First and foremost: THEY CAN DO THEIR OWN EVER-LOVING LAUNDRY!
Ellen: In a very few short weeks my daughter is traveling 1,147 miles away to college. In related news, I may personally make headlines if one more person asks me: “Wow, that’s far. Are you going to miss her?”
While that makes me want to kick a kitten, there is a dumbfounding twist to this irritating conversation that makes my jaw drop. They will say to my daughter: “Well that’s too far away for your mom to do your laundry. What are you going to do?”
“Um, do it myself,” she replies speaking veeeerrrry slooooowly. My high school sophomore daughter generally just stares in disbelief.
One woman of a soon-to-be college freshman even went so far as to tell us, “I told my son if he is coming home every weekend to see his girlfriend, she needs to do his laundry.”
My high school daughter (once again staring in disbelief) replied, “Or he can maybe do it himself?” To her credit, she saved, “Well, isn’t THAT a lucky girl?” for when we were back in the car.
At a party, the subject of laundry came up yet again (really), and a woman looked at me like I was Hermione Granger incarnate and breathed, “But HOW do you get them to do it?”
My high school daughter jumped in with, “Well, when we were too short to reach the buttons, she bought us a step stool.”
The woman may have lost some of her awe as she mentally lumped me in with the orphanage supervisor from Annie, but it’s whatever because this woman (me! it’s me!) is not her family’s laundress.
Erin: But it’s not only about how it benefits you, the parent, it’s about how it benefits your kid. While Ellen is getting an inkling of the laundry ineptitude at college, I KNOW about the lack of skills. My son was the hero of his freshman floor because he knew how to work a laundry machine and what products to use in it. He made lots of friends and he should have gotten a thank you note or two from some parents.
So to recap thus far:
- If your precious is smart enough to attend college, they can work a washing machine.
- It is not Quantum Physics. (See number one.)
- Girlfriends are not for laundry. (Neither are mothers.)
- Laundry skills = instant popularity.
Even if your kid has never lifted a stain stick, it’s not too late! Don’t let them learn about it on the streets . . . er, on the freshman hall. Bonus: they probably won’t even need a step stool. Here’s a laundry checklist/tutorial/pure genius to share with them.
Syllabus for College Laundry 101
- Laundry bags, hampers, and/or baskets (Basically, containment for the filth.)
- Zippered mesh washing bags (Sometimes called lingerie or delicates bags.)
- Detergent pods
- Stain stick
- Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus
- Dryer fabric softener sheets
- Optional: Drying rack (Over-the-door models are great space savers.)
- Optional: color catching sheets
It’s all about the sorting.
Darks get washed with darks and lights get washed with lights. Don’t be the cliché who turns their underwear pink with a red sock; it’s sad.
Either have two separate hampers (the preferred method) and sort as you take the clothes off or sort at the machine. Have a bunch of mesh washing bags near your hamper(s) for things you don’t want to go in the dryer like bras, the tissue paper that passes for Forever 21 clothing, and sports jerseys. Put these items in the zippered bags AS SOON AS YOU TAKE THEM OFF to avoid mishaps.
Also, treat stains with your stain stick before you put them in your hamper. Chances are pretty good you won’t remember about that ketchup blob on laundry day. But take note of this: nothing sets a stain like a spin in the dryer.
What to do with an item that is both light and dark? Most likely wash it with darks because then it becomes all about the water temperature (see below). There are also color catching sheets you can add to your load to “grab” any dye that bleeds.
Besides color, there is another consideration: texture and weight. For example, jeans are best washed in a load by themselves. Think about denim grating against your t-shirt for 40 minutes. It might not have a good outcome. If you have more than one towel, you may want to consider washing them by themselves. A couple of towels bunched up in a load can throw a washing machine off-balance, but this is not as big of a deal in a commercial machine.
One important note: don’t tightly stuff the tub with your clothes. They need room to agitate.
This is a good time to brush up on your reading.
Hey, when confusion sets in, read the label! It’s jammed packed with all sorts of information like what wash temperature to use and whether you should hand wash it. There’s a chart available here to help you crack the code of those symbols.
One caveat, cheaper clothes are often labeled “hand wash.” We often get away with washing them in mesh bags in the machine on a cold water setting. It’s all about the risk. If you would be devastated that your favorite shirt got ruined, hand wash it. If it was SUPER expensive and/or made of wool or silk and it’s labeled “hand wash,” you should heed the instructions. Buuuuutttttt, if it was a twelve dollar shirt that you probably won’t wear past one season anyway, it’s up to you to see what you can get away with.
It’s also about the temperature.
If you want to keep it simple starting out, wash everything in cold. But remember darks should always be washed in cold water. If you are feeling a little braver, lights can be washed in warm with a cold water rinse. Towels, sheets, and your gross light colored gym socks and basic underwear can be washed in hot if the labels say it’s okay.
SO many buttons.
The good news is that commercial washers are pretty straightforward and generally have instructions printed on them. Home washers tend to try to be fancier and more confusing, but all you have to do is Google the model to find the instruction manual.
In general, the “Normal/Cotton” cycle has a high agitation level good for dirtier clothes, “Permanent Press” is a warm wash followed by a cold rinse, and “Delicates” has the least rambunctious agitation and spin cycle.
Don’t forget the detergent.
Detergent pods are the best thing to happen to college students since their acceptance letters. No more schlepping heavy detergent bottles around. One note: the pods go in the bottom of the washer before you put your clothes in, not in the soap dispenser.
It’s dry time!
Back to that pesky label reading thing. Drying instructions should always be heeded. If a tag indicates an item should not go in the dryer, IT SHOULD NOT GO IN THE DRYER. For those things that can go in the dryer, throw in a fabric softener sheet and set the machine for the recommended temperature.
A good life practice is to fold/hang clothes as they come out of the dryer. For those of you snorting over this suggestion, see the next step.
Hahahahahahahaha! More jokes! Ironing barely happens in our own homes.
Here’s what the ironing organizer is really used for on the daily.
Which leads us to our next step . . .
Here’s assuming your clean laundry is in a wrinkled heap in your basket. (We tend to be realists.) You can A) seek out the kid whose delusional mom actually thought she would use an iron or B) whip out your Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus. Just spray, tug, smooth, and hang and you’re good to go (remember to allow for a very wee bit of time for drying).
So you let your dirty clothes pile up under your bed, in your closet, or beneath your sleeping head? Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus can fix that too. Spray it, spray it real good, to eliminate the odor and ensure peaceful cohabitation with your roommate. (You can even spritz their piles if they are the offenders.)
Listen closely to this one. Never, EVER, pull a person’s clean laundry out of the washer and dump it onto the floor. You do NOT need to send that kind of bad juju out into the universe to bite you in the butt when you least expect it.
ONE LAST TIP!
It’s not an urban legend that a majority of students do NOT change their sheets. It’s a joke because people are laughing through the tears . . . because the funky sheets are making their eyes water. While we firmly believe kids should do their own laundry, we acknowledge that parents might have to do this trick at move-in.
- Put down the cushy mattress topper.
- Cover with a mattress protector.
- Put on a fitted sheet.
- Layer on ANOTHER mattress protector.
- Top with ANOTHER fitted sheet.
- Make bed up with the flat sheet, blanket, and comforter.
- Artfully arrange pillows.
- Take a picture because it might never look this way again.
So the thought is, that after a week or fifteen, your student can just peel off the top sheets and mattress protector and have a fresh bed. Of course this isn’t foolproof because your precious still has to tuck in a clean top sheet and change the pillowcase, but it’s worth a try. You probably should recommend frequent spritzes with Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus just to be safe.
One last picture because we’re ironic like this. Okay, we know it’s not irony, but we at least qualify for punny. Right!?
While we were compensated by Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus for this post, all love for this product and hard-won advice about college laundry are all our own.
Get your coupon for Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus here!
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