Use these free printables to easily teach your teens to take care of their laundry.
Tips for Teens- Laundry How-To
As part of my daughter, Natalie’s preparation for leaving home to attend art school, we are working to ensure that she knows all that she will need to know in order to live on her own. While Natalie is quite capable of figuring things out on her own, I feel taking the lead and teaching her some of these home-keeping tasks will cut down on her learning curve time. The first area that we are focusing on is home keeping, beginning with laundry care. Whether your teen is preparing to move out on their own or you just want to teach
Admittedly, I’m one of those “different” people that actually enjoys doing laundry. I know, I know, laundry is the bane of many homemakers. I’ve been doing laundry since I was 8 years old when my Mom got tired of finding clean clothes mixed with dirty and turned our laundry detail over to my brothers and me.
But, I digress, sorry!
Since we are working on laundry, I thought I’d share with you what we are doing. Perhaps you have a child getting older and in the same boat as my Natalie. Or perhaps you just want a refresher on this laundry stuff.
Laundry care begins with the purchase of a piece of clothing. All new pieces of clothing have tags with symbols on them. Learning to read those tags is the first step in learning how to care for the item.
The different symbols will tell you if the item can be machine washed or not, whether it should be washed in cold water or hot, whether it should be tumble or line dried, and more. Obviously, you will begin to know how to care for each piece of clothing over time. It’s good to check those tags before purchasing new clothes. If you see a great deal on a blouse, but find that it’s dry clean only, it may not actually be such a great deal when you factor in the long-term care of it.
Once you own those pieces of clothing, how do you care for them?
The next step in laundry care is after wearing each day. Take note of any stains during wear. Treat those stains as soon as possible after wearing them. Empty pockets. Shake out loose dirt from cuffs of pants. Close zippers, hooks, and eyes. Tie strings and sashes loosely. Remove belts, pins, or trims that are not washable. Close bra hooks.
To be prepared for laundry day, stock up on laundry detergent, fabric softener, bleach, and non-chlorine bleach.
When laundry day arrives, it’s time to sort the laundry. Admittedly, most of our clothes are so well-worn that I don’t separate whites and darks. However, any new clothing is washed separately with like colors. I do wash any towels, washcloths, kitchen towels, and such separately. I don’t use fabric softener on those items. Another way that I separate is lint givers such as terrycloth from the lint takers such as corduroy. Delicate items such as sweaters should be washed separately from heavier items such as jeans.
Another thing to be aware of is color bleeding. This occurs when unstable dyes are used and bleed from one item to another. Some newer garments are overdyed to produce very rich bright colors. Sorting these items out and washing them separately are the best ways to prevent this bleeding. Once the items come out of the washer, avoid prolonged contact of damp items also helps.
If dye transfer does happen, DO NOT put those items into the dryer. Instead, pre-treat and relaunder in warm water. For whites, as a very last resort, use a commercial color remover. Another option is to relaunder and then hang the items on the line to allow the sun to “bleach” the items.
Pre-treat any stains that may be present on the clothing. Ideally, this pre-treater would be applied right after taking the item off. (If you don’t have access to a pre-treater, baby wipes work on a multitude of small stains!) For any stain that is unknown, soak the item in cold water for 20 minutes, then pre-treat and launder with the rest of the like items.
Here are some stain removal ideas:
Ink- rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or hair spray- then rinse with cold water.
Gum- freeze with an ice cube, then it should rub off
Blood- hydrogen peroxide works wonders!
Food grease- dish detergent or stain remover
Chocolate- rinse first, then treat with stain remover
Makeup- rinse away any powder without rubbing, then treat with stain remover
Tomato-based foods- rinse with cold water, then treat with stain remover
After separating the laundry, it’s time to decide how large each load will be. There’s no need to set the load size on super large if it’s only a small load. On that note, I try to not wash small loads. I try to wait until I have at least medium loads before washing. (with a family of six, it’s not terribly difficult to have at least medium loads!) Be sure also to not overload the washer.
Select the load size, then turn the washer on and let the water begin filling. Pour out the desired amount of laundry detergent and pour it into the washer tub. It is important to measure the detergent as more than is necessary is not needed nor better for washing. If using fabric softener, measure that out and add it as well. Add the laundry to the washer loosely. This means to not pack the laundry in the washer. The clothing needs to circulate while washing.
If you’re concerned about a clothing item being bleach-safe, here is a super quick test:
Mix 1 Tablespoon liquid bleach with 1/4 cup water.
Dab 1 drop of this solution on a hidden part of an item such as an inside seam, hemline, or cuff.
Be sure to test any decorative trim or ribbon as well.
Wait 1 minute, then blot dry with a paper towel.
If there is no change, the fabric can be safely washed with liquid bleach.
If using bleach in your load of laundry, I allow the washer to fill half-way, then add the bleach, BEFORE adding the clothing. This way, the bleach is diluted before the clothing is added. No risk of bleach hitting the clothing and, well, bleaching them out.
The next step in laundry care is finishing the job!
Allow the washer to complete the cycle, then it’s time to decide how you will dry the clothes. I am a big fan of line-drying our clothes outside. However, during the dead of winter or the dead of summer, you won’t find me out there hanging laundry! Some clothing items shouldn’t be line-dried. Some items can’t be dried in the dryer. Some items can be dried at higher temps than others. Again, those helpful symbols on the clothing tags are your guide for proper care.
When adding laundry to the dryer, be sure to shake them out so that they are not bunched up. This will allow for quicker drying. Always check that any stains are removed before drying! Once it’s dried, the stain is typically set in.
Be sure to keep the dryer lint filter cleaned out between uses. Letting the lint filter build-up is a fire hazard. It also increases the drying time for each load. Also, be sure to remove that lint filter and clean behind it as well. My husband had to replace a part in our dryer and we were appalled to find just how much lint build-up there was behind the filter. Every 3-4 months, pull the dryer away from the wall and check the exhaust pipe. You are checking for any lint build-up as well as any cracks in the pipe.
Removing laundry from the dryer promptly is super helpful to prevent wrinkles. I like to fold the laundry as I take it out of the dryer. We do have a flat surface next to the dryer, which happens to be our large chest freezer. I tend to grab the shirts to be ironed out first. I fold those in half, to keep wrinkles at bay. Next, I pull out the larger pieces, which is usually jeans. Next, would be workout pants, then shorts, t-shirts, and such. This only leaves underwear and socks typically.
Once the laundry is folded, start new loads of laundry. My secret for getting laundry put away? Don’t let it build up! Take that folded load and put it all away right then. Don’t wait for the next load to do this job.
When I get this load of clothes to the bedroom, I hang the dress shirts in the front of the section of the closet. I leave them unbuttoned. Once I iron the shirt, I button the top button. This makes it easy to see which shirts need to be ironed and which are already done at a glance.
When it’s time to iron, remember those clothing labels. They will tell you which setting to use on the iron- any setting, low heat, high heat, steam, no steam, etc.
While there are many steps to doing the laundry, those steps will become second nature in no time. Give your children the tools they need to learn to do this job well and instill confidence in their ability to be on their own. It’s the little things in life that matter. Knowing how to take care of their laundry is one important step in a teen being ready to live on their own!
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