Laundry Rules

How to Conquer Your Laundry Before It Conquers You

So, you’re cruising through your week, crossing off one item after another from your to-do, all except for that oneYou know the one: the laundry.  Sometimes it seems as though laundry rules your schedule, or laundry rules over your entire life.  After all, nothing eats up an afternoon like doing laundry, and yet if you neglect it, your capability of getting other stuff done evaporates very quickly. Here are some basic laundry rules you can follow to make sure you at least don’t ruin your clothes.  You might even discover a couple of laundry rules that will save you time, money, or both.

Laundry Rules for Beginners

In case this is your first time washing your own clothes—you know who you are!—here are some basic laundry rules to abide by.

Ordinarily, you sort your clothes into three groups: whites, darks, and mediums (which is a catch-all for confounding shades like lime green, gray, aqua blue, and fuschia).  If you want to, you can wash each of these loads separately.

But then again, you’re in college, and the laundry rules for home probably don’t apply anymore. It’s likely you’re scraping your desk drawers for quarters (a fact of life that unfortunately persists well after college, especially if you live in an apartment).  You can save money by first combining mediums and darks, and then combining whites and light colors.  So feel free to toss in, along with your socks and white T’s, your boxers with pink hearts, khakis, and light shades.  We should add that it’s worth investing in a mesh bag for delicate items.

There’s something satisfying about washing your clothes in hot water, but since you’re going to combine whites and light colors, there’s a risk that the intense heat can cause the dyes to stain the white fabrics.  Use your washing machine’s “warm” or “cold” setting instead.

However, you should always wash things like bedsheets and towels in hot water, and separately from your clothes.

When it comes to drying your clothes, check the instructions on your clothing’s tags.  If any of them reads “line dry” or forbids using a machine, hang it on a hanger and let it air-dry on your doorknob or closet door.  You should generally line dry thin fabrics, delicate items, and anything you don’t want to shrink.  If you feel like saving money and have the patience, you can invest in a folding drying rack (very convenient for small living spaces) and line dry as many pieces of clothing as you want.

Laundry Rules for the Pros

Believe it or not, there are some clothes that you can get away with wearing multiple times, like jeans, skirts, sweaters, jackets, as well as certain shirts and blouses.  So long as it doesn’t reek or have a major stain on it somewhere, these kinds of clothes are fair game for multiple wears.

Also, keep lots of quarters on hand in your dorm, apartment, or house.  It’s a good idea to have a change dish where you can toss loose change as you empty your pockets or purse every evening when you get home.  You’ll discover that you always have quarters awaiting when it’s time to do the laundry, but it’s also a good idea to go to the bank or supermarket every once in a while and get a roll of quarters (some places will charge you money for making change, so try to figure out where you can do it for free).  One of the most important rules of all is this: you never want to be caught without quarters when Laundry Day arrives—it can throw your whole schedule out of sync.

Laundry just seems to have that power, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, none of the laundry rules can make it simply go away, but they can at least prevent the chore from being too terrible.  The last of the laundry rules?  Do it regularly—probably once a week—and it will never pile up enough to overwhelm you.

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