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Forget dumping the colored clothes in with the whites. Forget skipping on the chlorine bleach to save money. Forget washing everything in hot/warm/cold water. There is an easier, softer, simpler way guaranteed to make you look good without hiding your laundry disasters behind a jacket. Following these directions, your laundry will look almost as good as the first time you washed them.

First off, spend a little money on supplies. 1) Find a sale and invest in a large laundry basket. Do not use a laundry bag unless you are dropping your clothes off for someone else to clean or you do not mind wearing wrinkled duds. 2) Buy the best laundry soap you can afford. The concentrated brands give you more bang for your buck, and they require less shelf space at home. 3) Buy the cheapest chlorine bleach you can find. It does not have to smell lemony or claim to perform miracles. Generic bleach is fine for laundry and any other kind of cleaning. 4) If you like your clothes nice and soft and static-free, invest in fabric softener. Buy the generic sheets for the electric/gas dryer or liquid for the solar dryer. 5) You will also need a plastic, 1-cup measuring cup. If you use a laundromat, also bring your coins (lots of them) and some reading material. If you have free laundry somewhere else, you have it so easy!

Put all your dirties in the basket along with your supplies and head for the laundromat or the washing machine. Once there, you will need to separate your laundry into two piles. One pile will be ALL white clothes and the other will be colored clothes. Do not try to sneak in a red-and-white striped polo shirt with the other whites, unless you really dig pink underwear.

Put the white clothes into a washing machine. DO NOT try to compact all your whites into the machine if you have not done wash in a month. The point is to wash clothes thoroughly and then rinse all the soap out. If you squish 20 pounds of clothes into a 10-pound drum, you may cause the machine to break just before the spin cycle. If all else fails, read the directions on the underside of the washer lid.

Select hot wash/cold rinse, put your money into the slot, and start filling. Follow the directions on your detergent box for measuring the soap (some even come with their own handy measuring cup), and put it in over your clothes. If the washer has a bleach dispenser, use it. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the washer is filled to add it; same thing for the liquid fabric softener. Close the lid (some machines will not fill unless you do). The whites are set for a while!

Now the colors come next. Follow the above directions including being careful about overloading the washer. Most people use two or three washers to get all their colors done. Use warm wash/cold rinse and DO NOT even think about using chlorine bleach on colored clothes! You will look like a throwback from the 1960’s in bleached-out clothes.

If you use liquid fabric softener and there is a handy dispenser in the washer, take advantage of it. Without a dispenser, you will have to wait until the final rinse to add the softener. This is why dryer sheets are so much better than a liquid softener if clothes dryers are used. For the convenience, a few pennies more is worth it. For the liquid softener/clothes dryer people, if you miss that final rinse to put your softener in, fret not! If you put one to two tablespoons on a washcloth or a sock (wet) and throw it in the dryer with the rest of your clothes, they will still come out soft and smelling fresh!

All you people who hang their clothes out on the line to dry, you are dismissed. If you all used liquid fabric softener in the final rinse, your clothes will dry with less wrinkling and not feel as though they had gone through a cement press. The rest of you listen up. This is the only time your laundry can mingle: the dryer. Before you get all excited at saving some money, you need to know that 1) you still cannot over fill the machine, 2) your whites and colors dry better at different temperatures, and 3) you may not save that much money in the long run. It will take longer to dry your clothes if you put them all together in that massively tempting dryer barrel. It is recommended that your clothes dry at the same temperature they were washed. Do not forget the softener dryer sheet, unless you like conducting electricity when pulling your clothes out.

As your clothes become dry, quickly pull them out of the dryer and restart the machine. Fold what you pulled out and put it into your basket. You will have less wrinkling if you do it this way instead of piling them in the basket to fold later. If what you removed is still damp, throw it back into the dryer quickly. The reason for the quickness with the dryer is so you do not have to shell out so many coins to get your clothes dry. It can cost $2-3 to dry one washerful of clothes these days! If you pull out and fold as you go along, the items that take more time to dry will acquire more room to do just that. All you have to do is frugally feed the dryer quarters as you do your spot checks and fold.

There is no mystery to doing laundry. It is a minor inconvenience, but it is certainly a doable one. Everyone has to either do their own laundry, have someone else do it, wear dirty clothes, or go around naked. Now, which would you rather do? Now, which is the reality?