Teaching Your College Bound Teen To Do Laundry

Teaching Your College Bound Teen To Do Laundry

Your teenager is going off to college and after all those years of reading parenting books and trying to be the best parent you could be, you realize your kids don’t know how to do their laundry!  So, let that dirty laundry pile up and teach them laundry 101!  Its a great way to spend a few extra moments with your teen before sending them off.

Check The Labels

To avoid ruining those fab new clothes they just bought for school, they need to read the labels before washing anything!  Here is what those labels actually mean!

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Separate Your Clothes

Dark clothes and heavier fabrics like jeans and flannels should all be washed together.  Whites should be washed seperately so they don’t turn pink or gray.  But, what if there are patterns or clothes are pastels?  Its better to be safe than sorry.  So, those should go in a separate load.

Tip: For new clothes, always wash before you wear to get rid of dust and chemicals from the factory where it was made.  Always wash new clothes in cold water to avoid color bleeding and shrinking.


Water Temperature, Delicates, and Hand Wash

Unless clothes are absolutely filthy and caked with dirt, clothes can be washed and rinsed in cold water.  Cold water is best to avoiding shrinking clothes and bleeding colors.


  • For delicates such as bras, tights, and panty hose, you can throw them into a lingerie bag to keep them separate from the other clothes.  
  • Be sure to fasten all bra hooks before putting them into the bag to avoid the hooks catching on other things.  
  • For bras with an underwire, wash them by hand with some gentle baby detergent.  The washing machine will destroy the wire.

Pre-Treat Stains

Once a stain is set it rarely comes out unless you bleach it.  So, pre-treat stains with either a little bit of detergent or spray some Shout on the stain.  If you go to dinner and spill blueberries on your shirt, pre-treat the stain as soon as you get back to your dorm especially if you are not doing laundry for a few days.


  • Zip all zippers
  • Fasten all clasps


 I like odorless detergent for regular clothes and baby detergent for delicates and those who have sensitive skin and skin conditions such as eczema.  If you are in a dorm, you may want to opt for pods so you don’t have to lug heavy detergent bottles up and down the stairs.  Pods are also a great way to save money because it you only bring 2 pods with you for two loads, your neighbors can’t be borrowing your detergent.

Tip: If you opt for a liquid detergent, I suggest using 3/4 the recommended amount so clothes do not come out stiff.   Be sure to put in the detergent, then the water, then your clothes so the detergent can mix with the water.

Fabric Softener

If you love your clothes and sheets super soft, get a few Downy balls and fill them with fabric softener.  You can throw one into the machine and it will release the softener during the rinse cycle.  Another option is to throw a dryer sheet into the dryer.  Do not use fabric softener on your towels because the towels will become coated and lose their absorbency.

Tip: I like color safe bleach to whiten whites and brighten colors.  I would not recommend using it every time you wash.  Every other time or every two times is plenty.  Bleach can eat away at your clothes.

The Dryer

Lighter fabrics should go in one dryer and heavier fabrics in another to ensure everything gets dry and comes out with as few wrinkles as possible.


  • A dryer sheet helps in the winter with static clean.
  • Delicates, fleece, and athletic wear with lots of spandex should not go in the dryer.

Fold Your Clothes

The best way to avoid wrinkled clothes is to fold them right out of the dryer.  You can even get a shirt folder to help you fold everything evenly creating more space in your drawers.