FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY

Do any of us really know how to do laundry?

Last Sunday, I pulled out my new white shirt from the washer and it was stained pink — just a massive, in-your-face blotch on my shirt a day before an interview.

How could this happen to me?

I’ve been doing laundry for the past four years, and now it turns out that after all this time I’ve been doing it all wrong.

If you’re anything like me, you probably take a pile of dirty clothes, shove them into the washing machine, throw in detergent, pick both the cycle and temperature based on absolutely no logic, and then let the beautiful pièce de résistance do its magic.

Well, if you can relate to the above, then this is for you. And to those of you rolling your eyes, good for you. You’re nailin’ adulting. Love that — but I can’t relate.

After the last astronomical disaster, I finally went ahead and did some research. I typed “how to do laundry” on Google, and there it was: a long, verbose list of articles claiming to know the secret to doing laundry perfectly. There was an entire page dedicated to whites, a different one for knitwear, another one for colours — each with their own list of instructions.

But don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the details of each of them. I know we’re all busy U of T students, which only gives us time to skim through online readings before getting back to our actual readings.

So, I’ve compiled a brief list of things that’ll help you preserve your Canada Goose jackets, woolen sweaters, and your white shirts for a little longer — or, at least, until after the interview.

1. Do not mix your whites with colours. Come on, don’t do it!

I know that we’re all lazy and that nobody wants to do two cycles, but mixing really ruins your garms. Even if there’s no colour leak, the materials for the two are usually quite different and your whites will get damaged.

2. Best way to load a washing machine? Use the Palm Rule

You need to give your clothes enough space to tumble and spin. If you overload the washer, then your clothes won’t get washed properly. On the other hand, if its not loaded enough, then you’re wasting water. Hence, the palm trick! Place your hand in the drum, and if your hand fits between your clothes and the wall of the drum, then you have the perfect load size.

3. Know your laundry symbols

You know those tiny white clothing labels that are sewn on the inside of your clothes and have all these fancy shapes that are practically incomprehensible? Yes, those! They are important. Some clothes can’t be washed with bleach, some need to be washed with cold water, and some shouldn’t be washed at all! Knowing these could really save your clothes from damage.

4. Now, about your knitwear — this is important to know because we live in a freezer for eight months

First, it’s never a good idea to wash your wool clothes often. Every time you wash them, a little more damage is done to the fibres. If you can’t eat a burrito right and end up spilling sauce on your sweaters, just clean the stain using bleach or stain remover, but please, remember to first check if you’re allowed to use bleach. Secondly, if you want to wash ‘unstructured’ wool pieces, like sweaters, blankets, and scarves, wash them on a delicate cycle in the washer. Always use cool water and gentle detergent; otherwise, it will shrink.

5. A little more complicated advice on the type of wash cycle, but stay with me…

Try using normal or regular cycle for whites, sheets, towels, undergarments, and socks. Always use a permanent-press cycle for jeans, non-cotton items, knits, and polyesters, and a delicate cycle for wool, silk, and other fragile garments. Great, you finally know what the permanent-press cycle is used for!

6. A few things that you should never, ever put in the dryer

Silk, lace, activewear, and pantyhose — now you know why your tights get torn so quickly! Also: those dryer sheets? They can actually be bad for your health. According to a few doctors, they might even be bad for your skin. So, even if you don’t take anything away from this article — and continue to shove all your clothes into one load, or take your laundry back to your parents house every two weeks — you can at least save money on those dryer sheets!

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