#1. Wash on warm. Max.
Unless you’re washing a rug your dog crapped on, washing on hot is unnecessary. In fact, washing on cold usually gets the job done, and it’s often what the tag instructs you to do on “nicer” clothes. Such as the stuff guys visiting this site might purchase. Heat is not nice to natural fibers.
#2. Dry on medium. Max.
Again, heat is not nice to natural fibers. Read the tag. If it says tumble dry low? Tumble dry low. If it says to reshape and let air dry? Reshape the thing and let it dry on a clean bit of carpet. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a guy. And as guys, we often confuse “speed” with “efficiency.” Which is why many of us have dropped a bag of groceries or a gallon of milk when trying to muscle a week’s worth of groceries up the stairs to our apartment in one trip. Fast doesn’t count for squat if the end result is ruin.
#3. Separate your loads.
You should not be washing your workout gear with your dress shirts. Not only do you want to separate your lights from darks to avoid color transfer (a pretty basic laundry strategy most know), you want to separate your clothes based on washing/drying temperature and/or soil level. See below:
Clockwise from top left: Nice lights (cold wash), Nice Darks (cold wash),
Regular darks (cold or warm wash), Junk/Workout gear (warm wash)
#4. Always check your pockets and collars pre-wash.
The reason is obvious. We’ve all sent a pen or a spent piece of gum or a pair of metal collar stays through the wash only to see the damage that’s done on the other side. The key here is pre-wash. NOT PRE HAMPER. Yes, checking your pockets and taking out your collar stays at the end of the day is a good habit to get into. But sometimes we can be too rushed (or too, well… let’s just say on Friday and Saturday nights one might not be as attentive when getting undressed) at the end of a long day to check thoroughly enough. So check your pockets and collars as you sort your laundry.
#5. Don’t Overload the washer or dryer.
Remember: Speed does not = efficiency. So while more loads might take more time, your clothes will actually get clean. Don’t stuff a washer so full that hardly an atom could sneak between garments. The washer can’t do the work without some space for the water and detergent to slosh around in.
#6. For Ironables, dry 90% of the way then iron after.
This might be more of an advanced technique, but still worth mentioning. Ironing a slightly damp shirt is much, much easier than ironing a shirt that’s got wrinkles baked in by a hot dryer (also, see #2… don’t dry on hot). It takes a bit of planning to iron your stuff fresh and moist (ew) from the dryer, but it makes everything quite a bit easier. Remember, you want slightly damp. Not soaking wet. A blazing hot iron on soaking wet clothes can do real damage.
A little moisture goes a long way to making ironing easier.
#7. Leave the washer door slightly ajar if instructed to.
Read the instructions that are right around the washer’s door frame. Many washers instruct you to leave the door slightly ajar. It allows residual moisture to evaporate, instead of turning into musty stank.
#8. Stop using antiperspirant. Start using deodorant.
No, they are NOT the same thing. And those yellow stains you get on your shirts aren’t caused by sweat. Those stains are caused by the aluminum that antiperspirants use to plug up your sweat glands. So, if you want to skip those stains, make the switch.
#9. Gym clothes stink? Use white vinegar.
Here’s why. I’ll put a few tablespoons in the “liquid bleach” reservoir with my gym clothes loads, and if my gear really stinks, I’ll splash a couple “glugs” from the jug into the tub with my shirts & shorts before I close the door.
Neutralizes workout gear stank. Yes really.
#10. Dry Clean Less. Like, a lot less.
Dry cleaning is really rough on clothes. Especially suits with some sort of fusing inside the jacket. Unless you’ve been through bachelor party hell in it (or, it actually stinks/has some sort of stain on it) skip the dry cleaner. And that goes for more than just suits. Wool sweaters? I probably have my sweaters dry cleaned a couple times a season, max. Lucky enough to own something made of cashmere? Learn how to hand wash it.
#11. Understand that laundromats have serious limitations.
If doing laundry requires loading up on quarters, that means you’re working with equipment built to handle an enormous workload. And the washers and dryers in most laundromats lack subtlety. Most of them wash and dry on nuclear hot. Which, isn’t good (see #1 and #2). Drastically reduce drying times. Wash on cold. You’ll get the hang of it. Just know that laundromats/the washer & dryer in the basement of your complex might be more of a blunt instrument that needs to be wielded with a bit more care.
#12. Know what DOESN’T get thrown in a washing machine and/or dryer.
Some cotton sportcoats will say they’re machine washable on the tag. I don’t care. Don’t do it. You risk losing the shape of the thing when the agitator starts smashing into the shoulders and chest. Same goes with nice wool sweaters. You might be tempted to try the gentle cycle, but if it looks and feels like it should be handled by a pro? Give it to a pro.