(Family Circle) How many time have your kids brought their laundry home. It's time to get your child in on the laundry game, cause college or moving out is coming and they need to know. The best way to get a handle on doing laundry is to understand how the washer and dryer affect each load:

The Washer Lowdown

Cycle Length
This is how long the machine cleans your clothes, and it follows common sense; smaller, minimally soiled loads need less time. Rule of thumb: Choose the shortest possible cycle, as the less time clothing spins around, the longer it will last.

Cycle Speed
A normal/regular cycle is best for bulky items because it's the least gentle. Permanent press if almost always the go-to, since it's gentler but also effective at keeping wrinkles at bay. The delicate cycle should be reserved for, well, delicates. It's great for embellished clothing as well as fine fabrics.

Water Temperature
When in doubt, go cold it's more energy-efficient and less taxing on fabric. Separating lights from darks for fear of hot-water bleeding is an outmoded extra step, since most washing machines and detergents have been developed to perform well in cold water.

Now for the Dryer

The highest heat setting, which is likely too hot for most clothing. It does work well, though, on heavy items like towels, denim and sweatshirts.

Permanent Press
Speaks for itself, because it's designed to reduce wrinkling with medium heat and a cool-down period at the end of the cycle. Pretty much all your clothes will thank you when you opt for this setting.

Is for delicates, since the low heat is gentle on clothing made of stretch and shrink-prone fabrics. This setting is also good for clothes that tend to retain smells because heat traps all that nasty in.

While this isn't technically a dryer category, it is definitely worth using whenever possible. Air-drying is a fool-proof way to make sure clothes don't shrink, trap in stink or become faded.


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