Doing Laundry for the First Time: How to Wash Your Clothes
Published on June 28, 2018

There are loads of life-hurdles to overcome when you start living independently. The list goes on, really, from preparing food and paying bills to doing chores and acknowledging roommate boundaries. There’s one thing, however, that might creep up on you.

It’s laundry.

You certainly wouldn’t be the first student whose favourite shirt has turned an irreparable shade of pink. All it takes is one red sock to go rogue and bam! You’re left with a hot pink wardrobe.

The way we see it is that you can learn the hard way and spend the rest of the semester looking a bit like the Pink Panther, or you can school yourself a bit and come out of it with your clothes intact. We assume you’d prefer the latter.

So, without further ado, here’s how to do your laundry for the first time.

Plan ahead

Do yourself a favour and stock up on underwear. Socks too. This way, if you get caught and have to do a last-minute wash, there’s a greater chance you’ll have back-up. Then treat yourself to a laundry basket (this won’t be the first of your boring ‘adult’ purchases) so that you can keep an eye on how full it’s looking day-to-day.

This is your game plan, your guide, and your belief system from here on in. Like that line on the inside of a Pot Noodle: when your washing reaches a certain point in your basket, you’ll know it’s laundry time.

Separate your colours

Like yin and yang, separate your dark colours from your light colours. It’s a rookie error, but one that befalls even the most seasoned of laundry-doers. Like we said before, all it takes is one rogue red sock.

Wash whites in hot water

So, your whites should be washed in hot water, mostly for two reasons. First, dirt tends to cling to clothing that’s washed in cold water, so it’s going to really show if you wash your whites in cold. This is how they end up discoloured. Second, given that most of your whites will be underwear, it’s just cleaner to wash them in hot water.

Wash darks in cold water*

Although most washing machines these days allow you to mix dark colours and light colours with the use of a colour catcher, we advise that you do your washing the good old-fashioned way.

We’ve found that using a colour catcher often leaves clothes looking faded. Cold water, on the other hand, prevents colour from bleeding and it leaves your colours looking as bright as ever.

*Unless you’re washing dark underwear. Hot water for underwear, remember.

Separate by fabric and texture

Some fabrics need a hotter wash than others, like towels and denim jeans. Separate these from your more delicate items (like bras, for example) to avoid shrinkage. If you mix both these textures, you’ll eventually wear out the fragile items due to the friction.

Spot-clean when necessary

You don’t always have to put a wash on, and it’s better for the environment if you spot-clean now and again. At uni, you’ll be tackling some of the most stubborn stains known to man, so it’s good to get some practice in.

Talking of stains, here’s how you can tackle them…

Spot-cleaning stains

Sauces

From BBQ and ketchup to sriracha sauce, you’re going to get a dollop of something or other down you. It’s almost inevitable.

Blot the stain with a sponge and water, then gently press a lemon slice onto the stain. We know, it sounds like an old mother’s tale but it really does work. You should soon see the stain lift off.

If not, you can put the fabric into the washing machine (if it’s machine-washable). First, pre-soak the stain in a stain-removal solution (mixing half a teaspoon of laundry detergent and one tablespoon of white wine vinegar should do). Put it on a wash, and the stain is no more.

Beer

Seen that picture in the club where a group of friends are posing for a photo, and one doesn’t realise that he’s holding a pint? With an arm draped over his unsuspecting friend’s shoulder, the glass begins to tip like an hourglass, only full of lager, and the lager begins to pour, and in a moment he will have poured the lager over his friend. Clumsy.

At uni, this is where most beer stains come from. That, and your friend having shaken up a can before handing it to you. Acts of betrayal, basically.

Anyway, rinse the fabric with water. Submerge the fabric in a (strong) mix of detergent and water, and leave it for five minutes. Then wash it as normal. Again, if the stain is particularly stubborn, sponge the area with white wine vinegar and gently blot.

Tea and coffee

The average student consumes coffee like it’s going out of fashion, so there’s a good chance you’ll have to tackle a coffee stain at some point or other. They’re particularly stubborn, so here’s what you need to do:

Blot the area with tissue as soon as you can. Don’t scrub! Like the TLC song, we want no scrubs here. Blot.

Then pour a small solution of vinegar and water over the stain and then blot some more. If it’s still not disappeared, add the tiniest bit of bleach to the solution.

Wine

If you spill red wine, it often feels like the end of the world. All you need to do is apply water as soon as the spillage is made, and keep it wet. If the stain dries, the stain sets*.

Then blot with water from the outside in, making sure that the stain doesn’t spread. This method works for white wine too.

*If the stain has set, there’s something you can try. Mix one tablespoon of vinegar with one tablespoon of detergent and two tablespoons of water, and gently rub the mixture into the stain.

There’s a first time for everything

There you have it: a few laundry essentials, and a spot-cleaning cheat sheet. More than enough to tackle the range of stains you’re likely to accumulate at uni and successfully do laundry for the first time. Adulthood actually feels quite good now that you’ve got the hang of it.

We provide excellent laundry rooms for all of our residents, including loads of other added extras. Get in touch, and we’ll talk through your room options.