Laundry 101: How To Wash Your Clothes

I’m sure throughout high school most of you weren’t obligated to do your own laundry every couple weeks. Maybe you were, but I know most mothers usually end up washing their child’s dirty pile of clothes because it quickly accumulates.

News flash: your mom isn’t going to be there to wash your clothes at college. It’s all up to you now. You’ll quickly learn that wearing a shirt for a few hours is no longer considered dirty; rather, it’s quite usable for at least one more wear.

At school, you’ll also have to pay in order to wash and dry your clothes (unless you live in an apartment or house that has those appliances). Now, I’m not saying to let your dirty clothes pile up for a month, but I guarantee you’ll find yourself wearing those jeans at least twice before you think of washing them.

So you go down to the laundry room and walk up to the machines. Now what? There are so many options and knobs; don’t feel overwhelmed. The point of my blog is to prepare you for this task. Even if you’ve never touched a washing machine before, have no fear, this blog will explain everything you need to know.

The Washing Machine

Before you go down to the laundry room, make sure you separate your clothes. Wash your lights and darks separately to avoid any unwanted color changes in your white clothing. If the shirt is light but has some darker designs on it, it’s okay to keep it with your light-colored load (the same goes for dark clothing with light designs).

Check the fabric—some fabrics are too delicate to go into the washing machine. The tag will say “hand wash only” or “dry clean only” if it shouldn’t be machine washed.

Once you get to the washing machine, follow these steps:

  • First, open the door on the front (or top of the washing machine) and put your clothes in.
  • Next, at the top right or left corner on the front of the machine (usually left); there will be a tray that can be pulled out. This is where you pour your detergent. Make sure to only fill your cup up to the first or second line because too much soap can ruin and break the machine.
  • After that, set your water temperature using the designated dial.
    • Cold Water—delicates or whites.
    • Warm Water—cotton or very dirty clothes.
  • Choose a cycle. Most machines offer cycles for: whites, colors, delicates, bulky items, or simply a normal wash. These options will vary by machine style.
  • Hit the start button and you’re all done.

Every school will have a different type of washing machine, but these instructions should still help you correctly pick your cycle. Some washing machines might have the lid on the top for the clothes to be placed in, and you most likely will have to just pour the detergent in there before you start the cycle.

The Dryer

So you washed your clothes…now it’s time to move them over to the dryer. This machine is a lot easier to conquer than the washing machine so don’t fret.

  • First, check to see if the student who used the dryer before you emptied out the lint filter. If not, make sure to clean that off in the nearest trash can before drying your clothes.
  • Pick a cycle. The regular cycle is best for cotton fabrics and a permanent-press cycle is best for synthetic fabrics (some dryers may also have a delicate or heavy duty cycle for thinner or bulkier items).
  • Add a fabric softener sheet.
  • Once the cycle finishes, be sure to fold or hang your clothes right away to avoid wrinkling.

Important Tip: Take note of the time when you start your washing machine cycle and dryer cycle. Make a point to return to the machines as soon as your clothes are finished or a few minutes before.

The reason being that if you leave your clothes in there after your cycle finishes, another student will most likely remove your clean clothes and place them on top of the machine or elsewhere in the laundry room so they can do their laundry.

You don’t want your nice, clean clothes to get all dirty again, so just make sure to be on top of retrieving your laundry at the appropriate time.

Another hint: while I mentioned before that some clothes are too delicate to be machine washed, other types of clothing can be machine washed but then should NOT be placed in the dryer. Articles of clothing that are 100% cotton are the worst to place in the dryer, but check the tags on other delicate items to avoid shrinking or other damage.

Also, keep in mind that you should dry items that are similar in order to guarantee that they get fully dried on the first cycle. For example, t-shirts and towels won’t dry at the same rate so it’s best to dry them in separate loads.

You can now conquer the task of doing your laundry as a college student. Don’t worry; soon you’ll be a pro just like mom!

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Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk is a junior at the University of Dayton pursuing a degree in communication with a concentration in electronic media as well as a minor in English. While not in class, Stephanie is involved in a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and a honors professional fraternity, Phi Beta Chi. Outside of academic and community activities, she enjoys dancing hip hop, reading, spending time with friends, and doing yoga.