By Irene StaryginaWhen it’s time to wash your favorite clothing items, you:a) Carefully review the instructions on the label, go out and buy the proper detergent, then toss them in the washing machine alone, or with very few pieces.b) Drive to the cleaners – you’d rather pay a little more and still have it fit.c) Separate lights and darks and keep your fingers crossed.If your answered “c”, laundry instructions might as well be written in Latin. Don’t you wish there was an easier explanation than those squiggles on the tag (which you probably ripped off anyway) that you have to match up to the 6 different setting on the washing machine? Here is the condensed version of all the expert advice out thereHow to separate – One machine for whites, pastels, beige, light grays and nice underwear set to COLD/COLD for 30 min. Another machine for your nice darks, reds and jeans set to COLD/COLD for 40 min (If an item is a mix of light and dark, put it here). A third machine for socks, underwear and gym stuff set to HOT/HOT for 45 min. Note: if you have light-colored sweatshirts/ pants that are pretty dirty and you wear them out, you’re better off shelling out an extra $1.50 and putting them in a separate machine set to HOT/WARM for 40 min. Same goes for new jeans that you just bought and already managed to get them really dirty. If it says “Dry Clean Only”, take it home.Detergent – get liquid detergent, it’s stronger than powder. Add before you load the machine. If the machine is full, add a whole cup. If it’s ¼ to ½ full, add half a cup. In general the machine should never be more than ¾ full, if you want all the dirt to come out.Avoid shrinkage – Add a sheet of fabric softener (never use liquid softener in the washer, it’s too massy and complicated.) If your load is large, add 2. Empty the lint trap. The rule of thumb is that it’s always better to leave your clothes a little wet than over-dry. You should get 2 dryers. One for light-weight knits, delicates (nylon, cotton, underwear, silk, polyester/cotton blend)– to be dried on the low setting for 15 minutes. After 10 min, open the dryer and see if the clothes are almost dry. If they’re only slightly damp, take them out early, or just take out the ones that you think will shrink. The second dryer is for heavy items like jeans, sweaters and sweatshirts. You can throw your socks in there too. Set the dryer to 40 minutes. After 25 minutes, open it and check the sweaters – if they’re almost dry, take them out or leave for another 3 minutes. Fold clothes right away to avoid wrinkles, and bring 3-4 hangers with you for cotton shirts.Good luck and bring a magazine!