Laundry 101

A great resource for your college-bound teen or a refresher for home, this laundry 101 article offers washing tips and fabric care info to help keep your clothes looking their best.

Laundry Detergent

The type of washing machine you have dictates the type of laundry detergent you need. High-efficiency and front-loading washers require low-sudsing, high-efficiency laundry detergent, while traditional top-loading machines require stronger, conventional detergent. It’s also important to decide whether you want to use a liquid, powder or pod detergent. Powders tend to be less expensive but messier to use, while pods are more convenient but will cost a little more money. Liquids combine price-point and ease-of-use in a happy medium. Detergent also comes in a variety of different formulas, from optical brighteners to bleach alternatives, and with different scents including un-scented formulas and baby laundry detergent that is safe and gentle for your little one’s outfits.

Fabric Softener

Fabric softener keeps clothes soft and static free. It’s available in liquid, sheets, and bars. Liquid fabric softener is added to the washing machine during the rinse cycle. Dryer sheets are added when clothes are placed in the dryer; dryer bars attach to the inside of the dryer and release small amounts of softener during each drying cycle. Spiky, plastic dryer balls can also be used as a chemical-free means of softening clothes, although they are not as effective in controlling static. Like detergent, fabric softener is available in a range of scents including fragrance-free. You should never use fabric softeners on flame-retardant clothing such as baby sleepwear as it can build up over time and interfere with the fabric’s flame-resistant properties. 

Stain Removal

Stain removers are available to help remove dirt, spots and smudges from your clothes. Pre-wash stain removers are applied to spots on clothing before they are put into the washer. In-wash laundry boosters are added to the washing machine during the wash cycle. Instant stain removers are applied immediately to remove fresh food and drink stains, and typically come in convenient, travel-sized applicators. There are even baby stain removers that specifically help treat stains on infant clothing.

Laundry tips:

  • Keep pod laundry detergent packets can away from young children: they can mistake their colourful look for candy
  • Pre-sort laundry into laundry baskets by fabric type and colour
  • Close zippers and hooks, and check pockets before washing
  • Don’t overload the washer or dryer
  • Use the proper laundry soap for your machine
  • Use the proper amount of detergent
  • Always clean the dryer lint screen after every cycle

Fabric Care

Different types of fabrics require different methods of care. Always check the garment label and follow the fabric care symbol or instructions to protect your clothes and ensure they stay looking great wash after wash.

Washing & Drying

Machine Washing
The machine wash symbol or instructions indicate that a garment can go through the regular laundry cycles safely. These instructions will generally outline whether hot, warm or cold water temperatures are preferred. A cold water laundry detergent can help you get great results when washing clothes in colder temperatures. Wash instructions may also indicate whether the permanent press cycle (cold rinse and shorter spin cycle) or the gentle cycle (shorter cycle with less agitation) is recommended. Delicate fabrics may feature hand-wash only instructions, indicating that it is not safe to wash them in the machine.
Tumble Dry
These instructions indicate fabrics can be safely placed in the dryer and are typically accompanied by suggested temperature settings that can range from hot, normal, medium, or low. Drying instructions may also recommend the permanent press vs. gentle setting, along with steps to take to avoid cloth shrinkage.
Do Not Tumble Dry
These instructions indicate that garments should not be placed in a machine dryer, and they typically come with recommendations for alternate drying care.
Special Drying Instructions
Some garments require special drying techniques to avoid clothes shrinkage, pilling and other fabric damage. The “Dry Line” symbol or recommendation indicates that you should hang the garment on a clothes line to dry. The “Dry Flat” recommendation is often found on woolen and delicate fabrics, and indicates that clothing should be shaped and laid out on a drying rack.


Bleach can help keep your white clothes white. Bleaching instructions are typically found on most clothing, and indicate garments may be bleached as needed, can be bleached with colour-safe products only, or should not be bleached at all.

Ironing and Steaming

Irons and clothes steamers can keep your outfits looking well-pressed and free of wrinkles. Ironing instructions and symbols will indicate if a garment can be ironed and whether hot, medium or low temperatures should be used. A ‘Do Not Iron’ symbol or recommendation indicates it is not safe to iron a particular fabric.

Dry Cleaning

A dry cleaning symbol indicates that clothing should be brought to a professional for cleaning. Dry cleaning may not be appropriate for some material and will feature a special symbol or instructions to indicate this recommendation.

Eco-friendly laundry tips:

  • Look for eco-friendly detergents and fabric softeners with biodegradable ingredients
  • Wash full loads rather than smaller loads
  • Use cold water when possible as hot water requires more energy for heating
  • To reduce drying times, sort clothing by fabric type for even drying
  • Don’t overfill the dryer to ensure proper air circulation
  • Consider using a dryer ball to soften fabric
  • Save on energy by using a drying rack or clothes line to dry clothes
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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