Blog & Insights

How do I… Wash my clothes?

The third installment of our “How Do I…” Series: a survival guide to university living.

Does the thought of managing your own dirty laundry send you into a complete spin? Are you quietly terrified of that moment when the last pair of lonely undies is sitting in the drawer? Do the weird symbols on the washing machine look like they need Google Translate? Don’t panic – this is the guide for you.

Living on your own for the first time can be a daunting prospect. All those little caretaking tasks that were previously done for you – quite possibly without you noticing – are now your very own responsibility. But there’s no better way to learn quickly than on the job itself. Here’s a 5-step plan to keep your clothing squeaky clean and fresh to go.

1. Is it actually dirty?

It might sound like a silly question, but when it comes to your growing laundry load you may want to ask yourself whether you actually need to wash your clothes with every wear. Some items are a definite yes, but clothing such as jeans and hoodies, or sweatshirts and tops that have simply been worn as layers probably don’t need a wash with every use.

If there is glaring evidence of last night’s pizza on display, or an unidentifiable new pattern has emerged, it’s time to wash. Be guided by your senses. If it looks OK, and smells OK – pop it back in the drawer. If it fails either of these rigorous tests, its laundry fate is sealed.

2. Sort and separate

In an ideal world, your washing will be sorted into neat piles of whites, colours and delicates, all retrieved from the laundry basket conveniently placed at the end of the bed. The more likely reality is that you’re out of socks, you’re not quite sure where all your clothes have gone and you desperately need something to wear.

If you don’t have quite enough in each load to warrant the cycle, all is not lost. Unless your darker items are spanking brand new, or have only been washed once or twice, they are unlikely now to release any new dyes. So the good news is they are perfectly safe to mix in alongside your whites. Beware any items you are emotionally attached to that may require delicate treatment. You are better off doing this by hand, rather than risking a potential mixed load disaster.

3. Washing powder or liquid detergent?

There isn’t actually a whole lot of difference between the two when it comes to everyday washing, so you are safe to indulge in the best supermarket offers you can find.

4. How hot does my wash need to be?

The standard temperature for a wash is set at 30 or 40 degrees. Unless your clothes are literally walking themselves down to the laundry, consider your environmental impact and think about using a cold wash instead. It’s equally as effective and much kinder to the planet.

5. To dry or not to dry?

If you need a fast clothing turnaround, the dryer is definitely the way to go. If you have the time and space, air drying will definitely be gentler on your clothes and they are more likely to return to your wardrobe resembling their previous size.

Bonus extra – Why do my clothes still smell?

If you retrieve your clothes from the wash and they do not smell like the fresh daisies you were expecting, something has not gone quite right. Either; you did not use quite enough detergent, the machine cycle never actually ran, or you left your damp clothes hanging around just a little too long… Practise makes perfect!

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

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