BU Today

Campus Life

Laundry 101

How to keep your whites white and your colors bright


As the Class of 2018 arrives on campus, BU Today has put together a series of articles we call Campus Life 101. Each day this week, we are providing you with tips about some important basics: how to shop for groceries, how to do laundry, how to pick the right backpack to avoid injuries, how to avoid or reduce stress and anxiety, and how to stay safe on—and off—campus.

You’ve finally arrived on campus, unloaded the car, and unpacked your gear. No parents to nag you about when to go to bed, what to eat, or what to wear. Also, no parents to wash what you wear. Hmm. The laundry thing may be a test that no one’s grading, but you can still fail it.

Fear not. Mastering a few basics is all you need to ensure that your whites stay white, your colors don’t fade, and your jeans don’t shrink.

First off, find out what kind of washing machine you’re using. High-efficiency machines require their own kind of detergent, so check first before stocking up on supplies. Second, if you really want whites to stay white, separate light and dark items. Dark clothing can bleed, turning your white sheets a color other than white. Hot water should be used on whites (a bleach like Clorox is optional)—cold water for everything else (otherwise your colored clothes will fade). If you’re unsure what temperature to use on a piece of clothing or what dryer cycle to use, read the label on the garment. Most clothes come with at least that much instruction.

Now a word about the missing sock phenomenon, which any laundry veteran can tell you is not an urban legend. It goes like this: the number of socks you put into the washing machine or dryer is rarely the number you take out. Socks are static by nature and easily wrap themselves into sheets, towels, and the like, or can fall out when you’re stuffing laundry back into your duffel. They’re also notorious for slipping to the bottom of the machine or the back of the dryer. So avoid having a drawer full of mismatched socks by folding the tops of each dirty pair together when you put them in your laundry bag or pinning them together before throwing in the machine.

A tip for those of you who want to do laundry only once a month (yes, gentlemen, once a month is considered infrequent). Invest in a bottle of stain remover or one of those stain remover sticks. Apply to a stain as soon as it occurs. If you wait a month, the stain will be set and may be impossible to get out.

Finally, a word about laundry room etiquette. If you’re using a dryer that has a lint trap, empty it before you put your clothes in and again when you take them out. Empty lint traps will help your clothes dry faster and prevent fires caused by lint buildup. And be considerate. Don’t leave your clothes sitting in a washing machine or dryer for hours. And if you have to remove someone else’s laundry from a washer or dryer so you can use it, make sure that you remove every piece and put it all on top of the washer or dryer so the owner can find it (all of it) easily.

Find more tips on how to navigate college life in our series, Campus Life 101.

john o'rourke, editor, bu today
John O’Rourke

John O’Rourke can be reached at orourkej@bu.edu.

11 Comments on Laundry 101

  • Marisa on 08.31.2012 at 9:59 am

    I love the videos with puppet Rhett :)

  • BU Mom on 08.31.2012 at 4:50 pm

    Very important when your school colors are red and white, red always runs. DO NOT WASH YOUR RED BU SWEATSHIRT with your whites or all your clothes will be pink! Wash a separate load of red in cold water.

  • Eric Stoller on 09.03.2012 at 9:48 am

    Awesome! More puppet videos please! They’re so rad!

  • Nick on 09.04.2012 at 9:55 am

    I was waiting for Rhett to go for a ride and you delivered. Great work, funny clip and hope it helps some students!

  • Additional Tip on 09.04.2012 at 11:41 am

    Don’t use dryer sheets when you wash a load of towels. They coat the fabric (making things smell nice, which makes it tempting to use with towels) and make the towels less effective at absorbing water and drying you off.

  • Aaron L'Heureux on 09.04.2012 at 1:43 pm

    All puppet videos, all the time, imo.

  • Michael Zank on 08.26.2013 at 6:44 am

    The first time I moved away from home and into a student dorm, in 1977, it was the insurmountable task of figuring out the washing machine that made me lose composure.

  • BU Eng 2014 on 08.26.2013 at 10:45 am

    The comment about guys doing laundry only once a month is just rude assuming that all guys live really filthy. In fact, I’ve seen girls who have more dirty rooms than guys. Also, save your money by doing all your laundry in one machine. I’ve never separated and my clothes have stayed fine throughout my 3 years at BU.

  • Another BU mom on 08.26.2013 at 11:20 am

    DON”T use a liquid stain remover unless you plan on washing the garment right away. Pre-treated areas can fade if the stain remover is allowed to dry. The best thing is to wash stained clothing as soon as possible. The longer the stain has to set, the less likely anything will get it out.

  • West Coast Mom on 08.26.2013 at 5:57 pm

    For those of you who like to do everything in one load, use Shout Color Catchers. They scoop up the color in the water so that your undies don’t turn pink. Still, if it is the first time washing the BU red sweatshirt, do it in the sink first to see if it bleeds.

  • Mr Walter on 06.20.2014 at 5:30 am

    Most of the time it happens when we put all the clothes together in a washing machine, by the way very amazing puppet video.

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