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clothes in a clothes hamper Someone once said "Clothes make the man," and chances are you spend lots of time thinking about yours.  In order to extend the life of your clothes, you have to know a bit about how to care for them.

First of all, read the care label on your clothing.  The label will tell you what the clothing is made out of, as well as how it should be cleaned.  The fabric care label will tell you whether the item should be dry-cleaned, hand-washed, or washed by machine.  If the item is machine washable, the label will tell you what cycle to wash it in, as well as what temperature the water should be.

woman washing clothes in a washing machine If you would like your clothes to stay looking new through repeated machine washings, the first thing to do is sort them correctly into piles.  One pile should be for whites, another for light-colored clothing and pastels, and another for dark-colored clothing.  Continue to sort those piles into smaller piles, based on the amount of soiling.  Heavily soiled items should be grouped together, while items with less soiling can also be grouped together.

Once your clothing is properly sorted, you can attack heavily soiled garments by pre-treating any stains.  While soaps and detergents can be worked into the garments to lift stains, there are many spot and stain removing products on the market that are more convenient to use.

To get the best results from your washing machine, you must know how to use it properly.  Select the water temperature based on the item's care label and the color of the clothing.  Light colors can safely be washed in warm water, while darker clothing should be washed in cold water to prevent the running of colors.  Choose a water level that allows the clothing to circulate without wasting water and energy.  Finally, select the cycle and length of washing time based on the type of load you are washing and the amount of soil.

clothes drying on a clothesline Once your clothes are washed, should you air dry them or use a machine to dry them?  Both are good methods, and whichever you choose depends upon your preference.  Using a dryer will make your clothes soft and almost wrinkle-free, while allowing your clothes to dry on the line will save energy.  Many people also love the fresh scent of line-dried clothing!

With the right care, you can extend the life of your clothing.  Be sure you know how to properly operate your washer and dryer, and make a practice of reading the manufacturers' fabric care labels.

Clothes Care Resources

  • Laundry Tips
    This U.S. Department of Energy article features a series of washing machine and dryer energy-saving tips.
    www.Energy.gov
  • Efficient Clothes Washing
    Learn how to select energy-efficient clothes washers and dryers.  Read about optimizing load size, using lower temperature settings, and reducing drying time to improve your clothes laundering operation's energy efficiency.
    www.ACEEE.org

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Laundering Clothes - How To Wash Clothes