International Student Life

Wash 101

February 21, 2013

For many students, college is one of the first times in their life that they are solely responsible for themselves. Many of the students at IEC are facing new tasks and challenges in every day life from cooking for themselves, to cleaning up and doing their own laundry (often in a foreign, apartment owned, shared laundry room).

We thought we could help out with a little lesson in laundry for those of you that are new to this. At IEC, we know students like their nice clothes, so why not take the care to keep them in great shape?

We present: Wash 101

1. First, locate your washer and dryer.

Seriously! Most apartments have a shared laundry room, often with coin or card operated washing and drying machines. Some of you lucky students may have access to a washer and dryer right in your own apartment. Those people should say a quick “thank you” before we continue. For those of you that do not have access to an on-site laundry facility, this map will help you locate public laundry facilities near IEC.

For those students who live in a Homestay, please ask your Homestay family for a quick tour of the laundry machines available if they have not yet done so.

2. Gather your materials.

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You really only need a laundry basket, an all purpose laundry detergent and dryer sheets. The detergent is used in the washing machine and is often in liquid or powder form; some even come in convenient, pre-measured packs now. The dryer sheets are used in the dryer and will help relieve your clothes of static, while making them soft and supple.

If you are using a shared facility or laundromat, be sure to check whether you need coins or a pre-paid card. Many apartment buildings require tenants to acquire a pre-paid laundry card from the management desk.

3. Sort your clothes by type of wash and by colors.

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Most clothes will be able to be washed and dried on a “regular” cycles. Some clothes, however, must be washed on a gentle cycle due to fragile fabrics that can be damaged by water saturation, water temperature, wash cycle speed or even by detergent. The picture above is of a care tag located inside the garment. It indicates the garment should not be washed at home, but taken to a dry cleaners.

Once you have determined which items can be washed at home, separate the items by color: dark colors, whites, and bright colors (red, pink). By washing like colors together, you can help keep your clothing fabric from “bleeding” into other items. A famous example of this problem is when a person accidentally washes red and white items together and turns all of their underwear pink!

4. Wash it!

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Choose your settings based on color and/or fabric type as well as the size of the wash load. Most washing machines will have options based on the size of the wash load (small, medium, large, super) as well as the temperature of the water to be used (cold, cool, warm, hot) and the type of wash cycle (gentle, regular, heavy).

For water temperature, you may check the items’ care tags or typically, you can follow the rule of:

Whites = warm or hot water

Darks = cool or cold water

Brights = cool or cold water

For wash cycle speed, also check the items’ care tag, or follow the rule of:

Towels, jeans, sheets, or heavily soiled items = heavy speed cycle

Tee shirts, socks, cotton clothing items = regular speed cycle

Sweaters, dress pants = gentle speed cycle

Also consider that warm wash and dry temperatures may shrink new, unwashed items and even certain materials. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR ITEM’S CARE TAG BEFORE FIRST WASH!

5. Dry it!

Before and after EVERY load you dry in the drier, check the lint trap! Simply wipe the “trap” clean of the lint buildup and dispose of the old lint in a garbage can. A full/dirty lint trap can create a fire hazard.

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Add 1 dryer sheet to each load you put in the dryer and choose your dryer settings based on the clothing items.

Again, you must indicate temperature and usually the drying time needed. Most items will dry perfectly well on regular or “permanent press” and most dryers indicate an energy saving option that typically works just fine in terms of drying time. For heavier items such as sheets, towels and jeans, you may choose a higher temperature or a longer drying time.

Some items will indicate that they may be washed as normal, but require being dried flat. This usually indicates the dryer may potentially shrink of even mishape the item. Many  sweaters require flat or line drying. This simply means you should not dry it in the dryer, rather, hang it on a clothing line or a drying rack (or over the shower curtain rod in the bathroom).

6. Finally, be courteous to other laundry users. Most washes are done within 30 minutes and most dryers are finished within 45 minutes. If you cannot be in the laundry room at all time (say, if you use a shared laundry facility at an apartment), set a timer on your phone to remind you to check and move your items. If you are using a laundromat, you can do all of your wash at one time since they offer so many machines. In any case, try to get in and out as quickly as possible.

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