If you presort your clothes before washing, use hampers to make the process easier. Three simple canvas or mesh baskets on a shelf — for bright colors, darks, and whites — can help you keep dirty laundry organized for washing, keep the clothes off the floor, and make sure that dirty clothes never find their way into piles of clean laundry waiting to be folded.
If items are made of silk, satin, or chiffon, use the delicate, hand wash, or gentlest cycle, cold water, and a mild detergent like Woolite. Select the shortest spin cycle and dry items flat, away from sunlight.
When a garment is very precious and you feel like you would be devastated if it were ruined, break down and take it to the dry cleaners.
Your best laundry pal is a mesh bag: Put delicates inside it before washing to prevent them from catching on the washer’s drum machine or other garments.
The more you sort, the cleaner your clothes will be. First, read the care labels. Then sort clothing by washing method, color and type of fabric.
Turn clothing items inside out to prevent fading and reduce pilling.
Wash bulky items (like bed linens) in one load and small items (like socks or underwear) in another.
Shake out damp items before placing them in the dryer to help reduce wrinkling and ensure that garments will dry completely.
Keep hangers near the ironing board. Hang shirts and other permanent-press items on them as soon as they come out of the dryer so that you won’t have to iron them. Use a wall- or door-mounted folding hanging rod or a hanging stand to keep shirts in order until you put them away.
Once they’re out of the wash, avoid putting bras in the dryer — heat wreaks havoc on their construction. Smooth out lumps or dents in padded cups. Then, drape bras over coat hangers (or lay flat) to dry.
If your iron’s soleplate has a brown or sticky residue, it’s most likely from man-made fibers singed by a too-hot iron. Spend a few bucks for a tube of iron cleanser, which does a good job and will last for years.
In a rush? Handheld steamers dewrinkle your clothing right on the hanger. They’re best for soft fabrics (like cotton jersey), garments that are difficult to press (like a suit jacket), and certainly for travel. What they struggle with are sharp creases and crisp fabrics, like dress shirts. The best ones produce ample, continuous steam and are lightweight and easy to maneuver.