Laundry And College In 7 Easy Steps

by Kristen Hansen Brakeman
Originally Published: 

Your dad called me at work and said that you said I forgot to teach you how to do laundry. Perhaps you think it was some sort of parental failing on my part, but actually it was intentional. I washed your clothes for the past 18 years so you could spend your time on more important things like studying, resume building and improving your social ranking on the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood app.

But since you are leaving for the dorms tomorrow, it’s time to learn. Here is a simple set of instructions:

1. First, check the label of anything expensive or fancy to see if it needs to be dry-cleaned. Set garment aside. On second thought, forget that. You can’t afford dry-cleaning. Why did we even buy something that’s dry-clean only? Let’s donate it and take the tax write-off. We need the money to pay for your college.

2. Next, separate by color. Blues, grays, blacks and purples go in the dark pile. Reds, oranges and pinks in another. That’s your red pile. Whites go in a separate pile. Ignore me, and combine your reds and whites? Your wardrobe will look like it did when you were five—ALL PINK!

3. Now you’re ready to wash. Can you feel the excitement? Start by taking the darks and throwing them in the machine. Set dial to cold water. Set other dial to permanent press or 8, or 10, or 12 minutes. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter. Pour in a cap full of soap (or less, because detergent is really expensive and you rarely exercise so your clothes don’t get that stinky). Turn machine on by pulling knob, or pushing something, or by inserting some sort of monetary offering.

4. When it’s done (that is, the machine stops shaking and making noise), it’s time to separate them again. All those shorty-short shorts you have? Good Lord, we don’t want them to get any shorter, so pull them out. Same goes for all those cheaply made blouses, skirts and shirts. Hang-dry these items in your room using anything (hooks, closet doors, chairs or bunk beds), but be sure not to encroach too much on your two roommates. Ha, two roommates! I still can’t believe there’s going to be three of you in that tiny little room. What a nightmare! But you’ll be fine, really. I’m sure. Just always be considerate of your roommates. Don’t be messy, and don’t leave food bits in the room because that will attract ants or worse. And you don’t want worse. Then again, don’t be a pushover either. If they do something annoying, you gotta say something. Like if they’re bringing dudes home every night, don’t put a pillow over your head and pretend not to notice. Tell them to knock that shit off!

5. Okay, for the red load, repeat steps 3 and 4. Now, if (and only if) your reds are really old and there aren’t enough machines available, just throw them in with the dark load. But frankly, with the money we’re paying for that place, there damn well better be enough machines available. Speaking of which, don’t forget that you are a paying customer at that school. If you’re not getting the classes you need, you have to raise a stink. Don’t get enrolled in “Finnish Folk Art and Technology” or “The Films of Jean-Claude Van Damme,” because then you’ll end up taking five years to graduate and we can’t afford that. Also, you need to suck up to your professors, and don’t worry about being labeled a teacher’s pet. This isn’t high school. You need professors to be on your side to get the most out of this place. Did I mention the cost?

6. Now let’s do whites. Simply turn the water temperature to hot. Repeat steps 3 and 4, but add a little bit of bleach, like a half of a cup or so in that little doohickey near the top. Speaking of hot water, your first job there is to get an education. Remember that. Study first, and then have fun. School, work, fun. That is the order of priorities. Remember, moderation is key. If you are going to ignore our advice and the laws of the land, at least don’t be the drunkest, druggiest girl at the party. Watch your glass and please, please, please, avoid designer drugs with cutesy names like Smiles or Spice or Special K. That stuff will kill you. Seriously. Just stick with good old-fashioned weed, and only a hit or two is all you need. It’s stronger than it used to be. Or so I’ve heard.

7. It’s time to dry! Those few remaining items that don’t need to hang-dry can be combined into one economical dryer load. Set the dial to medium or low (never dry hot or you’ll think the Freshman 15 has already happened), and then push the button. Easy, huh?

Let’s see, did I forget anythin? Wash your towels every few days, sheets once every week or two, but don’t let it go three—that’s just gross. Maybe buy some dryer sheets, always use protection, and as any working adult will tell you: have a blast, because for the rest of your life you’ll wish you could go back.

Love, Mom

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