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How to Pre-Soak Laundry

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By ricknlu

My Laundry Question

I like to soak laundry overnight before washing to get it as clean as possible. Is there any harm to my clothes by soaking them in the washing machine for extended periods of time? Is soaking laundry for just one hour as effective as soaking for eight hours or more?

Share a Little Background Info

I like to soak laundry overnight before washing to get it as clean as possible. Is there any harm to my clothes by soaking them in the washing machine for extended periods of time? Is soaking laundry for just one hour as effective as soaking for eight hours or more?

Lessons Learned

  • I pre-soak laundry to help remove stains and to get my laundry cleaner.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

I like to soak laundry overnight before washing to get it as clean as possible. Is there any harm to my clothes by soaking them in the washing machine for extended periods of time? Is soaking laundry for just one hour as effective as soaking for eight hours or more?

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

Pre-soaking laundry is effective in removing some stains. It is also effective when using beach - chlorine or oxygen - for whitening and brightening laundry.

If the items in your washer are safe for washing, there is no harm to be done by allowing them to soak overnight. Most laundry products will produce the desired reaction for stain removal or whitening within one hour so it is really based on your time schedule. The only product that can harm clothing if left too long is chlorine bleach. If the laundry is left in a chlorine bleach solution for too long, it will develop holes and fading from weakened fibers.

For any product, make sure the detergent or bleach is fully dissolved before adding laundry. If I am going to soak a load of laundry, I fill the tub with water and add the detergent or bleach and allow the solution to agitate for a few minutes before I add my clothes. Then, I turn off the cycle and allow them to soak.

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