Doing laundry for the first time can be overwhelming, especially if you’re finally living on your own and learning the ropes by yourself. Keep in mind the following tips and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining your own closet of clean clothes in no time.

How to Sort Laundry

Laundry 101: Laundry Care Advice For Beginners

Using a sorter or multiple laundry baskets for this task is ideal, but you can sort your laundry in piles on the bed, if necessary. Sort the laundry into piles according to whether they’re white, dark, or lightly colored. Make sure to sort towels and dishcloths into their own pile, so they can be washed together. You’ll also want to separate any delicates (i.e., lacy tops, thin sweaters, etc.) in order to reserve them for the gentle cycle.

How to Pre-Treat Stains

When you come across any stained items, pre-treat them before putting them in the washing machine. You can do this by simply applying some detergent to the stain, rubbing it gently, and then letting it set for a few minutes. For tougher stains, fill the sink with lukewarm water and a little bit of all-fabric bleach (not regular bleach, as this can only be used on whites) and allow the clothing to soak for up to 30 minutes. Rub the stains gently every once in a while during this process, and then continue with the wash cycle.

How to Operate the Washing Machine

Add your laundry to the washing machine. If you have a standard top loader, measure out a capful of detergent and pour it directly into the drum with your dirty clothes. For high-efficiency front loader machines, such as the LG front loaders, you’ll need to open the detergent drawer and add the detergent there. Select the water temperature and setting most appropriate for your load of laundry (you can check this by reading the labels on the clothing). A good rule of thumb to remember is that whites should generally be washed in hot water, while darker colors should be washed in cold. If you’re not sure how to make these selections on the machine, refer to the washer’s manual.

How to Dry Laundry

Laundry 101: Laundry Care Advice For Beginners

Most laundry can go from the wash cycle directly into the dryer. Some items, however, should be air-dried or laid flat to dry. This can include sweaters, athletic wear, and swimsuits. Refer to the clothing labels to see which ones need to be hung up or laid out on a flat surface to dry. Also, carefully check the washer’s drum to make sure you didn’t miss a washcloth or sock.

When you’re ready, simply toss the clothing into the dryer and select the heat setting. Clothes that could potentially shrink should be dried on low heat, while towels and sheets can hold up to higher heat settings. Avoid over-drying and remove clothing as soon as the dryer completes its cycle in order to avoid wrinkles and fabric damage.

And that’s it! You’ve successfully completed laundry day. Now all you need to do is fold your laundry and put it away.