Fall semester is upon us and it's time for college freshmen to start learning how to take care of themselves. You may have been doing your own laundry for a while now, but it's completely different when you have to buy your own products and use different machines. No matter what your clothes-washing experience is, hopefully this article will help you pick up a few tips and tricks you didn't know before.

1. Maximize the use out of your clothes.

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Take a moment to think about how much you actually need to wash your clothes, and make sure your dorm closet reflects that. Bring extra underwear and socks because those you wash after each use. You probably don't need to bring many pairs of jeans, and it's actually better for the jeans if you wash them infrequently and after several uses. Sweatshirts and cardigans can be worn plenty of times, especially chunkier ones that take up more room in the washing machine. Washing your clothes consciously is not only saves water, but also a lot of time and money.

2. Figure out if any of your clothes have special requirements.

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This is going to include anything like "hand-wash only" or "hang dry" items. Don't bring too many clothes that need to be hand-washed, and again try to get as much use out of it as possible in between washes. Items that need to be hung dry or dry flat also need to be thought of in advance, because you need to make sure you have a place where it can dry. Also take note of any items that need to be washed on delicate or inside out, always double checking the tags every time you put in a load of laundry just to be sure. 

3. Learn how to read a clothing label.

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While this definitely isn't as common nowadays, not every piece of clothing you have will have easily readable instructions on the tag. Some only have those weird symbols that almost look like they could be hieroglyphs. But fear not, just consult this handy chart whenever you run into one.

4. Separate clothes by color whenever possible.

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I know you've probably heard that you don't really have to do this, but there's a reason why you're supposed to do it this way. This prevents colors from bleeding into each other, and in turn, helps your clothes look new. You don't have to do one load of just red or blue clothes, but try separating into whites, light colors, and dark colors/blacks. This also affects the temperature, as whites are typically washed in warm water while darks almost always use cold water.

5. Choose your supplies.

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One of the most popular choices among college students is the Tide Pod because it's fairly cheap and contains a detergent and a stain fighter. Others will choose to use a liquid laundry soap or detergent (the difference is that soap is naturally derived while detergent is synthetic), and possibly pair it with a stain fighter such as OxiClean. You can also choose to add fabric softener, but this is probably the least used of everything else I've mentioned and definitely depends on your personal preference.

Also, make sure you don't pack in your clothes too tightly into the washing machine! There needs to be enough room for everything to move around, so the products are evenly distributed.

6. Set a timer.

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This one may seem kind of obvious, but you don't want to be late to get your clothes. Somebody else may be waiting to use the machine, or there's always the chance that somebody would outright steal your clothes, and you definitely don't want to forget your clothes entirely because you're too busy binge-watching Parks and Recreation for the fourth time. And on a similar note, don't try to throw in a load while you're in class or out of the dorm in general. You never know what you'll get caught up with, so it's better to just stay put.

7. Use wool dryer balls.

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Wool dryer balls are a great alternative to disposable dryer sheets! They do take up a bit more room in your dorm than a little dryer sheet box would, but they last a long time and will save you money (and, not to mention, the planet). If you're feeling crafty, you can also make your own with these instructions. Just toss them into the dryer like you normally would with a sheet, and you're good to go. Just make sure not to leave them behind when your clothes are done!

8. Learn how to treat a stain.

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Whether you've dripped ketchup on your new shirt or you leaked on your period, you're going to have to treat a stain at some point. As soon as you notice a stain on your clothes, take measures to get it out. This can mean running it under the sink in the nearest bathroom or changing entirely to let it soak (keeping a small bucket handy will help our with this). You can also keep a stain stick in your bag and treat it with that. If it still hasn't come out, try a trick from this list by Real Simple

With everything going on in college, the last thing we need to stress about is laundry. And when in doubt, just ask your RA. There's no shame in asking for help with figuring out your laundry, as long as you don't make it a habit. And they will definitely feel better knowing that you keep up with your personal hygiene. So what are you waiting for? Grab a basket and get to work!

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