ones, have a tendency to bleed color in the wash. This could potentially stain your lighter clothes, giving them an undesired tint. That’s exactly why it’s crucial to separate these items and wash them together.

White clothes are the most susceptible to this.

Step 2: Separate Delicates

Next, separate any delicate items like lingerie, silk materials, and items with intricate detailing. Any delicate fabric type should typically be washed separately and on a delicate cycle to prevent damage.

Delicate fabrics, such as silk, lace, and cashmere, require special attention due to their sensitive nature.

These materials are prone to snagging, shrinking, or losing their shape if washed with regular clothes.

Hence, it’s advisable to wash them separately, preferably by hand or on a special delicate cycle in your washing machine, to maintain their original quality and extend their lifespan.

Step 3: Check Care Labels

Always check the care labels on your clothes. Some items may have specific washing instructions or may need to be dry cleaned. Following these instructions will ensure that your clothes stay in the best condition possible.

Step 4: Pre-treat Stains

Before washing, pre-treat any visible stains. This will ensure a more thorough clean and increase the chances of the stain being entirely removed.

Step 5: Load the Washing Machine

Finally, load your washing machine with one pile at a time. Avoid overfilling the machine, as this can lead to less effective washing and potentially damage both your clothes and the machine.

Time-Saving Tips for Laundry Separation

With the basics covered, let’s discuss some time-saving tips to make the process of separating laundry even quicker and more efficient.

Tip 1: Use a Multi-Compartment Hamper

Consider investing in a multi-compartment hamper. This way, you can sort your laundry as you go – one compartment for whites, one for light colors, and one for darks. It makes laundry day a breeze!

Tip 2: Always Check Pockets

Always check the pockets of your clothes before washing. Not only could you damage your clothes or washing machine with items left in the pocket, but you could also save yourself the trouble of ruined laundry or, even worse, a broken washing machine.

Tip 3: Have a Separate Bin for Delicates

Having a separate bin for delicates can also save you time on laundry day. This way, you won’t need to search through your other clothes to find your delicates when it’s time to wash them.

Tip 4: Keep a Stain Remover Nearby

Keeping a stain remover near your laundry hamper can allow you to pre-treat stains as soon as they happen, saving you time later.

Separating Laundry by Fabric Type

Just as colors can bleed, fabrics can react to each other unfavorably in the wash. They can also require different washing treatments for optimal care. Delineating your laundry according to the fabric type is an essential step in the laundry separation process.

Cottons and Linens

Cotton and linen pieces are often durable and can withstand high temperatures. However, they’re prone to shrinkage, so it’s best to wash them in cold water if you want to maintain their original size.


Synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon, are generally easier to care for and more resistant to stains and wrinkles. They can be washed in warm water and dried on a low setting.


Woolen garments require special care. They should typically be washed in cold water on the delicate cycle. Alternatively, you might prefer hand washing them. Once washed, they should be laid flat to dry to prevent them from losing their shape.


Silk items should preferably be hand washed in cold water with a gentle detergent. If your washing machine has a silk cycle, you can use that too. Remember to air-dry them instead of using a dryer to prevent shrinkage and maintain their lustrous quality.

Dealing with Heavily Soiled Items

Heavily soiled items need a bit of extra attention. Items that are excessively dirty, such as children’s clothing or work clothes, might not get fully clean when washed with only mildly soiled garments. Therefore, it’s suggested to separate heavily soiled items and wash them together in a separate cycle.

If a piece of clothing is visibly soiled or stained, it’s a good idea to pre-treat these spots with a stain remover or a bit of laundry detergent. After applying the stain remover, let it sit for at least 5 minutes before washing. This allows the stain remover to penetrate the fabric and work on the stain before the item is washed.

If the garment is very dirty, you might also consider soaking it in warm water with a bit of laundry detergent for a few hours before washing. This can help to loosen any embedded dirt and make it easier to wash out.

Remember, heavily soiled items might require a hotter wash or a specific wash cycle on your machine to get them completely clean. Always refer to the garment’s care label for specific washing instructions.

Using Mesh Bags for Laundry Separation

Mesh bags are a handy tool when it comes to separating laundry. Especially useful for small or delicate items, such as socks, underwear, and bras, they provide an extra layer of protection during the wash cycle.

Why Use Mesh Bags?

Mesh bags can prevent delicate items from getting tangled with other clothing, which can lead to stretching or tearing. They also keep small items together, so you won’t lose any socks in the wash.

How to Use Mesh Bags?

To use a mesh bag, just place your delicate or small items inside and zip it shut. Then, add the bag to your washing machine along with the rest of your load. Remember to wash similar colors together, even when using mesh bags.

Choosing the Right Mesh Bag

Mesh bags come in various sizes, so you can choose one that best fits your needs. Smaller bags are perfect for items like socks and underwear, while larger ones can be used for bigger garments such as sweaters or dresses.

Remember, using mesh bags can help extend the life of your clothes by providing them with an extra layer of protection during the wash. However, they are not a substitute for sorting your laundry by color, fabric type, and soil level – they’re an additional tool to make the process smoother and more effective.

Understanding the Importance of Water Temperature in Laundry Sorting

It’s not just the color, fabric type, or soil level that matters when sorting your laundry. Water temperature also plays a significant part in the outcome of your wash. Understanding how different water temperatures affect various types of clothing can help you optimize your laundry process.

Cold Water

Cold water is ideal for delicate fabrics, items that might shrink, and sensitive dark colors that tend to bleed. It’s also a perfect choice for lightly soiled clothes. Moreover, washing in cold water is energy efficient and can save on your utility bills.

Warm Water

Warm water can be used for synthetic fibers, white or light-colored garments that are heavily soiled, and typically colored clothes. It’s a middle-of-the-road temperature that helps remove dirt and grime without being too harsh on your clothes.

Hot Water

Hot water is suitable for sturdy fabrics and heavily soiled items. It aids in the removal of tough stains and sanitizes the clothing. However, it can cause fading or shrinkage, so it’s best to check the care labels on your garments before opting for the hot water cycle.

Remember, always refer to the clothing label for specific washing instructions. The label provides essential information on the care of the garment, which can help you decide the right water temperature for washing.


Remember, the key to efficient laundry separation is staying organized! With these best practices in place, you’ll find that the process becomes quicker and your clothes last longer.

Happy washing!

Justin Chia

Justin is the author of Justjooz and is a data analyst and AI expert. He is also a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumni, majoring in Biological Sciences.

He regularly posts AI and analytics content on LinkedIn, and writes a weekly newsletter, The Juicer, on AI, analytics, tech, and personal development.

To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.

Similar Posts