A Teenager’s Guide to Laundry

Dear Beloved Teenager of Mine,

You’re growing up fast, but I understand that you’re still, at heart, a child. With so much to learn.

Like how laundry works.

Laundry is very confusing and complicated and nobody blames you for not quite understanding it. I mean, just because you can programme your new mobile phone and work out how to hide your secret Instagram account from me, doesn’t mean you know about why and how we wear clean clothes!

So today I, your loving mother, want to share some amazing insights and knowledge that it seems you haven’t yet absorbed in fourteen years on the planet.

Clothes don’t Clean Themselves

When you wear clothes on your body, they become dirty.

Some of the dirt comes from outside (that pasta sauce you dropped down your front because you were using your phone AND watching TV while eating dinner). Some of the dirt comes from inside, like sweat.

Remember that super-awkward lesson at school about the magical and natural changes your body is going through? Yeah. You smell, sometimes. Especially when you’ve spent a full day at school, marching in your CCF kit.

teenager laundry basket

Laundry Basket Lids Can Open

When you were younger, I made the mistake of buying you a laundry basket with a lid. I appreciate now that this was totally unacceptable, because how is a mere child supposed to know how this fiendishly complex technology works?

For reference, here is the process of using a laundry basket. Grab hold of the top piece of the basket (we call it “the lid”) and pull it upwards. Once the lid has been lifted, you can put clothes inside.

Hopefully this picture guide will help you to learn how easy it can be to put clothes inside the basket, rather than dropping them on the floor! It’s exciting to learn new things!

Sometimes you Can Just Drop Clothes Inside

I know, I know. Lids are hard. Just because you can do quadratic equations and speak three languages doesn’t mean you’re a genius, after all.

That’s why I recently bought you a new laundry basket. It’s better because it DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A LID.

teenagers guide to doing laundry

With this laundry basket, you can just drop clothes in it. How lit is that?

I thought this would be just the same as dropping clothes on the floor, except you drop them in a different spot. But I was wrong. Even with your years of sports training, it turns out your bedroom floor still looks like this:

teenager bedroom floor

I’m still trying to work out why it’s STILL easier to drop your clothes on the floor next to a basket, rather than in the basket, but perhaps it’s eye strain from all that studying you’re doing. Poor thing.

Some Clothes are Clean, and Some are Dirty

Remember when we used to watch Sesame Street and we’d sing about “one of these things is not like the others”? 

Clothes are a bit like that. Some clothes are CLEAN and other clothes are DIRTY.

You’ll know the difference because the clean clothes smell of Fairy laundry liquid, and I put them in neat, sorted piles on the bottom of your bed.

teenagers guide to laundry

The DIRTY clothes are the ones on the floor or in your gym bag, that smell of stale teenager and excessive amounts of body spray.

If you put the clean clothes on the floor, it can sometimes be hard to know which clothes are which. But here’s a fun life hack:  if you smell the clothes, you will absolutely, 100% be able to tell which are clean, and which are dirty.

Wardrobes and Drawers Are Great Places for Clothes

I know that keeping clothes on the floor is super convenient and easy. But I’ve spent quite a lot of money on furniture and it’d be good – just for a laugh – if it got used sometimes.

You can put the CLEAN clothes into the drawer or wardrobe. This helps you to a) tell the difference between those clothes and the dirty clothes and b) find the right item of clothing when you need it, like 5 minutes before we’re due to leave for a hockey match.

If possible, try not to shove the dirty clothes in these places because someone has totally lost their sh*t and yelled at you to clear up your room.

Places that are Not Great for Clothes

teenagers guide to laundry

Wardrobes and drawers are great places to keep clothes. Some places that are NOT great places to keep clothes include:

  • Inside a washing machine that isn’t turned on (this makes clothes smell BAD)
  • Inside the tumble drier, in the garage (this makes clothes hard to find in a hurry)
  • In a pile on the floor in front of the drier (this makes clothes crumpled)
  • Squashed into your gym bag (this makes clothes crumpled AND they smell bad)


So there you have it. Part 1 in my new series of Helpful Life Lessons for Teens. Coming soon: What a Washing Machine Does, and Why it’s a Bad Idea to Leave All Those Glasses in your bedroom. Feel free to share these posts with your own young people. Or at least me know it’s not just me going through this? 



4 thoughts on “A Teenager’s Guide to Laundry”

  1. Hilarious! Another place which isn’t good for dirty clothes is in between the sofa cushions. Especially smelly socks. Why? In your future series can you include a lesson on what to do with empty tins/bottles/packets?

  2. Brilliant! Mine has been “doing” her laundry for a few years now and I say that loosely as I find things in the washer and dryer days later….I have come to realize it won’t change until they are on their own. Loved this blog and your pics were the best!

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