This week is Back to Laundry Basics at Mama’s Laundry Talk.
If you were never taught the proper way to wash laundry or if you just need a refresher, this series is for you!
Make sure you don’t miss the other posts in this series!
- Laundry Basics: How to Sort Clothes
- Laundry Basics: How to Choose the Washing Cycle
- Laundry Basics: Choosing Water Temperature
Next in Back to Basics we’re talking about how to determine the right size for a load of laundry and actually starting the washing machine.
Determining the size of a load of laundry can be a mystery. Do you fill the machine to the brim? How do you know when it’s full enough to be considered a ‘good’ load? Can you wash just a few items at the time?
These are all very good questions, and some of the answers can vary from machine to machine.
Overcrowding the Washing Machine
It’s hard not to overcrowd the machine, it seems. You’ve loaded the washer and there are 3 shirts left out. Surely they’ll all fit, right? That King Size comforter will definitely fit. Maybe?
Overcrowding is never a good idea. An overcrowded load will absolutely not come clean (I proved this to myself again just last weekend).
Clothes need a certain amount of room in the washer to move around. This way, the clothes are subjected to a sufficient amount of water and detergent. This extra room also causes them to move against each other, and that abrasion helps get them clean as well. If the clothes aren’t subjected to enough water the dirt, grime, sweat and detergent cannot possibly be released from the fabric.
And all of that equals dingy, still dirty clothes.
Overcrowding can cause clothes to wrinkle since there is not enough room in the drum of the washer for them to move around.
When you move your clothes from the washer to the dryer and every single item is wrinkled, it is a sure sign you’ve overloaded the machine.
Lastly, overloading can cause your clothes to pill more readily. When overcrowded, the clothes rub against each other too much and this abrasion causes them to look older faster and to pill.
How Full Should the Washing Machine Be?
For all of the following load sizes, keep in mind that these are loosely packed clothes in the washer. If you have to push your clothes down to make room for more in the washer…then you’ve got way too many in there.
A Small Load usually fills about 1/3 of your machine.
A Medium Load fills the machine to about 1/2 full.
A Large Load is around 3/4 full.
The more often you use your machine, the easier it will be to judge when a load is too full.
If you are using a top-loader this matters in that you might have the option to select the load size. If you are using a front-loader this won’t matter much at all since the washer senses the load and adjusts the water as it sees fit.
Which Load Should You Wash First?
If I’m backed up in laundry and I’ve got 5 piles waiting to be washed, my first load to wash is the one that is most needed. 😉
If everyone is out of underwear and socks, then the whites are the first to go in. If no one has jeans, they get top priority. Even if you have 3 loads of towels to wash, it does no good to wash those first if there are no shirts clean.
If you have a small water heater or if hot water is an issue in any way, then make sure you wash your loads that require warm or hot water first. You don’t want to get stuck at the end of the loads washing white t-shirts in cold water. This is not a good combo.
How to Actually Start the Washing Machine
So once you are confident that you’re ready for your load to go in the machine, you have to add your detergent and laundry boosters (if you use them).
In a top-loader, it is best to add your detergent and laundry boosters first. Then select the cycle and water temperature you want to use. The detergent needs time to dissolve before adding clothes. If it doesn’t dissolve, it can potentially lighten random areas on your garments which is definitely not what you want. This is especially true with laundry boosters, so make sure they are dissolved thoroughly before you add clothes.
Once dissolved, you can briefly turn the flow of water off (usually by pulling the dial out) and then load your clothes. Until you can see what a full load of clothes looks like in your machine, it’s helpful to learn with the water off. With the water gushing in, it packs the clothes down which can make it hard to tell when the load is full. Remember that you don’t want to overload the machine. Once you are happy with the size of the load, turn the water back on (push the dial back in) and let the washer do its thing.
If you have a front-loader, adding detergent is a little easier since there is a designated place to put it. Load your clothes first. Then add your detergent and laundry boosters in their assigned spot. Wait to select the cycle until after you’ve closed the door to the machine. Most front-loader doors lock automatically once you’ve selected the cycle and pressed ‘start.’
Questions about load size or how to actually start the machine? Ask away in the comments….