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Laundry 101: Do your kids know how to wash their own clothes?

The cycle you choose on your machine is important if you want your clothes to last longer

If you have a student heading off to college, they might be clueless about how to do laundry on their own.

Or, they may have some experience like Gabriella Garita, who is about to start her first year in college.

“I think I actually started doing my own laundry in like seventh or eighth grade,” she said.

Gabriella’s head start will pay off, said Consumer Reports home editor Keith Flamer. He’s found there’s always a laundry lesson to learn whether you’re a novice or you’ve been laundering as long as Gabriella.

Lesson one: Keep it cool – for the most part.

“Hot water accounts for about 90% of a washing machine’s energy. We’ve been conditioned to think that everything needs to be sanitized and washed in the hottest water,” Flamer said.

Consumer Reports tests have found detergents nowadays are much better at removing dirt and stains at lower temperatures. So, Flamer says you can reserve the hot water for tackling oily stains or for washing sheets and towels if a family member is sick. For everything else, check the care label and opt for cold water when you can.

Lesson two: Less is more!

Never overload your washer. It can damage the machine and it won’t clean as well if it’s packed to the gills. The same is true when it comes to detergent.

“Many people are under the false impression that more detergent will get your clothes cleaner but too much detergent is bad for the environment plus it can leave more residue on your clothes,” Flamer said.

Lesson three: Yes, keep your laundry separated!

Flamer says mixing loads on most cycles causes more fabric friction which can shorten the lifespan of your clothes.

READ: Make efficient use of your washer and dryer

Consumer Reports says choosing the right cycle on your machine is important if you want your clothes to last longer. While you may rely on the normal cycle a lot, did you know that’s the wrong cycle for your jeans? Watch the video below from Consumer Reports to learn the right cycles for whatever you are trying to wash.

How to extend the life your clothes by the choices you wake when washing them.

By the way, Gabriella has her own lesson to share for those who will be doing their laundry for the first time: Fold your clothes as soon as they’re done drying.

“Try to just do it all in one shot and get it over with,” she said.