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Blowing the Load

Everything your girlfriend wants you to know about doing her laundry

It’s true that it can be intimidating for a guy to handle his girlfriend’s laundry for the first time: Is that… a dress? A shirt? Why does it have so many straps? Why is it made of five different fabrics? But the reality is, like it or not (and intimidated or not), you’re going to be faced with the task of sharing the load (so to speak) once you move in together. That being the case, we spoke to a few female friends — and gathered a couple of great anecdotes online — about how not to completely ruin her clothes when trying to clean them with large machinery and detergent. Spoiler alert: It’s not rocket science.

“When I first moved in with my husband (then boyfriend), he was scared to even touch my laundry,” says Danielle R., a 28-year-old registered nurse who’s been married for five years. “I think he heard some horror story about a girl who broke up with his friend over some expensive clothes he ruined or something. I don’t remember exactly what the deal was, he just avoided my laundry like the plague.

“I didn’t really care too much since we were both used to doing our own, but when I started nursing school, I was busy and tired all the time so I asked him to throw my stuff in with his when he could. He flatly said no as he didn’t want to be held responsible. He washed all his stuff the same way — warm water, high heat — and he knew I had some fancy clothes. I’m pretty Type-A, so I sat down to make a chart for him. [It was essentially] darks are cold wash, dry medium. Lights are warm wash, dry medium. Lingerie and any delicates are wash cold, hang dry. Worked like a charm.”

“Follow the four S’s,” writes countrymouse in the LifeProTips subreddit. “When you’re switching clothes from the washer to the dryer, remember: If it’s Sexy, Stretchy, Sheer or Sheep (wool sweaters, etc.), hang it up to dry. When in doubt, leave it out (of the dryer). Messing up/shrinking/ruining her bras, sporty stuff, and delicate clothing will put a sour note on your nice gesture. I taught this to my boyfriend when we moved in together, and nine months later, no ruined clothing!”

“It used to bother me that my husband just threw everything — darks, whites, towels, whatever — together in one load,” says Nicole S., a 32-year-old teacher who’s been married for seven years. “Most of his clothes have always been thrifted, so he claims he never had a problem with color bleeding. I’m no laundry expert, but sorting always just seemed like common sense. He did actually do the typical red-thing-in-with-whites at one point and ended up with some pink thermals a while ago so he learned his lesson.

“He’s the type of guy who needs to see or do everything for himself before really listening to advice, so I guess it worked out — I’m just glad he wasn’t washing my stuff when it happened!”

“I always wash everything in cold water, mostly to save money but also because someone once told me that washing in hot water doesn’t necessarily get your clothes any cleaner than cold,” says Jackie B., a 31-year-old account manager who’s been married for five years. “I don’t know how true that is, but the saving money part stuck with me! I told my husband the same thing, so we both do laundry the same way: wash on cold/delicate, dry on low. It makes things super easy. The only exception is sheets and towels, which we wash and dry on high heat.”

“My husband and I share laundry duty, so before we got married, I thought up a plan,” a commenter on Apartment Therapy responded on the post, “Do You Do Each Other’s Laundry?” “We have two laundry baskets: One is ‘Anything Goes’ — wash normal, dry normal. The other is ‘Check the Tags’ — usually wash cold and hang dry or dry low. He’s only shrunk one shirt in nearly four years (it was a good one though), so it’s been working for us so far.”