Laundry for Dummies

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Laundry for Dummies

Photo credit: Molly Olwig

Photo credit: Molly Olwig

Photo credit: Molly Olwig

Photo credit: Molly Olwig

Brianna Nicole Abrams

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You are standing in front of the washing machine with a blank look on your face. Your parents aren’t around for your to pawn your clothes off to, and you are not quite sure if the bleach should go with the whites or the with the colors. Here’s a quick guide that will make sure your clothes come out squeaky clean and the right color.

Check the Labels

Machine wash symbols refer to at what temperature you should wash an item. A symbol with o​ne ​dot means you should wash it in cold, t​wo d​ots: wash it in warm, three d​ots: wash it in hot and an X​​ over the symbol means to take it to the dry cleaners.

The bleach symbol dictates whether or not you should use chlorine bleach. If it has a white triangle, cautiously use bleach, however; if it has an X over it, do not use bleach.

The tumble dry symbol refers to drying methods. A white circle means you can use any heat, one dot means use a low temperature, two dots, normal temperature, and three dots means high temperature.

Getting rid of stains

If you sponge a stain with white vinegar, while adding liquid detergent, then repeat again with just white vinegar, then even the toughest stain should disappear.

Lights vs Darks

Separate your laundry into four piles: whites, lights, darks, and delicates. D​o not m​ix colored clothes and light colored clothes in the wash cycle.

Heavy fabrics like denim jeans and towels need a different washing­ machine cycle than delicate items, like bras and lingerie.

Hi or low heat?

Regular (High Heat)­: This cycle is the longest cycle and has the most agitation. A regular cycle is perfect for soiled, dirty and sweaty loads of clothing. This is also good for whites, jeans, towels, sheets and items that are pre­-shrunk. You should not use this cycle if the clothes have been washed with hot water.

Permanent Press (Medium Heat):­ Primarily used for synthetic fibers such as rayons, knits, polyesters and acetates, this setting ensures colored garments do not fade and that your clothes do not wrinkle or lose their shape.

Delicate (Low Heat)­: The most ambiguous, yet versatile, of all the cycles, delicate does not have any specific fabrics that necessarily need to use this setting. However this cycle uses a slower speed to gently dry fragile clothing.

Hang Dry:​ This cycle is for cottons, polyesters, silks and fabrics that do not stretch.


Depending on the the size of your load dictates the amount of detergent you will need. You must read the instructions on the detergent container so you know how much to use. If a detergent is more concentrated then you do not need to use as much.

Water Temperature

The water temperature settings on washing machines can be tricky. For light-­colored items, especially those with foul odor, you should use hot water. For Dark clothes, especially new items which tend to run, you should use cold water. In order to avoid shrinkage, cotton items require cold water.

Last but not least, remember fabric softener!

*Adapted from

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