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Laundry Tips for Students

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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The opening days of school and college are only a few weeks away. As students go off to the dorm or apartment and do laundry on their own, the decision of when and how to launder items can be a challenge. Many of the dorms have washing machines requiring the "HE" detergent. It is good to review with those going away to school or anyone at home who assists with laundry the basic tips for successful laundry results.

These include how to check the care label and how to sort laundry to avoid fading and shrinking, etc. and how often items should be washed. The sniff test may tell you if they wore enough deodorant, but doesn’t always work when deciding if one needs to wash your clothes. What you do, the fabric type, the wear and the weather can play a deciding factor. The American Cleaning Institute offers these tips to help determine if it’s time to wash those bed sheets, jeans, shirts, socks and underwear.

  • Bed sheets should be washed at least every two weeks, more often if you sweat a lot at night.
  • Pajamas should be washed after 3 or 4 wears (if you shower before bed, you may get a few more wears before washing).
  • Bath towels should be hung to dry between uses and washed after 3 or 4 normal uses or more frequently, if you do sports.
  • Underwear and socks should be washed after each wearing.
  • Bras can be worn 2 to 3 times before washing. Be sure to give your bra a rest day in between wearing to give the elastic a chance to regain its shape.
  • T-shirts, tank tops and camisoles should be washed after each wearing.
  • Outer clothes like dress shirts and kakis can be worn a few times before washing unless it is hot out and you are sweating or they are visibly dirty or stained.
  • Jeans can typically be worn three times before washing.
  • Leggings and tights should be washed after every wear to get rid of the baggy knees.
  • Typically suits can be worn several times during normal use before dry cleaning (3 to 4 times for wool and 4 to 5 times for synthetics). Depending on your lifestyle or environment you may need to dry clean more often. Smoky bars, smog or smelly environments or if your suit gets stained may mean you need to clean them more often.
  • Bathing suits should be washed after every wear.
  • Exceptions to the rules: whites and silks are prone to discoloration and should be cleaned after every wear.

If your clothes get stained, wash, spot clean or dry clean as soon as possible — this will extend the garment’s life which will be greener in the long run since you won’t need to replace the item. Towels will be more absorbent if you do not use fabric softener when washing them. Always remember to read clothing labels, use the right amount of detergent and sort item according to color and type of fabric. If you follow these simple hints your items will last longer and there will be fewer laundry accidents.


Ask Lorene

(This resource was added July 2012 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180