When it comes to laundry, there is a lot of ancient knowledge that's passed down from generation to generation. One such tidbit that has lasted through the ages is that you should always separate your whites, colors, and darks. However, if you're a lazy millennial like me, you want to save time, money, and water by doing everything at once. Luckily for you, I am not just any lazy millennial, I'm also the cleaning expert at Reviewed. Over the years, I've tested hundreds of washing machines and done literal tons of laundry. So, here are my tips on how to do laundry when you refuse to separate anything.
Why should you separate colors and whites?
First off, why is the rule of thumb to separate your clothes? Basically, it's all about color transference—dye from one article of clothing coming off and sticking to another. Dyes can transfer for a variety of reasons. For example, manufacturers sometimes over-dye clothing to make them appear brighter on the shelves. Colors also bleed and run because the fabric is too frayed to hold on to the dye or the dye was of inferior quality.
How do you keep colors from running?
The short answer is that you can't, not totally. It's the fate of all things that go into the washer to come out a little more faded. However, you can slow down the process. First and foremost, set your washer to cold. If you use the right detergent and wait a little longer, you can get the same clean as with warm water.
How do you protect your delicates?
Usually, a frilly blouse can't hang in the same wash as sturdy towels. However, if you place your delicates inside a mesh bag or pillowcase, you can protect them from the rough-and-tumble items inside your washing machine. This also works the other way around, too. For example, you can place a pair of shoes in the washer, as long as you isolate them.
Do color catchers really work?
Color catchers are products that promise to "catch" the loose dye, stopping them from bleeding onto another piece of clothing. I tested two brands of color catchers with some interesting results. The first thing I did was dip them directly into dyed water. I was surprised how effective the catchers were at removing the dye from the water. I also tested normal loads of laundry mixed in with fresh white t-shirts with and without the catchers. The end result was a mild reduction in the transference of colors.
Color catchers might be worth it if you vow never to separate your laundry again or if you're washing something brand new that might be over-dyed.
What about just rolling with it?
The final piece of advice for someone who wants to never separate your laundry: You can just live with the consequences. While color bleeding and running is real, it usually isn't that dramatic and takes place over time. After you remove white from your wardrobe and wash on cold, the issues are greatly reduced. When something prematurely fades or changes color, you can throw it out, cut it up to use as rags, or just keep wearing it. At the end of the day, you need clothing to protect you from the elements—and decency laws—but you don't need fashion.