General comment/question on laundry sorting

mlrprincetonJuly 18, 2014

We moved to a house from a condo where I had been using a Thin Twin apartment sized stacked washer/dryer. The condo's washing machine was something like 1.5 cubic feet.. for a family of 4 including a baby. Needless to say I did a load of laundry every day.

For the new house we just bought a Samsung 5 cu ft washer and something like 7 cu ft dryer. Hark, the herald angels sing! What to do with all my new-found free time that I used to spend doing laundry?! These babies can fit all of everyone's clothes for the week in one load, no exaggeration, and everything comes out clean.

So my question is about sorting. Used to be, when I'd have to do so many tiny loads of laundry, I'd sort everything into microscopic piles--just towels, just the baby's clothes, just 2 sheets, haha.

Now that everything can fit in at once, it defeats the point of having big machines if I have to wash small separate piles again.
So do those of you who have machines like mine or even bigger ones do all this sorting business? If so, how is that practical if it takes weeks to even have enough of each type of laundry to fill one load? Chances are, someone is going to want a favorite shirt or a pair of gym shorts or their flower sheets long before you get to enough of that kind of laundry. Do you dump everything in all together? It doesn't seem to hurt anything as long as you don't bleach and there's nothing too delicate. How much sorting should I do?

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Reasonable sorting should be done regardless of the machine's uber-capacity ... fabric weight (denims vs. poly-synthetics), color bleeding (reds & blacks & denims vs whites & others), suitable temperature (hot for whites), chlorine bleach or no, type of item (bulky quilts or comforters, sheets). Etc.

People get these huge machines and end up running as much as will fit together in a full load so as to make use of the capacity ... select a "moderate" cycle and cold water so as to avoid subjecting anything to a non-favorable washing process ... then end up complaining and blame the machine when their clothes eventually look icky and the machine reeks of mold/odor.

This post was edited by dadoes on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 17:11

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:02PM
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My wife and I don't sort our laundry by color for the most part. Just regulars and delicates. We never feel the need to fill the whole washer, but we do it that way more to save the effort sorting and the time that would be required for multiple loads. And if we sorted like the labels and the washer manual said - whites, darks, colors, regular/delicate, heavy soil/medium soil/light soil - oh god! That would make laundry so much more onerous.

Obviously, common sense still applies - if you go the non-sorting route you still need to avoid things like tossing a BRAND NEW bright red shirt into a load full of whites. Otherwise, we get great results and no dirty clothes or stinky washer (have been doing it this way for a long time and with front loaders too) like some would have you believe. And as dadoes said, no cold water for everything!

That said, I can't *recommend* doing that, and I have to agree with dadoes' advice on this one. Your mileage may very and due to many variables not everyone will have the same luck as I do skipping sorting. Just adding a different perspective that it is sometimes possible to get away without sorting.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 17:50

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:47PM
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Our LG top load HE 5.0 cu ft washer just died and we replaced it with a 3.3 cu ft. Speed Queen.

For a two adult family household, this was the best decision for us because I never filled the 5.0 cu. ft drum unless it was with our queen quilt, or 3 weeks worth of bath and kitchen towels (or if guests were over with extra towel use).

My husband was constantly running out of white undershirts because I would try to save enough whites to make a decent sized load- he owns about 18 undershirts!

I am not sure about the Samsung, but the LG was constantly getting off balance with my smaller loads- and I had to have a drum half full to get through a cycle without rebalancing.

My point here is, check your cycles, and see if the smaller loads rebalance frequently (the LG would flash the code UE, add extra water and agitate a bit to try to redistribute the clothing- this defeats the purpose of having an HE in my opinion- sometimes it would try to reblance a load 3 or 4 times in a cycle!).

If your loads are making it through a cycle okay without getting off balance, your load sizes are okay, I think, and continue like you are and whatever sorting you are comfortable with- no need to fill the drum. If your cycles are getting off balance, like mine were in the LG, then increase your load size.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Sorting is more about preventing problems than anything else. Color run is almost irreversible. Lint on dark laundry just plain sucks. How about unhygienic? Throwing kitchen towels in with underwear is disgusting...and then washing on cold makes it worse. The most basic sorting I would EVER recommend is Whites/Lights in one load, Darks/Brights/Jeans in another, and all toweling in another. Frankly, sheets should be washed alone, for better results. Sorting is such a pet peeve of is more important than detergent selection or water temperature, IMHO.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:32PM
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The laundering instructions in clothes seem to be written by lawyers or customer-relations types. If I followed them, I'd be washing almost everything using cold water on the delicate cycle, and nothing would get very clean. As it is, I usually wash at 120F (nice having thermostatic controls and a 240v internal water heater!) and the fastest spin available (1200rpm). Fading and shrinking/expansion haven't been a problem. I try to separate whites but that's not always possible - really don't care except for dress shirts. I do like to do bed linens separately (otherwise small items mixed with them get rolled up in the sheets and don't get washed well), and towels and other bulky items get their own wash when possible. If the latter isn't possible, I will sometimes dry the heavy items for 5-10 minutes before inserting the lighter clothes so they all get dry at the same time.

> How about unhygienic? Throwing kitchen towels in with underwear is disgusting...and then washing on cold makes it worse.

I had a friend who lived in a Lustron house, one of these small, prefabricated, easily built, and very cool-looking homes that were popular immediately after WWII, which used standardized designs and innovative building techniques to make the best use of a small space. One of these space-savers they all included was a combination dishwasher/clothes washer (!). I always wondered if their guests wouldn't mind knowing their plates, utensils, and glasses were washed in the same machine as the owner's undies.....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 3:14PM
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