By Maureen A. Duffy, M.S., CVRT

Mark Your Washer and Dryer Settings

Washing machine labels
  • If you are a braille reader, you can contact the manufacturer of your washer and dryer and request a free braille control panel or overlay for your particular model. Several manufacturers make them available for a limited array of models.
  • You can also place a tactile mark on your washing machine and dryer controls.
  • See Labeling and Marking on this website for additional tips and products for identifying and labeling clothing, appliances, and household items.
  • You can also count the number of clicks your washer and dryer dials make to determine specific settings.
  • AccessWorld Magazine reviews the accessibility of a wide range of small and large home appliances for people who are blind or have low vision.

Sorting Laundry

  • Use different sized baskets or use plastic bags to separate clothing. This method can be helpful if you take your clothing to a laundromat.
  • If you have low vision, you can place a swing-arm or flexible-arm lamp near your work area.
  • To keep socks together, try clipping or safety-pinning matching socks together as soon as you take them off. They can go into the washer and dryer that way and stay matched.
  • Use mesh lingerie bags for undergarments and other fine washables. Lingerie bags are also helpful for keeping socks and other small items together.
  • You can buy only all-white or all-black socks. In addition to contrasting sharply with each other, white socks and black socks often feel somewhat different, making them easy to identify.
  • Separate new clothing items for the initial wash, in case the color runs.
  • Wash different parts of the same outfit together. If one part is washed more frequently than the other, the colors will not remain the same. This is especially true of darker colors.
  • Treat stains as soon as possible. One way to keep track of stains is to place a small rust-proof safety pin in the center of the stain before laundering the garment. To be certain you’re looking your best, consider asking a trusted and honest family member or friend to check your clothing for possible stains or blemishes.
  • Use a stick-style pre-treatment on the stain before laundering, which can offer more precise application and control. When applying it to the stain, follow a pattern (such as left to right) and use overlapping strokes.
  • Many fabrics shed wrinkles if removed from the dryer at once. Smooth and fold or hang these items promptly to avoid the need to iron.
  • Use a wrinkle-remover spray that smooths wrinkles from clothing. After applying the spray to clothing you’ve removed from the dryer, just snap the garment and the wrinkles will come out.

Measuring Detergent

  • Measure liquid or powder laundry detergent by using individual measuring cups (1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup) that nest inside each other.
  • You can also use the cap of the laundry detergent or fabric softener as a measuring device.
  • Use a one-ounce medicine cup to measure and add liquid fabric softener.
  • Measure and pour detergent over your clothing after you’ve placed it in the washing machine. This helps to avoid spills.
  • Tip: When adding laundry detergent, less is always better than too much.

Ironing Tips

  • Choose a solid-color ironing board cover, rather than one with a pattern, to provide the greatest contrast with the garment.
  • Mark the fabric settings on the iron to avoid scorching fabrics that require a cool iron. See Labeling and Marking for more information.
  • Use a funnel or a turkey baster to add water to a steam iron.
  • Use a cord holder to prevent setting the iron down on the cord and to help you locate the handle of the iron.
  • You can monitor the water level in the iron by shaking it.
  • Instead of reaching out to locate the iron, always follow the cord to locate the iron safely.
  • Rest the iron on a heat-proof pad. This will also prevent knocking over the iron accidentally.
  • To find out if you’ve smoothed out the wrinkles, run your hand lightly over the ironed part of a garment.

Safety Considerations

  • It’s best not to use the washer and dryer doors for support; instead, keep a chair nearby for support and orientation.
  • Check the lint filters frequently, since built-up lint can cause fires.
  • Place a mat on the floor near the washer and dryer to absorb spilled water.

Suggestions for Using a Laundromat

Cues from Colored Lights

  • Coin-operated machines in a laundromat usually have different colored lights that come on and off as the machine is going through specific cycles.
  • If you are able to see these lights, you can use them as cues to help you know when to add detergent, fabric softener, or other solutions to the machine.

Cues from Changes in Sound

  • You can also listen to the sound of the machine as it changes from one cycle to the next.
  • If you want to rely on these sound cues, it’s a good idea to visit the laundromat when it’s not too busy and background noise is minimal.

Ask for Assistance

  • Many laundromats employ at least one person who is present during daytime hours to oversee the store, keep the machines clean, and do the laundry as a customer service.
  • If the employee is unable to do your laundry, ask if he or she can let you know when each cycle changes so that you can add detergent or fabric softener at the appropriate time in the wash cycle.
  • If you maintain a regular attendance schedule, the laundromat employees can get to know you and will be more likely to assist you.

Additional Resources for Laundry