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Laundry 911: Color care basics

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Keep your clothes clean and bright

Most of us do laundry every week, if not every day. Even if you think you are a laundry expert, you might gain something from reading these tips. Follow these color-care basics to get your clothes clean and bright every time.

Woman doing laundry

Use the right temperature

Cold water is the best choice for delicate fabrics, garments that may shrink, dark colors that might bleed or bright colors that may fade. Most of your clothes should be washed in warm water. Warm water is good for moderately-soiled clothes and most man-made fabrics. Hot water is best suited for heavily-soiled items, whites, towels and linens. Always check the care labels on your clothing to find out the recommended water temperature. If the label is missing or unreadable, remember that cold water is less likely to fade colors or damage fabrics. Also, remember that using cold water is one way to go green in the laundry room.

Select the right detergent

Detergent comes in a variety of formulas these days. To get bright or dark colors clean in cold water, look for a detergent specifically formulated for cold temperatures like Ultra Purex Coldwater detergent. This biodegradable, hypoallergenic detergent delivers powerful cleaning in cold water, plus it's safe for all machines. To get rid of stains in colored clothes, check out their formula with color safe bleach. For stains, add Purex Magic Release Stain Fighter & In-wash Booster to every load to fight stains and protect your colors. If you have kids (or a messy significant other), use liquid detergent rather than powder. Liquids contain enzymes that are tough on stains and help remove food from fabrics. Using the right detergent and laundry cycle can extend the life of your clothes.

Pre-treat stains

For tough stains, you can pre-treat your colored clothes safely with detergent or stain remover. Ground in dirt, oily stains, tomato-based stains and ring around the collar will come out if you take the time to pre-treat. Apply a little detergent and rub the fabric together (or use a soft brush). By applying a little elbow grease, the mechanical action will help release the stain from the fabric's fibers. Allow the detergent or stain remover to work for several minutes before starting the wash cycle. Learn more about stains and how to treat them.

Keep in mind

After the wash cycle, check to see if the stain is gone before throwing the garments in the dryer. Once stains are set by the dryer, they are extremely difficult to get out.

Reduce fading and shrinking

In addition to using cold water and the proper detergent, you can reduce the chance of fading by turning your clothes inside out before washing them. Fabrics that are prone to shrinking, such as knits, should be washed in cold water and hung to dry, rather than using the dryer.

More about laundry

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How to teach your kids to do the laundry
Taking control of your laundry

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