Woman washing clothes in a Maytag washing machine.

In the first instalment of this series, I looked at life skills worth teaching your teenagers in the kitchen. Here, I’ll take things to the laundry room with life skills for laundry. It’s almost like a rite of passage for a child to start doing their own laundry. But they can help in the laundry room in other ways as well.

At almost 11, my son puts his clothes in the washing machine, adds detergent, and runs a cycle. He then transfers them to the dryer, brings them upstairs for me to fold, and puts them away. An older teenager should be able to handle these tasks with ease. It’s a life skill they’ll thank you for teaching them, even if they aren’t so thrilled about doing it now.

What tasks can they do? Here are some ideas.

Washing their own clothing

washing machine buying guide

By tasking teenagers with washing their own clothing, they’ll be (hopefully) less inclined to throw everything on the floor. Teens are stereotypically known, after all, for only washing when they run out! Get them into the habit of doing a load every two weeks. Not everything can go in the same load, of course. They might have athletic gear for sports and delicate items like a school uniform. Teach them how to separate items by whites and colours as well as delicates and regular wash or athletic wear.

Maytag washing machine settingsThe great thing about the latest washing machines is that they feature a variety of cycles. These are clearly labeled for which type of load they should be used, some even beyond the usual “whites” and “towels” to include things like “athletic wear” or even “denim.”

Many also include intelligent cycles. Even if the teen mistakenly throws a school cardigan in with their hockey gear, the machine will sense what’s inside and use the proper cycle, amount of detergent, water, and spin cycle. Over time, your teen will get the hang of it.

Drying their own clothes

Woman using an LG custom care dryer

Teach them how to fluff out and hang items that should be air dried, and how to fluff out and place other items in dryer. Once again, today’s dryers have intelligent sensors and some even use ventless designs just in case the teenager forgets to clean out the lint trap. (If it isn’t a ventless dryer, make sure they clean this out after every cycle and double check that it’s done properly). Steam and refresh cycles along with wrinkle-free cycles will also help if they forget to take a load out right away.

Folding clothes and linens

Man putting on fitted sheet.

Some teenagers might need guidance on how to properly fold shirts, pants, and other items. But once they learn, it will become second nature. They can sit on their bed while video chatting with friends or on the couch while watching TV and fold away. Don’t forget to teach them about drawer organization. This will, in turn, become easier once everything is nicely folded to fit.

Knowing how to fold a fitted sheet is a skill they’ll appreciate having once they are living on their own or in a dorm. And this takes a bit of knowhow to do it just right. If they seem receptive to it, share one of the many clever YouTube videos available. There are tons that walk through the seemingly complicated process, step by step.

Montreal Canadiens bed sheet set.Making their own bed

Teens can avoid having to fold fitted and cover sheets by washing and making their own bed every week. This involved putting on that fitted sheet they just washed. But it also means all the other bedding as well. This can include a top sheet, pillow cases, and comforter or duvet.

Getting them into the habit of making their bed every morning is among the life skills for laundry that make sense for teens. Combine that with washing sheets and it will engrain the routine into their lives. Hopefully, when you visit them in their college or university dorm, or when they take trips with friends, they’ll always be sleeping in a freshly made bed.

Life skills for teens go a long way

Teaching these life skills with laundry to teenagers as soon as they are old enough to tackle these tasks will help make it part of a daily routine. These are valuable tools teens will take with them once they have no choice but to care of their own laundry. And maybe it means they won’t show up during the off days in college with garbage bags full of dirty laundry for their parents to take care of for them!

Check out plenty of washers and dryers at Best Buy Online that teenagers will find simple and maybe even fun to use.

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.