There are as many philosophies about washing clothes as there are people who wash them.

When I first learned to wash clothes, my philosophy was that everything comes in dirty and everything comes out clean. My mother soon showed me the error of my ways.

We had a washer extractor. Mom said to wash the white clothes first, while the water was hot and soapy. From there they are passed through the wringer into clear, warm rinse water.

The second charge was made up of colored clothing, and the third charge, if there was one, was also colored, only darker than the second charge.

The last load to wash was dirty work clothes. However, all the clothes were hung outside on the clothesline to dry.

Eventually I stopped using a washer extractor and learned to use an automatic washer and dryer at the laundromat. There were plenty of choices for load size, temperature, and color, as well as type of clothing.

Over time I had my own automatic washing machine, although I always prefer to dry my clothes outside.

The automatic washer is safer and more efficient for me. Even if I folded the buttons inside the clothes before putting them in the wringer, I lost a button from time to time.

When Mum was in the hospital before she died, I broke all the buttons on her dress while running it through the wringer. I was glad I didn’t have to tell him that bad news.

So, anyway, clothes now have labels that explain how to wash them, as well as instructions for drying and ironing — if necessary.

Well, just recently I read an article in a national magazine that was supposed to be the last word in clothes washing. The plan is to wash everything in cold water to save energy and to wash everything according to color.

It doesn’t matter if it’s underwear or jeans, or something in between. If they’re the same color, they go in the washer together. Floor level doesn’t seem to be a consideration.

Now I’m really confused. Which way is the right way? Maybe I was right in the first place. Everything comes in dirty and everything comes out clean.

I AM sure of one thing, though. If there’s money in the bottom of the washer when the wash is done, it’s mine!

(Dorothy Knight Burchett is the author of “Miles and Miracles” and “Getting It All Together.” Contact her at [email protected])