How to Learn to Do Laundry

Mike, a college student, has a rather unique (and unhygienic) system of doing his laundry:

* In front of his pint-sized closet, filled with every piece of sporting equipment ever introduced to the Western world, lies an ever-expanding pile of dirty clothes.

* When Mike can no longer open his closet, he knows it's time to stuff what he can into a brown paper shopping bag (his makeshift laundry basket) and head to the laundromat.

* In his "basket" is a mishmash of boxers, unmatched socks, T-shirts, jeans, khakis and a sweater marked "dry-clean only."

* Shoving all of the clothes into a washing machine, Mike sprinkles on as much detergent as he can.

* He then stuffs all of the "washed" clothes into a dryer, turns the dial to "high."

* An hour later, he squishes his wrinkled steaming clothes into his "basket," takes it home and leaves the clothes in the bag, only taking the clothes out when it's time to wear them.

Now take out the name "Mike" and replace it with the name "You." If this scenario sounds familiar, you desperately need to read this eHow (not only because you're ruining your clothes, but because you probably stink).

Let's make something crystal clear: An average, semi-active single person should wash her clothes about every 2 weeks. However, college students often try to hold out for months until they finish midterms and can take their clothes home to Momma. Sure, you could pay an arm and a leg for a laundry service, but then we'd call you a wuss. Don't make us call you names; please read on.

  1. Gather Your Materials

    • Before you head all the way to the neighborhood laundromat (or, for the fortunate few, to the washer and dryer downstairs), make sure you have the following:

      * Quarters: Yes, washing and drying costs money; usually 75 cents to $1.75 per load for each machine. Laundromats often have change machines; those that don't, however, leave you to fend for yourself.

      * Detergent: News flash! Laundry detergent does not automatically spray out of the inner workings of the machine. That said, go to your local supermarket or convenience store and pick up a bottle (liquid form) or box (powder form) of detergent. There really is no difference between liquid and powder detergent. You may find that liquid is less messy, however, but also slightly more expensive. You'll probably be happiest with the brand your Mom or Dad used (you're used to the smell), but you should especially look out for detergents that may give you an allergic reaction.

      * Bleach: If you're doing a load of whites, you may want to add bleach to get your clothes as bright as possible. A note of caution: Bleach should only be added to whites (as you may have guessed, it tends to, uh, bleach). Luckily, because scientists work so hard, detergents are now available that have "color-safe bleaching action" (meaning that you can mix your whites and nonwhites). Which bleach should you use? A survey by Consumer Reports found that Tide liquid detergent with bleach alternative was the most effective detergent on the market. Cheer came in a close second, followed by Arm & Hammer. Just thought you'd like to know.

      * Fabric softener: To help eliminate static cling and make your clothes feel softer and smell fresher, add fabric softener. Fabric softener is available in both liquid form (which is added during the wash cycle) and sheet form (which is added during the dry cycle). As in the powdered-detergent-vs.-liquid-detergent debate, there is no real difference in effectiveness between liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets; some consider fabric-softener sheets a worthless indulgence, while others find it a necessity. You be the judge. Some examples are Downy, Snuggles (with that cute little bear) and Bounce.

      * Laundry basket: We don't want to see your dirty underwear hanging over your arm. To keep us from getting sick, we insist that you purchase a heavy-duty laundry basket or a drawstring laundry bag. If you're cheap, you can go with a pillowcase.

Next: Separate and Evaluate Your Clothes

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  • Photo Credit laundry image by timur1970 from

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