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One thing every teenager should know before venturing off to college is how to properly do a load of laundry. With all the settings and fabric care rules, it’s a pretty daunting task! And although they might not want to learn, (cue the eye-rolling and groaning) they’ll be thanking you when they don’t have to go buy another 6-pack of underwear every time they run out of clean ones.
Sorting laundry by color and fabric type helps preserve the fabrics and makes sure you don’t end up with the shrunken, wrinkled, and unintentionally dyed clothing. Keep it simple by having them separate each load into whites and colors first. Then work your way up to fabric types—jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirts in one pile, dress clothes and delicates in another, and towels and sheets in the last.
Make sure to go over how often your teen should be doing laundry. Jeans should be worn a few times in between washes to prevent fading and stretching, but things like underwear and t-shirts should be washed after each wear. You should wash your bath towels after every 3-5 uses, according to Mama’s Laundry Talk, and hang up the towel to dry completely after each use. Last but not least, sheets should be washed at least every other week—not just on Parents Weekend.
Show your teenager where the fabric care labels on their clothing is, and how to decode them. Stressing the importance of these symbols can save them hours of trying to learn how to un-shrink their favorite shirt. If the label advises to dry clean only, always place it in a separate bag to take to the local dry cleaners. You can even do a little research during the wash cycle to find the best dry cleaners near their school.
Running late to class and end up spilling a little bit of coffee on your shirt—it’s happened to all of us. Prepare your teen by teaching them a thing or two about stain removal. 4-in-1 booster pacs are an easy and convenient way to remove just about any stain. Place the pac on top of the stain and just run under cool water until it dissolves completely. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, and the stain should disappear. If they are at class when a spill happens, show them how to rinse the fabric from behind the stain to prevent it from setting until they get back to the dorm.
First, go over all of the settings and dials carefully, explaining when to use each. For example, always use the gentle cycle for more delicate items and use warm or hot water for whites.
One of the most important laundry tips is to never overload the washing machine. Trying to squeeze a month’s worth of dirty clothes into one load of laundry just won’t cut it. Explain that when there are too many items in the machine at once, the detergent doesn’t get a chance to disperse among all of them, leaving behind dirty clothes and pockets of sticky buildup.
In addition, when it comes to laundry detergent, more is not always better. Too much soap can coat your clothes instead of actually cleaning them, resulting in a stinky mess. Have your teen use these pre-measured detergent pacs that are safe for any fabric to take out the guesswork—they’ll definitely thank you for it. And for those who like a light scent, just pop a scent booster pac into the machine and you’re good to go.
Again, have your teen refer to the fabric care label when deciding how best to dry each garment. Next, go over the different heat settings on the dryer, and explain when to use each. Always be cautious not to use too high of heat to avoid shrinking your clothes.
Safety Tip: Remind your teenager to remove the lint from the lint trap before each load. A buildup of lint in the dryer is a fire hazard, and it’s something many kids forget to do.
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Stress the importance of removing laundry from the dryer as soon as it’s done and folding it right away. Letting your nice, clean laundry sit in the dryer for too long means wrinkled clothes. Plus, showing your teen how to actually fold clothes can keep those drawers from looking like a big, rumpled mess.
These basics of doing laundry can help keep your teen looking great at school, and teach them a little independence along with way.