The Idiot’s Guide to Laundry

Colourful laundry

You’re fine for the first week or two, but then: disaster strikes! That dress you wanted to wear tonight is covered in sambuca, there’s unidentifiable takeaway all over your favourite jeans, or – worst of all – you’ve run out of clean pants.

It’s clearly time for a trip to the launderette – but where does the detergent go? What setting should you use? And how do you even turn a washing machine on? Don’t panic! Our idiot’s guide to laundry will get you through that traumatic first wash.

Have a laundry strategy

In a recent study of university students in the UK, a stinky 74% of girls and 55% of boys said they dig dirty clothes out of the wash basket to wear again. Even more disturbingly, 61% of girls and 45% of boys admitted to turning their pants inside out to get an extra wear out of them – gross!

Sadly the only way to avoid such desperation is to be organised, but luckily there’s a few tactics to help you out. The first one is obvious – buy loads of extra socks and pants, as these are the things you really don’t want to wear twice. Then, buy a small laundry basket and do a wash whenever it gets full, so that you always have some emergency undies to spare.

Doing the laundry is a pretty boring task, so rope in a friend. Arrange a time once a week where you load up your washing, grab a fancy coffee and have a good catch up. If it’s a regular social thing, you’re much less likely to bail.

In Student Housing Company Accommodation you can you can even check online to see if there’s machines free, and set up email alerts to let you know when your wash is finished – so there’s really no excuse!

Washing whites, colours and delicates

Your parents will probably tell you that whites and colours should in no circumstances ever be put in the wash together. However, life is too short to sit there in your room sifting through smelly socks.

New, dark-coloured items like jeans and jumpers could release dye in the first couple of washes, but will usually be fine after that. Use your common sense though – it probably isn’t worth the risk of putting your favourite white t-shirt in with your darkest indigo jeans.

Some wools and synthetic fabrics will need to be treated with more care, with either a delicate cycle in the machine or washing by hand. The last thing you want is to ruin your delicates though, so if in doubt go for a hand wash or take them to your resident laundry expert back home.

What about detergent?

Wandering down the laundry isle in the supermarket you’ll be astonished at the variety of different powders, tablets, liquids and softeners that people have bothered to invent. One easy way to choose is to go for what your family use at home. Alternatively, here’s a few pointers:

  • Tablets that go directly into the drum are the easiest and least messy option.
  • Biological detergents have special enzymes in them to help break down stains and dirt. They’re good for quick, low temperature washes, or if you’re washing really filthy sports kit.
  • Non-biological detergents don’t have the enzymes, which makes them kinder to sensitive skins.
  • Fabric softener is an optional extra. It will make your clothes feel softer and smell nice, but is bad for the environment and could aggravate sensitive skin.

When you come to use your detergent, just follow the instructions on the box. Powders and liquids will go in the draw, which will probably have three compartments – use the one marked II for your detergent, and the one with the flower symbol for conditioner. Most tablets just get chucked in the drum with your clothes.

The box will also tell you how much detergent to use, based on how much stuff you’re washing and how dirty it is.

What washing machine setting should I use?

It’s important to pick the right setting; otherwise you could end up with a wardrobe full of crop tops and three quarter length trousers – not a good look!

The labels on your clothes will tell you what to do, including what temperature and cycle to use, how to dry them and how to iron them (although let’s face it, there probably won’t be much of that going on!) The symbols might look like something off the pyramids, but this guide to wash symbols will help you decode them.

Then it’s just a matter of picking the right setting on your machine. Most machines make life easy by giving you the choice of whites, colours, synthetics or delicates. If you aren’t sure what to go for, the synthetics cycle is a safe bet for most fabrics – although watch out for wool and silks that require delicate treatment.

How do I dry my laundry?

Easy, really – stick it in the dryer! You don’t want to shrink your stuff after you’ve got so far though, so pick the temperature wisely. Choose 140˚ – 150˚ for general stuff, 160˚ for cottons like bed sheets and towels, and 110˚ – 120˚ for delicates.

Again it’s important to check the labels, as some clothes are not suitable for tumble dryers and will have to air-dry in your room instead. Spread out your things on radiators and chair backs to speed up the process, and if you have lots of delicates a drying rack will maximise drying space.

Finally, make sure that everything is completely dry before you put it away, otherwise you’ll end up with clothes that smell even worse than they did in the first place.

Good luck!

Stress-free student living

Student Housing Company accommodation is carefully designed to take the stress out of living away from home, so you can get on with enjoying the good stuff.

Our sites all have handy Circuit laundry facilities – you can check online when a machine is free or when your laundry is done, and easily top up your account from your room. And if that wasn’t enough, there are maintenance services, wifi and Freeview television too.

Keep reading our blog for more great tips about student living.

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