It’s happening. All over the country, young people are headed back to college after holiday break. Tens of thousands of bright-eyed co-eds are leaving homes with suitcases of freshly folded laundry, and some new garments with new care instructions to ignore.

No matter how many laundry baskets and quarters you send them back to school with, the clean clothes you helped pack may never look or smell as good as they do right now. Sadly, you can lead a co-ed to a washing machine, but you cannot make her sort or check her pockets.

I have two beautiful, laundry-challenged daughters, and I know of what I speak. And I am here to help.

Becky Blades and daughters with laundry basket

I have searched the internet and found the best help its moms and soap companies have to offer. I have reviewed dozens of ‘How to Do Laundry’ articles to find those that just might penetrate the attention spans of your newly launched loved one.

Each has its own unique tips, which is why I say SEND THEM ALL. But not all at once. One strategy: send one each week of the first semester. That way, you are sure to hit your loved one’s mailbox within days of him/her running out of clean underwear. This, according to, is the most common determinant of when Freshmen decide to do their laundry. Like I said, it’s terrifying.

  1. 5 steps from Tide. Includes “pop in a Pod.” (No, I am not getting paid by Tide, but I’m all for simplicity, and Pods do take out the guesswork.)
  2. 6 steps from Includes directions on “how to find the laundry room.”
  3. 7.5 Steps from University All the basics, plus laundry room etiquette!
  4. Wikihow’s 8 idiot-proof steps Complete with pictures.
  5. A loving 9-step process from To be fair, two of the steps are “Do homework.” (This is all I’m saying, kids.)
  6. 10 Easy Steps from Smart like they are, they include “push START.”
  7. If your coed did not follow instructions and needs to hit rewind after shrinking her favorite jeans, save the day with this: How to Unshrink Clothes: The Ultimate Guide from Tips Bulletin.

    BONUS: If reading is too much to expect of your coed, try this video: Laundry Virgin from DormCo

    Finally, if you are one of the skilled or lucky parents who created a laundry-capable adult, reward them with this: Advanced laundry moves from LifeHacker

So may the force and the Clorox be with you, moms, dads, and roommates with highly developed olifactory glands. Stay strong, and keep up the fight with information and repetition.

I was so worried about this topic when I wrote a book of off-to-life advice for my daughters, that I titled it as a laundry threat. It’s more about happiness than hygiene, but as every mom knows, in so many ways, one can jeopardize the other.

If you want to sneak in laundry lessons disguised as winks and hugs, may I recommend Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening.

do your laundry or you'll die alone book in laundry basket

It makes a perfect first college CARE package.

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do your laundry or die alone author becky blades

Becky Blades, Author of Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone, and contributor to Huffington Post,, Scary Mommy, and Grown & Flown.