Despite what most teenagers will tell you, they are all perfectly capable of doing a load of laundry. With some specific instruction and demonstration, you can demystify what happens in the laundry room. You will also be letting them in on the secret of how their sports uniform has gone from stinky and stained to folded and put away in their drawers all these years.
Follow these basic steps for training a teenager to become a laundry champion.
Step 1 – Sorting
Explain how to sort clothes into dark, light and whites. There are even laundry hampers that have separate sections for each…anything to make it easier for them (because then it’s easier for you).
Be sure to review why sorting is important – because generally dark colors can run and ruin light colored clothes. Also, some whites should be washed in warm or hot water for the best cleaning.
Which leads us to Step 2…
Step 2 – The Care Label
Be prepared for eye rolling and a “Seriously?” when you tell your teen that reading is part of doing laundry. It might help to hold up their favorite pair of jeans and tell them that if they don’t read the label, these expensive jeans could fade, shrink or turn colors and never look totes amazeballs on them again.
So, introduce your teen to the care label. Help them decipher the symbols (see this handy guide) to determine how their clothes should be laundered.
Step 3 – The Washing Machine
First, go over the settings, dials and buttons thoroughly. Give them scenarios and see if they understand what settings to choose (ex: you’re washing every piece of underwear you own because if you don’t tomorrow will be awkward. What setting do you choose?).
Then, be sure to cover the two most important “things to avoid” when using the washing machine:
Don’t overload it – trying to only do one load when you really have enough dirty laundry for two is not going to save any time. Detergent won’t dissolve or disperse, there’ll be no place for the water to go and clothes won’t get clean.
Don’t use too much detergent – using more soap than necessary will cause the buildup of gook that smells worse than their rooms, so teach them to measure properly or, better yet, use pre-measured detergent pacs for a quicker, hassle-free process.
Step 4 – The Dryer
This is a tricky step because so much can go wrong, from shrinking clothes, to static cling to horrible wrinkles. But rather than focus on the negative, simply explain the different heat settings on the dryer (ex: if you washed it on a delicate cycle, dry it on a delicate cycle unless the label says to lay it flat and air dry).
Review the safety reasons for cleaning out the lint trap before every load (a handy trick is to use the used dryer sheet to grab all the lint) – lint that builds up in a dryer can create a fire hazard.
Step 5 – Fold it
Remind your teen to remove clothes as soon as the dryer is done and fold right away, otherwise everything will be a wrinkled mess. And they might have to learn to use an iron.
It sounds so simple, but the mere act of folding clothes seems to challenge even the smartest of teens. Try to help them understand that balling up their clothes and shoving them in their drawers isn’t the greatest way to do laundry. Plus, if you’re ever brave enough to let them do your laundry, then you definitely want to train them on the correct procedure right away.
Those are the basics of doing laundry that any teenager can learn. For their first few loads, you might want to start them out on towels and sheets until they are ready to take on more complex laundry like hoodies and jeans.