BU Today

Campus Life

Laundry 101

How to keep your whites white and your colors bright

As the Class of 2021 arrives on campus, BU Today offers a series called “Campus Life 101.” Each day this week, read tips about some important basics: how to do laundry, how to shop for groceries, how to pick the right backpack to avoid injuries, how to stay safe on—and off—campus, and how to avoid or reduce stress and anxiety.

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, 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 before stocking up on supplies. Second, if you really want whites to stay white, separate light and dark items. Dark clothes 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 garment’s label. 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 them 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 possible. 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 items in and again when you take them out. Empty lint traps will help them 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 so you can use a washer or dryer, make sure you remove every piece and put it all on top of the machine so the owner can find it (all of it) easily.

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


3 Comments on Laundry 101

  • Dianne Zareski on 08.25.2015 at 11:02 am

    This is the funniest thing ever! Way too cute, yet informative at the same time. Very creative! I’ve watched it 5 times already and am amused every time.

  • Annika Larson on 02.17.2017 at 4:48 pm

    I am just moving to college, and I am not used to doing my laundry at a laundromat. My mom tried to give me some basic advice, but I still have a lot to learn. As you mentioned, I think there is a lot of etiquettes that goes into using a laundromat. I’ll be sure to remove my laundry promptly and empty the lint as you suggested. Thanks!

  • Susan Morrison on 09.07.2017 at 11:20 am

    Remember that your school color, red, runs and will make all your clothes pink. Wash red clothes separately!

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