Laundry 101: Avoid a clothing disaster

Andrew popik

Credit: Andrew popik

It’s your first year in college. You’re away from the folks and you want to prove how independent you are. You’ve turned in your homework on time, passed that painful exam and whipped up a meal — all on your own.

This weekend you won’t be going home, so if you don’t want to show up for class naked or smelling like last week, you’ll have to hit the laundry room.

No problem, you say. Don’t you just throw in the clothes, turn on the machine and put in the soap?

Anyone who’s been doing laundry over the years knows that it’s not quite that simple. I’m sure everyone has a laundry disaster story that they’ve either heard of or learned from at some point in life. So here are some tips from the experts to make your laundry an assured success.

The first step to clean clothes is the sorting process. According to, articles should be sorted by color, keeping whites, darks and medium colors separate.

Barb Chidsey, instructor of fashion design and merchandising, said a common mistakes for beginners is throwing everything together in the wash.

“The white clothes will start turning dingy, because the dark colors will bleed off on the whiter colors eventually,” she said.

Another important thing to remember is to check all of your pockets before you put your clothes in the wash. Imagine a lipstick that goes in with your clothes and smears all over your entire wardrobe.

After sorting garments by color, make sure you don’t overload the washer, Chidsey said.

“The clothes don’t get as clean; they kind of just get stuck in a clump, and the soap can’t move freely around in the water.”

Just as important as washing your clothes is drying them. First, make sure to check the care label to see if you can even put it in the dryer.

I’ve lost a couple of great sweaters this way, as they can now fit any 5-year-old perfectly, after putting them in the dryer.

“You can avoid wrinkling clothes in the dryer by using the permanent press setting because it is a lower heat,” Chidsey said. “If the setting is too hot, it destroys the finish, and it starts wrinkling.”

Also, keeping the lint filter on the dryer clean decreases drying time and is more energy efficient. 

What’s the deal with fabric softeners? Fabric softeners come in both sheets and liquid. They’re designed to soften the fabric while reducing static cling. Although you may not want to use fabric softener on your towels, Chidsey said.

“If you want to make the towels softer, you can use fabric softener but that will probably decrease the absorbency of them.”

Want to save money on your dry cleaning bill? There are certain fibers that can be washed at home.

“Wool sweaters you can wash,” Chidsey said, “even if they say dry clean only.”

However, you have to hand wash wool in cool water and lay it flat to dry, she said.

One last word on laundry and that is stains. Getting red wine on your favorite blouse can ruin an evening.

The most important thing is to treat the stain as soon as possible. There are plenty of spot removers out there, so I would get one.

If you want to learn more valuable tips on laundry or look up a common stain, check out or

JaLynn Hardy is a senior broadcast journalism major who studied fashion design for two years and is a fashion columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].