6 tips that make doing laundry so much easier
You're an adult now—start doing your laundry right
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Visualize your hamper.
Be honest: Is it a Matterhorn of socks and sweaters? Do you find yourself waiting until your last pair of clean underwear is discarded before finally, begrudgingly, lugging your laundry to the washroom in the basement, or worse—down the street to the laundromat?
Now, visualize your clothes after a round of laundry. Are they faded and covered in spots? Did they even manage to dry fully, or are they wet and wrinkled?
It's hard enough to motivate yourself to do a load of laundry, but when you're limited to the not-so-great washers and dryers of your apartment or local laundromat, you may be left with not-so-great results.
Instead of settling for the best of a worst-case scenario, take your laundry matters into your own hands. Even if you live in a small apartment or a condo, you have options.
1. Brush up on the basics—or learn them, if this is your first time
If you're a laundry virgin, don't sweat it. Doing your laundry correctly does require some steps, but they're easy to grasp and no one's judging. Before you even get a shirt wet, make sure you check your clothing's wash and dry labels, understand what care symbols mean, sort and separate, and pretreat any stains. Then pick the best machine cycle for whatever you want to wash and get to it.
Lastly, once the wash is done, you'll need to figure out whether or not to machine dry your clothes. Our guide on how to do laundry will get you there.
2. Buy a better hamper
Laundry hampers can be overflowing beasts that live in closets, bathrooms, bedrooms, washrooms, anywhere, really. When they're exploding stinking clothes, they're not pretty to look at it. Buying a new hamper—one that actually looks nice—will compel you to engage with your laundry more often.
From contemporary cotton stripes and natural-looking woven rope to a slim rolling basket that says "Laundry" and a sectioned rolling laundry sorter, you can find something to fit your space and your personal style.
If you've got a messy job or hobby, or you simply get your clothes sweaty and gross with relative frequency, you may want to consider a laundry basket with holes, since this sort of design offers more airflow.
3. Invest in a washer and dryer that makes sense for your space
No matter where you live or what your budget is, buying large appliances, like a washing machine and a dryer, is a 10-year investment. So, you'll want to do this right.
First off, put in the time to research washers and dryers that will work for your space and lifestyle. We've tested thousands of washing machines and dryers in our labs, and have rankings for the best washers overall, the best dryers overall, and the best matching pairs.
If you live in a small space, you may want to check out compact washers and compact, ventless dryers, which make machine placement a whole lot easier because you can move them around and hide them when you're not using them.
For compact washers, we rate the Miele WWH860WCS at our No. 1, but the high-end machine also quite expensive; for a more budget buy, try the Electrolux EFLS210TIW. And, for a compact, ventless dryer the Bosch 500 Series is a good bet, especially since you don't need to hook up a dryer vent.
4. Pick a quality, dependable laundry detergent
Laundry detergent doesn't usually come cheap, and even when it does, there's no guarantee that it'll get the job done effectively. We took matters into our own hands, or rather, our own lab, and tested all the leading laundry detergents on the market right now. We found that Persil ProClean does the best overall job, and Tide Original will give you the best bang for your buck.
If being friendlier to the environment is a priority, we also tested the best eco-friendly laundry detergents.
What we don't recommend, however, are unusual and/or do-it-yourself laundry detergents. For more on that, check out our research into alternative laundry detergents.
5. Don't go overboard—with clothes or detergent
Laundry costs add up quickly, and it's always tempting to wring the most out of every load. But please, don't overload your washing machine—and definitely don't compensate for this by adding more detergent to the mix.
We tested the effect of using too much detergent, and, spoiler alert: The results were not good. Adding too much detergent isn't just a waste of money, it's also a good way to ruin the look of your favorite slacks.
And although you might be tempted to cram a few extra sweaters into the washing machine to get them clean in time for the weekend, doing so could mess with your machine's ability to properly rinse your clothes.
6. Go beyond the High drying cycle
The types of dryers you can expect to find in an apartment building or laundromat are usually the type that forgo a wide array of settings in favor of basic "high," "medium," and "low" heat options. In this case, and if you care about the longevity of your clothes, dry everything on the lowest heat setting that'll still get the job done.
However, if you have your own dryer, you likely have many more cycle options. Learn how each one specifically dries your clothes, and figure out which items of your clothing you can actually put in a dryer. Alternatively, you'll want to let delicate fabrics air dry.
Wool dryer balls, which reduce drying time, fluff and soften fabrics and are better for your skin (and the environment).
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