Tried and true tips for the college set
The good news: you’re off to college. The bad news: Mom and Dad won’t be there to do your laundry. Prepare to master the task on your own with a crash course in washing and drying (or simply print out this cheat sheet and take it to the dorm with you).
- Read each garment’s tag for care instructions; it may contain all the guidance you need.
- Truly take the time to separate your clothes into “lights,” dark and brightly colored clothes, and delicates before loading the washer; unless you want to turn everything a pale shade of pink. If you have the space, set out a hamper for each category.
- Select the proper wash cycle—there are really only three you need to know. “Regular” or “normal” is what most students’ wardrobes (T-shirts, sweatshirts, jeans and other cottons) demand; such pieces can withstand that vigorous wash cycle. “Permanent press” is best for blouses, pants and skirts in wrinkle-resistant synthetic, as well as cotton and linen blends that need a little less agitation time. “Delicate” is for just that—knits and dressy outfits made of lace, sheer or woven fabrics; the cycle is gentle and slow-spinning.
- The load-size setting controls the water level. Adjust it each time for best results—choose too much or too little water and clothes won’t get as clean.
- Measure detergent according to the instructions on the box or bottle (really, you’ll only have to do all this reading the first time). If you use too much detergent, it can irritate your skin and leave a residue on your clothes. Pour the soap into the water before adding the clothes so it will dissolve completely.
- A general rule of thumb for water temperatures is to use hot for sturdy, heavily soiled and white clothes; warm for average loads; and cold for clothes that are delicate, lightly-soiled or likely to fade. Whenever possible, rinse in cold water to save energy.
- Hand washing is time consuming and may be difficult to do in a dorm. Avoid wearing such delicate items. If you must hand wash something, soak it in cool water with a gentle detergent, rinse well and carefully squeeze (don’t wring) dry.
- If the tag says “tumble dry,” use the “regular” dryer setting (or “cotton” if that’s what your clothes are made of). “Permanent Press” is for wrinkle-resistant pieces. If you’re worried about your favorite shirt shrinking or stretching, hang it or lay it flat to dry, rather than using the machine.
COLLEGE LAUNDRY KIT WHAT TO INCLUDE
Here’s what every student needs to stay presentable all semester long.
- Detergent (liquid or powder: concentrated formulas save precious closet space)
- Bleach (oxygen formulas are most ecofriendly), and a bleach pen for touch ups
- TakeAlongs Twist & Seal containers (to tote single servings of detergent and bleach instead of that heavy bottle)
- Prewash stain remover
- Fabric softener sheets (do not use on towels; they may reduce absorbency)
- Mesh fine-washables bag (to keep delicates safe in the washer)
- Rolls of quarters
- Laundry hamper or basket An iron (optional, of course)