Like many tasks, washing your own laundry is something that seems like a complex and daunting task until you have done it a few times. Then it becomes dull and dreary. When this happens, your appreciation for whoever had been doing it for you grows and you begin to understand the frustration they had for the task.
When you break the larger chore of washing your laundry down into smaller parts, you end up with just a few tasks that are individually not too complex.
The first step is to sort your laundry into two piles. One pile for light clothes and one for dark clothes. There is no hard and fast definition of how to classify a particular piece of clothing, so your best bet will probably be good enough. Generally speaking, clothes with lots of color should go in the dark clothes pile so that if the color bleeds, it won’t have as noticeable an effect.
Within each pile, look at the tags on the clothes to see if there are any special instructions for how to wash the clothes. Most likely, they’ll say something like “machine wash warm”, but there’s the possibility that it will say something different. Try to group clothes with similar washing instructions together so that you’re not putting your delicates through with your jeans.
Once you have your clothes sorted by lights and darks and then by washing instructions, it’s time to put them into the washer, select the cycle type and temperature, add detergent, and start the machine.
Select the Cycle and Temperature
Different washers have different settings so check the knobs and dials on the washing machine to see what your options are for what kind of cycle and temperature you can select. The setting names should line up pretty closely with the tag instructions, but if you’re unsure, you can go with the normal or regular cycle with a hot or normal temperature setting.
Detergent typically comes in liquid or powder form and some washing machines have specific trays or drawers for you to put the detergent into. It’s also possible that you are supposed to simply put the detergent directly into the washer with the clothes. Check the instructions on the washer to see how and where you are supposed to add detergent.
If you’re using a powdered detergent, there should be a scoop included that you can use to measure the amount of detergent to add. Typically, one full scoop is the correct amount.
If you’re using a liquid detergent, a cup is usually included and is typically attached over the spout of the bottle. One full cup is typically the correct amount
Start the Machine
Now that the clothes have been put in and the detergent added, it’s time to close the door or lid and start the machine. Make sure that the cycle and temperature setting are correct and start the machine. Depending on the brand and model of the washer, this may be done by pushing or pulling one of the knobs or by pressing a button. The washer should have instructions for how to operate it on the control panel.
The wash cycle can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Be courteous to the other people that need to use the washer and set yourself an alarm so that you don’t leave your clothes unattended and the washer occupied. It’s not uncommon for someone to remove your clothes from the washer or dryer that they’re waiting to use.
Once the wash cycle is done, move your wet clothes directly into the dryer. As with the washer, the dryer will have one or more knobs, dials, and/or buttons that you can use to select the type of cycle you want for your clothes. Most likely, you should select a ‘normal’ or ‘permanent press’ setting. The ‘delicate’ setting will apply lower heat and will take a longer time to dry your clothes, but if the tags on your clothes say ‘delicate’, then be sure to use this setting.
You may want to add a fabric softener sheet with the clothes, though it’s not required.
The dryer can also take 30 minutes to an hour. Set your alarm to remind you that your clothes are done drying so that you can avoid being that guy that makes other people have to choose between waiting for you to come back or removing your clothes from the dryer for you.
Now that your clothes are clean, you should fold them so that they don’t get wrinkled and look shabby. There are a lot of different ways and techniques for folding clothes so don’t feel like you have to get it exactly right. As long as the clothes stay relatively wrinkle free and are easy to store, you will have done it right.
Hold the shirt by the shoulders and give it a shake. Fold the shirt down the center line so that the sleeves meet. If the shirt has long sleeves, fold them back over so that they line up with the torso of the shirt. Then fold the shirt in half so that the neck is next to the waist.
Hold the pants by the hips and give it a shake. Fold the pants so that the legs are on top of each other and there is a crease that goes down the crotch. You can then fold the legs in half or in thirds depending on how you want to store them.
Pair up socks and hold the pair side by side. Place your thumbs in the neck of one of the socks so that you’re pinching the socks together. Rotate your wrists so that you fold the neck of the sock that your thumbs are in down and over the neck of the other sock.
Usually, you can just fold the underwear in half and call it good.