Congratulations, graduate! You’ve made it through every essay, scantron test and oral presentation your high school has thrown at you and you’ve come out on the other side. You’re convinced that you’re ready to embark on your path to adulthood, but there’s just one small problem: You’ve never done your own laundry. Don’t be embarrassed. ENTITY’s got your back.
Whether you’re a freshman in college or you’ve just been too busy to use a washing machine, this list will help you navigate the ins and outs of doing laundry.
If you’re washing your clothes at your local laundromat, they will most likely have washers of different sizes. But if you’re the type of woman who will be tempted to save your quarters (and time) by stuffing all your dirty clothes into one medium-sized washer, think again.
According to Livestrong, clothes need space to agitate in the washer. When fabric rubs against fabric, it helps dislodge dirt. But if there are too many clothes in the washer, the spinner won’t spin the fabric as effectively. “The clothes will be compacted and instead of acting as washboards and getting rid of dirt, they’ll act as sandpaper and ware out faster,” says Livestrong. Not only that, a larger load may require you to run an extra rinse cycle to wash the soap residue. So in the long run, you’re using more water, electricity and money.
Also, where your washer is located matters. To save time, energy and dignity pick a washer closest to a dryer and the door. It’ll help you out later when you’re struggling to transfer your wet clothes.
Although some people would argue that this is an unnecessary step, separating your clothes is the best way to care for them.
You can separate your clothes however you’d like, but the easiest (and perhaps safest) way to do so is by color. Dark colors go in one pile, pastels in the next and finally, your whites in another. This is the best way to keep the color of your clothes vibrant and to prevent them from bleeding in the wash.
Also, remember to be careful when throwing in new garments, particularly red ones. If you’ve got a bright red shirt, try to slide that in with the darks.
Typically, clothing labels will give you washing suggestions. Check the tags of your new clothes to see if it has instructions like “wash with like colors” or “gentle cycle only.” If it does, then you can separate your clothes accordingly.
Your washer probably has three settings: brights and colors, perm press and fragile. The first setting is self-explanatory. The second setting, perm press, is designed to diminish the amount of wrinkles in your clothing. This is definitely a number one Busy Girl Pro Pick for saving time (and sweat) while doing loads of hot ironing in a dorm room. The last setting is fragile and is designed for underwear and clothing of more delicate fabrics, like satin.
If you’re at a laundromat, though, your settings may be different. Instead of adjusting the setting based on fabric, it will separate loads by temperatures: normal, hot and cold wash. Although it may sound like a good idea to wash your clothes in warm or hot water to “get rid of the germs,” you may want to reconsider.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, cold water can make your clothes last longer because heat breaks down dyes (causing clothes to fade) and can cause shrinkage. If you want clothes to retain their shape and color, opt for cold water. Also, if you pay for the electricity your washer uses, washing clothes in cold water can also save you at least $60 in utilities a year. This is because warm water needs to be heated and heat requires energy. “Roughly 75 percent of the energy required to do a load of laundry goes into heating the water,” Smithsonian Magazine writes.
Detergent pacs – often referred to as “Pods,” which is a term trademarked by Tide – go in the drum at the bottom of the washer. Liquid detergent, on the other hand, goes in the detergent tray. While this may be simple enough, picking the right soap for your clothes is a little more complicated.
According to the Reviewed website, liquid detergents are most convenient for spot-treating stains, especially oils and grease. The problem with these, however, is that they’re heavier (because water is already added) and the fragrance deteriorates over time.
Conversely, detergent pacs are more convenient. They’re lighter to carry and the soap is contained within a compact, water-soluble packet that dissolves in the wash. Additionally, the pod design allows manufacturers to better formulate the detergent. “Tide’s three-chamber pod gives [the company] a way to innovate, to allow us to separate technologies that are incompatible,” says Elaine Cella, principal researcher for Tide. Unlike liquid detergent, pods can be separated into different sections that target “incompatible” things, such as fragrance and brightness.
If you’re looking to use liquid detergent, The Sweet Home suggests Tide’s Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid or Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid for removing stains like chocolate, oil and grass. Kirkland Ultra Clean Liquid is also a solid choice for an effective clean.
Now that you’ve got the preliminary steps covered, shut the lid and let your spin cycle start. Maybe your washer’s 60 minute ETA seems like a pretty long time, but do not try to take your clothes out early. If you take it out before the last few minutes, the washer will not have shaken all the extra water out of your clothes and they’ll come out dripping wet to the point that they won’t dry in the dryer.
Save your time in the long-run by waiting a little extra time.
Since you chose a washer that’s close to a dryer, you’ve already made your life easier. When you’re grabbing those wet clothes out of the wash, odds are they’re going to be tangled together and will leave the washer as one big, cohesive ball. And if the thought of the newest inductee to your seven for $27 Victoria’s Secret collection hitting the dirty laundry room floor leaves you feeling lightheaded, this is the tip for you. Pull your leggings and long sleeves apart while they’re in the washer. Untangle enough so that you have just enough to (safely) carry in your arms to the nearest dryer. No spills and no lightheadedness.
Pop in a few dryer sheets and you’re good to go! Dryer sheets like Bounce Fresh Linen Fabric Softener and Snuggle Blue Sparkle Fresh Scent can help soften your clothes, reduce static and make them smell great.
Once your load is done, make sure to remove them from the dryer as soon as possible. If you leave them in there because you got caught up watching the last episode of “Stranger Things,” then you’re going to have to deal with the hassle of wrinkled clothes for a week. Set a timer and take them out as soon as it buzzes; it will save you frustration in the long run.
So what are you waiting for? Now that you know your basics, grab your clothes, quarters and dryer sheets and get washing!
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