My light-colored clothes are food magnets, plus deodorant can build up and turn yellow in the underarms of shirts, so I do have a big stain problem. (The dark clothes probably have stains too, but I'm not going to worry about what I can't see.) Most of the food stains can be pre-treated when I take the clothes off, but some stuff like mustard and deodorant stains take more elbow grease. Sooner or later, things get grungy enough to break out the Oxy Clean or Biz enzyme cleaner. I try to avoid chlorine bleach for clothing.
Also, the kitchen linen wash (dish towels, dish cloths, cloth napkins) has lots of food stains, grease, probably germs. That one is soaked in hot water and detergent overnight, then washed with chlorine bleach to kill the germs. To be honest, the hot water probably sets as many stains as it removes, but it gets the grease out.
Laundry is probably the only household task that I don't mind, so that might be why I'm willing to spend more time on it.
I think American laundries were originally located in a corner of the basement because that reduces visible clutter in the living areas, plus, as a previous poster mentioned, overflowing washers would cause less damage (Finished basements didn't really become common until the 1950's brought the basement recreation room.) A lot of new construction within the last 10 or 20 years has the washer and dryer on the bedroom level because that is where most of the laundry is created and put away.