Laundry is typically sorted according to how it is going to be washed. If all clothes are going to be washed and rinsed with cold water, there is little need to sort clothes. Sorting clothes to be washed in hot or warm water minimizes the risk of colors bleeding onto each other.
Pull out dry-clean-only clothes
Remove any clothes from the sorting pile that require dry cleaning or hand washing. Read the fabric care labels for any garments you are not sure about. Set them aside for special care.
Separate lights and darks
Sort clothes into a pile of light colors and a pile of dark colors. Set lingerie and other delicates into a separate pile during this sorting.
Separate lights and whites
Separate true white garments from light-colored garments, especially if you plan to use bleach. Make sure all the white garments are bleachable before adding bleach to the wash.
Separate darks and denims
Separate the dark pile into denims and all other darks if you have a large enough pile of laundry to warrant this. Sort other heavyweight dark materials with the denim pile.