Teach Your College-Bound Kid to Do Laundry
At this time of year, thousands of high school graduates are gearing up to head to college. College brings many exciting experiences—but living independently for the first time can be a massive adjustment. As a parent, you may be concerned about your kid surviving out there in the wild. Whether they’ve done their laundry for years or they’re about to touch a washer for the first time, there’s a lot your student will need to know so that their homework is the only load they worry about. Here are some laundry tips to cover with your college student before they head off to school.
Finding the Right Laundry Hamper
Laundry hampers are vital for keeping a college dorm room habitable – the first step to a messy dorm is a sturdy foundation of scattered dirty clothes– but some hampers are too cumbersome to keep in small dorm rooms. The right laundry hamper can help your student utilize the space they have. There are many small-space options for college students, like mesh and hanging hampers. Mesh hampers are flexible and collapsible, so they can conform to tight spaces and fold up when they’re not in use. Hanging hampers, which attach to the wall or closet rungs, are another great way to free up valuable floor space.
Laundry transportation can be another issue for college students. If a student has a laundry room in their dorm building, they may not need to transport their laundry very often. However, even if there’s a laundry room in the dorm, many students will use a laundromat at some point. Hampers with removable liners can make laundry transport a little easier. When laundry day comes, your student can simply remove the liner, tighten the drawstring, and easily transport their dirty laundry as far as it needs to go.
A Basic College Laundry Guide
Here’s a quick run-down of the basics you can share with your student.
Before starting a load, it’s important to sort your laundry. There are a few ways to go about this, but separating it into lights and darks is a solid go-to. Next, removing anything in the pockets is a good idea, as well as ensuring all zippers and buttons are done up.
Detergent goes straight into the load if it’s a top-load washing machine. If it’s front-load, usually, the detergent will go into a compartment on the side. As you select the washing and drying cycles, pay attention to water temperature and spin speed. As a general rule, washing in hot water tends to shrink fabrics and wear down fibers. Likewise, high heat drying cycles can damage sensitive materials, such as silk and linen. It’s a good idea to stay on the cool side of things. Selecting the proper spin cycle can also be problematic. Delicate fabrics are more likely to tear during high-speed spin cycles, so watch out for those in pre-set cycles.
Operating Self-Service Laundromats
Many college students don’t have access to a laundry room. Even dorms with a laundry room can have crowded schedules or mechanical issues, leading to laundromat trips. But, for a student new to the trade, using a self-service laundromat can be a little daunting. You can help them out in advance by familiarizing them with the basics.
- Though some laundromats accept credit cards, loyalty fees, or mobile phone payments, many laundromats only deal in quarters. A single load can cost from $0.50 to $2.00, but that will vary for each laundry facility, so it’s a good idea to bring some extra change, just in case.
- If possible, it’s best to stay at the laundromat through the washing and drying cycles. This may seem like a waste of time to busy students, but it’s the best way to ensure that your clothes aren’t removed and left on the counter by another waiting customer.
- Laundromats usually offer single-use detergent, but it’s more cost-efficient to bring products with you. That way, you can also find the best products for you, like all of our power-packing eco-friendly laundry detergents.
Washing Delicates and Removing Stains
Delicates can be particularly intimidating for people new to the laundry game. This includes silks, linen, chiffon, and lace. These fabrics are sensitive to wear and tear, and regular washing and drying cycles will likely damage them. But, if your student follows a few simple guidelines, they’ll make it through just fine.
The first rule with delicates is to avoid high temperatures. A low-heat wash and dry cycle will work, but it’s best to air-dry your delicates, if possible. In particular, using a machine to dry out bras can stretch the material and weaken the fabric. Collapsible drying racks come in all shapes and sizes and are a fantastic tool for dorm-bound college students looking to air-dry delicates.
Another great tool for delicate laundry is mesh laundry bags. If your delicates are washed in a mesh laundry bag, they’re less likely to get damaged during a washing cycle. They won’t get twisted up in other clothes and they’ll be protected from zippers, clasps, and buttons that could tear the fabric. Mesh laundry bags also work great for socks and other small items to keep them from getting lost in the wash.
Stains are also a big concern for college students doing their laundry for the first time. If mishandled, stain removers like bleach can damage clothes rather than clean them. Your student might want to go with a less risky stain remover, like the Biodegradable Laundry Pre-Spray Stain Remover from Charlie’s Soap. If there’s a particularly tough stain they need to remove, our Oxygen Bleach is a non-chlorine bleach alternative that is gentle and color-safe.
Using the Best Products
When washing laundry, the products you use play a central role. The wrong products can make clothes stiff and scratchy, and the harsh chemicals in many laundry detergents can irritate skin and cause allergic reactions. A good rule for newbies buying laundry detergent? The simpler, the better. At Charlie’s Soap, we prioritize keeping our detergents simple. All our detergents are free of added fragrances, dyes, and parabens. Our Laundry Detergent Packets are perfect for college-bound students; they simplify the process with pre-measured detergent for each load.
While going off to college can be stressful, you can do many things to help your student be prepared. With a simple run-down of the basics, you can support them as they take on new responsibilities and step up in the world, one load of laundry at a time.