Laundry 101 – the perfect guide on how to do laundry

If you’ve ever wanted a comprehensive guide to refer to whenever you have a quick question about dosing washing powder or liquid detergent, sorting your laundry before washing, protecting your garments, or certain fabric care labels, this is your place to be.


Comprehensive guide on how to do laundry

Understanding wash care symbols

Wash care symbols may look very confusing at first, but we promise, they’ll become second nature over time. Until then, use this guide as a cheat sheet before every wash. It’ll help you see what care your clothes need to stay looking their best for as long as possible.

Wash symbols:

These tell you if your garment can be washed in the washer and what water temperature you should use.

water temperatures

Bleach symbols:

Watch out for these when using bleach, because some garments can’t handle it.


Drying symbols:

These will tell you how to dry your clothes without damaging them.


Ironing symbols:

Some clothes can be ironed, some can’t, and some need a special temperature setting.


Dry cleaning symbols:

Some garments must be handled by dry cleaning professionals, so make sure to advise them on these instructions.


Learn more about wash care symbols, or download our cheat sheet and put it on your wall to make laundry easier.

How to sort laundry like a pro

Sorting laundry accurately is just as important as knowing how to wash your garments. Here are some methods you can use to ensure excellent results:

Colour shades

Separate darker shades from lighter ones, as dye from dark fabrics can ruin lighter colours. Put greys, blacks, navies, reds, dark purples, and similar colours to one pile, and pinks, lavenders, light blues, light greens, and yellows to another.

Fabric weight

Lighter fabrics need to be protected from damage in the drum, so wash heavier items, like towels and bedsheets separately from lighter ones, like everyday clothes.

Fabric type

Different fabrics can require different wash temperatures, so you should wash more delicate pieces of clothing separately from the more durable ones. The same applies to items with zips or buttons and knitwear and lingerie.

Level of dirtiness

Heavily soiled items may need longer cycles to be properly cleaned, so it’s best if you wash them separately from less soiled items.

For a more in-depth look, check out our guide on sorting your laundry.

How to pre-treat different kinds of stains

Pre-treating stains helps loosen up the stain particles embedded deep inside the fabric of your clothes, making washing them easier afterwards. There are two ways to tackle this: with liquid detergent or a soaking solution.

water is good

Here’s how you can pre-treat some of the most common stain types:

Coffee, tea, berry, or sweat stains:

Pour liquid detergent or a mixture of water and powder detergent directly onto the stain, rub the fabric together to work the detergent deep into the fibres, then let the garment sit like this for a few minutes.

Dirt or motor oil stains:

Fill up a sink or bucket with water and mix it with Ariel Liquid Detergent. Let your garments soak for 30 minutes before washing.

Greasy stains like butter, margarine, and cooking oil:

Rub dish detergent onto the stain, then pre-treat the stained area with Ariel Liquid Detergent for 10-15 minutes.

Protein-based stains, like blood and baby poop:

Get rid of the excess, then pour liquid detergent onto the stain, and leave it for 30 minutes.

How to dose detergent correctly

To ensure you get the same, excellent laundry results every single time, first, you need to know what type of detergent you will need. There are detergents specifically developed for fully automatic washers, semi-automatic washers and hand wash, top-load, and front-load washing machines. Then, you need to know how much laundry detergent to use. There are usually three deciding factors when it comes to finding the ideal dosage: How heavily soiled your garments are, what type of washing machine you have, and how hard the water is in your area.

Ariel laundry detergents are available in capsule, liquid and powder forms. You can find the correct dosing method printed on the package of every Ariel detergent, or you can check out our quick guide:

How to dose Ariel PODS

Simply place one capsule into the empty washing machine drum, add your clothes on top, select the proper wash cycle based on the garment’s fabric care label, and start your wash. Ariel Matic 4-in-1 PODS can be used in both top- and front-load automatic washing machines. Read our detailed guide for dosing with PODS for further information.

Different Sizes

How to dose Ariel Matic Liquid

You can use Ariel Matic Liquid for both top-load and front-load fully automatic washers. Simply dose by using the detergent cap, and pour the laundry detergent into the drawer of your washing machine. Read our detailed guide on how to dose Ariel Matic Liquid for further information.

How to dose liquid

How to dose Ariel Washing Powder

You can use Ariel Washing Powder for hand washing clothes, front- and top-load washers, and semi-automatic washers. Simply measure out the correct dose using the scoop provided with the detergent. Read our detailed guide to learn more about dosing Ariel Washing Powder.

How to dose powder

Find the perfect load size for your washing machine

Palm trick

Finding the perfect load size is important, as it can lead to cleaner clothes, and less time and energy spent on laundry. To avoid overloading your washer, use the palm trick: If you can fit your palm between the drum of your machine and the clothes, you’re good to go. If your hand doesn’t fit, it’s time to take a few items out.

How do I know my laundry size?

  • Medium or regular load. If your drum is half full, you have a medium load (about 3 kgs).

  • Large load. If the drum is three-quarters full, you’re dealing with a large load (about 5 kgs).

  • Extra-large load. If your palm just about fits inside the drum, you have an extra-large load (about 9kgs).

water is good

Use the Right Wash Cycle

Hand wash
Quick wash


When to use it

To remove dirt and stains from durable fabrics like sheets, towels, whites, heavily soiled items, cotton underwear, and socks.

How it cleans

  • High-agitation wash

  • High-speed spin cycle

  • Adjustable temperature

Do you have a semi-auto washing machine? Follow this guide to decide which setting to use:

  • Gentle wash: delicate fabrics, such as wool or silk

  • Normal wash: regular and coloured clothes

  • Strong wash: heavier, dirtier items

As for determining the length of the cycle, the general rule of thumb is that the more soiled your load is, the longer you should set the machine’s spin timer.

Use the correct wash temperature

Avoid fading colours, bleeding dyes, and shrinking fabrics by following this easy-to-understand wash temperature guide:

Hot wash (60° or above)

When to use it:

Wash items with the toughest stains or those worn by someone who has been sick.


Give your items a deep clean.

60 degrees dial

How to dry clothes

However you decide to dry your clothes, just make sure to remove them from the washing machine as soon as your cycle is finished. The less time your garments spend in the dark and damp environment of your washer’s drum, the lower the chance they’ll develop musty smells.

To decide how you should dry your clothes, follow the symbols on your fabric care labels:


How to hand wash your clothes

For the perfect hand wash results, simply follow these steps:

1. Pick the right detergent

Choose Ariel Washing Powder for outstanding stain removal in one wash.

2. Sort clothes

Separate dark items from white and coloured items. Start with the lighter ones, and move towards the darker shades. Dyed items should be washed completely separately.

3. Fill two tubs

Use deep, wide tubs or sinks, and fill them three-quarters full of lukewarm water.

4. Add detergent

Following the dosing instructions, add detergent to one of the tubs.

5. Wash clothes

Submerge the clothes in the tub with the detergent and move them around with your hands. Don’t rub them to avoid any damage to the fabric. Do this for about three minutes, or until they’re clean.

6. Rinse clothes

Transfer the clothes to the tub with the clean water and rinse them for two to three minutes to remove any left-over detergent. If the clothes are still soapy, change the water until they’re free from suds.

7. Let the clothes drip and lay flat to dry

Don’t wring the clothes out, as this can damage the fabric. Lift them above the water instead and let them drip. When most of the water is gone, place them on a rack or a clean towel, and leave them to dry flat.

hands washing

How to sanitise your clothes

To get a superb clean and remove bacteria from fabrics, follow our tips and tricks:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds after handling soiled laundry

  • When coming home, change your clothes, and take off any garments that may have been exposed to bacteria

  • Take your clothes off in a room with hard surfaces that are easy to disinfect, and place your dirty laundry directly into the laundry bag

  • Wash your laundry bag regularly, if it’s made of fabric, or wipe it with a disinfecting wipe if it’s plastic

  • Always use the correct amount of laundry detergent, and don’t overload your machine.

Ariel logo
Ariel logo

FAQs on how to do laundry

Do you still have a few blind spots with regards to the art of doing laundry? Find the answers to the most common questions on how to wash clothes!

  • Hand washing is only optimal when it comes to cleaning delicate garments made of cashmere, wool, silk, or raw denim.

  • Washing your clothes by hand is a safe, albeit time consuming way of getting virtually all your fabrics cleaned. If your garments can be washed in a machine, feel free to do so.

  • Typically, a normal wash cycle will last for 50 to 60 minutes, but it can be shorter or longer depending on your load size and the cycles you’ve selected.

  • Doing one large load instead of several small ones will save you both time and energy. If you really need to do a smaller load, make sure to select the appropriate size setting on your washer.

  • Grey is considered a dark colour when doing laundry, and it should be washed together with blacks, navies, and reds.

  • You should separate your clothes into three piles: Bright and pastel-coloured clothes go in one batch, whites in another, and the third pile is for darks.

  • Fill up a bucket or sink with lukewarm water, add a bit of laundry detergent, then submerge your garments. Make sure, however, that they’re suited for prolonged soaking—leather, wool, and silk items are typically no-goes.

  • Using too much detergent in your laundry will lead to excess sudsing inside the drum and unsightly detergent residue on your clothes.

  • Most washing machines have three compartments inside their detergent trays, each one with its own symbol. You pour the powder or liquid detergent inside the slot marked with “II”. The small compartment labelled by a star (*) or a flower is where you should put your fabric softener in, and the medium-sized slot featuring the “I” symbol is called the pre-wash compartment.

  • If you’re doing regular washing, you shouldn’t put detergent directly on clothes. Pour the powder or liquid into the detergent compartment or place the POD at the back of the drum. However, if you’re treating a stubborn stain, you can pour liquid laundry detergent directly on the stain.

  • Yes, but only if you’re using a washing capsule such as Ariel 4in1 PODS. Add one laundry pac at the back of the drum, then place your clothes on top of the detergent.