Beginner’s guide to doing laundry


It’s time to clean up. With laundry, singles tend to mix whites and blacks, own very few finicky ones, and think the permanent press is a complex NFL defense.

I know it’s a cliché, but I’m one of those guys — at least I was, before I took a crash course in Consumer Reports’ laundry lab. You could be too. Student, career climber, confirmed single or divorced father. But whether you’re a pajama stretcher like The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” or a fashionable laundry freak like Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho”—or hopefully somewhere between those extremes—I can- be help you to speed up your Game.

Is this guide exclusive to singles? Of course not. Women can be just as bad at these things, and I wouldn’t assume that marriage suddenly forces a man to learn laundry.

It contains information that can help any laundry novice easily handle the chore. But I’ve witnessed the damage guys can inflict on washing machines, dryers, and their clothes. I survived college roommates and mountains of dirty, smelly laundry.

So I clear the air. What might be obvious to some may be telling for the laundry clumsy too embarrassed to admit they washed a leather jacket. (Don’t do that, by the way.)

Over the past year, I’ve picked the brains of CR’s test engineers, talked to experts, explored washer and dryer settings, and even deciphered appliance manuals. Here are eight lessons I learned along the way, starting at the beginning with the basics.


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