How to Separate Your Laundry Before Washing

We all know how it feels to have a full laundry basket which you have to sort and separate out.

And then we all know how it feels when this batch of laundry gets put off because you don’t know how to separate clothes properly or just can’t be bothered to sort through it… but there are ways to make it easier for yourself!

QUICK TIP: Use carrier bags or drawstring fabric bags for each “type” of washing, so you can keep everything in order as you go.

A bag will also help make sure you don’t overload the machine; if it doesn’t fit into the bag, it won’t fit in the washer. Of course, you’ll have to gauge the weight based on your washing machine’s capacity.

Here is the guide to anyone who has asked themselves the question “how do I separate my laundry”?

Separating laundry into colors

This is the most simple way to organize your laundry and will help to keep your clothes the same shade as when they go into the wash.

If you have a huge family and a whole lot of washing to do, then you can probably separate your laundry into each of the rainbow colors and beyond; but if your laundry pile looks a bit less varied, then here are some ideas for color groups to wash together safely.

QUICK TIP: Firstly, let us point out, that if you have a new item of clothing which is brightly colored or dark, then this should be washed with items of similar if not the same color to avoid dying your white shirts a funny shade of pink.

There are color catching sheets that will help when washing multiple colors at the same time, however, we still think it’s best to split your laundry by color.

Black and Greys

These dark colors are best kept together in the wash, as sometimes lighter clothes can start to turn a shade of grey if washed with black or grey items; not a nice grey, it tends to look more like it’s old and a bit stained.

If dark clothes have been washed many, many times, it may be safe to pop them in with other colors if you really need something washed but don’t have enough to do a dark wash.

White, Beiges and Creams

Lighter colors wash well together, as there is little to no pigment in the clothing. Keeping white separate from bright and dark colors will increase the longevity of your garment’s life; white will stay white longer and your clothes will continue to look new for longer.

We’ve all heard the age old mistake of one red sock going into the white wash and ending up with pink undies and pink shirts, so try to avoid doing anything like this!

Pinks, Reds, Oranges

The warm tones in these colors should wash really well together, as each color’s base is actually red anyway. Baby pinks and pastels should be kept out of the wash if brighter items have not been washed yet, as some color may transfer and change the look of your lighter clothes.

Oranges and Yellows

Lighter oranges that might be a bit closer to yellow can be washed with anything from mustard to buttercup yellow.

The closer the orange color is to red, the better off it would be in the wash with pink and red garments. Lighter yellows could also be washed with beige or cream items.

Yellows and Greens

These two colors come in so many shades, however, some of these are good washing buddies; bright or neon yellow works well with anything from lime to khaki green.

A really dark green color, will probably be better going in with a dark wash unless it has been washed many times.

Greens, Blues and Purples

Another shade of green can be more towards turquoise, and therefore should be washed with blue colors. If you are washing dark or indigo denim jeans, washing these with darker blues and purples to avoid any color mixing/staining.
Most of the time, turquoise, blue and purple can be washed together safely.

Lilacs can wash well with light grey items also, so this is another option for separating your laundry.


As we mentioned before, lilac is fine to wash with light greys; in fact, most pastel colors should be ok sharing a wash with a light grey item. Since pastels are light in color, but not quite white, they should be kept together as so to avoid any color accidents.

Once pastel items have been washed a few times, they should be fine to put in with white clothing and cause no color transfer.

QUICK TIP: If you’re washing striped clothing, it might be best to pop in a color catching sheet to help prevent any transference.

A simplified way to sort your laundry into colors, is to separate lights, darks and whites then within these color categories, you can separate your laundry into fabric types.

Separating laundry into fabrics

If color is not an issue, but you have a lot of different fabrics in your closet, then grouping your laundry into fabric type is another great way to organize before washing.

Some say that this is the best way to organize your laundry period; as certain fabrics are more abrasive than others and can cause friction between clothing.

To keep your silks silky smooth and your stretches stretchy, separate your laundry by fabric type.

As a general rule, it is best to separate your laundry into; synthetics and synthetic blends, cottons and linens then delicates.

If you have pure silk or silk-mix items, these should be washed with products (cleaning agents) that are specifically for this type of fabric. The same can be said about wool items which can be tricky to clean; washing wool with heat can cause the garment to shrink and felt, which is not what you want for your favourite winter coat!

QUICK TIP: Always check the tag in your garment. This will tell you how this item is supposed to be washed; at what temperature, whether it needs to be hand washed etc.

Another great way to separate your laundry by fabric is to keep it super simple and wash heavy and light items separately. Not only does this make sense, but it could actually save you money, as washing items with similar weighted fabrics will ensure an even wash which can be a cold wash too!

Heavy items together may need a longer wash to make sure your towels and denim come out clean, just make sure not to overload your washing machine.

Separating laundry in this way is also great when you come to use the drier, as lighter clothes will dry much faster, therefore saving money.

Lightweight Fabrics:

Including: chiffon, mesh, voile, lace, georgette, linen, crepe, thin cotton, cheesecloth


Items which contain elastane should not be washed with fabric softener, or at least with a small amount. Fabric softener can reduce the elastane fabrics ability to bounce back; leaving saggy knees in leggings and stretched out sweaters.


If you use a mesh bag or pillowcase to hold your delicates while they are in the wash, this will help to keep them safe from damage that can occur during the wash. Delicates will include; bras and underwear made from fabrics such as lace, mesh or other thin fabrics, dress tops, hosiery, sequined items, items with ribbons or embellished details, cashmere and thin knits.

There are several different options on different brands of washing machine to make sure you wash your delicates safely.

Midweight Fabrics:

Including: velvet, taffeta, charmeuse, sateen

Choosing which category

When washing midweight fabrics, you may want to decide which category the fabric is closest to; light or heavy and also consider the size of the garment/item.


Smaller items, for example a pair of stretch velvet leggings would probably go in with the lightweight wash, whereas a velvet blazer jacket would be better off with the heavier fabrics. Turning velvet inside out can help with the longevity of the fabric.

Similar to velvet, how you wash most medium weight fabrics should be based on the size of the garment you are washing.

Heavyweight Fabrics:

Including: upholstery, brocade, denim, canvas, tweed, towelling


The best way to wash jeans and denims is to turn them inside out; do this as you are sorting your clothing into bags or piles for the wash.


Where possible, wash towels separately from your clothing. They can be very heavy things to wash, especially when wet, so keeping them to their own wash is much better than breaking your washing machine with too much weight.


In some cases, upholstery should be washed by hand in situ, but certain types can be removed and placed in the wash. As with towels, it would be best to wash your upholstery separately from other items.

QUICK TIP: Always check the pockets of any clothes! You do NOT want to find you’ve washed money, your iPod, an important letter… or any tissues… they cause such a mess in the wash.

Of course, the heavy vs. light method does not mean you should put that new bright red t-shirt into the wash with your best white shirt; always keep clothes that aren’t colorfast separate, or you could be dying your best clothes a lovely shade of pink!

So, now you know the different ways to separate your laundry, you can choose which suits you and your routine best. Happy laundering!