For a kid that's never done laundry before, the whole operation may as well look like NASA getting ready to launch a rocket. Writing clear instructions on your machines in dry erase marker will make it easy for them to learn.
Photo by Jessica Lahey.
Kids learning to do their own laundry helps teach them responsibility and takes a load off of you. If you have to constantly reteach them, however, you end up making more work for yourself in the long run (and possibly ruining some clothes in the process). Jessica Lahey, teacher and author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, decided to make things easier for her 11-year old by writing straightforward instructions on her machines. If you're machines are light enough for it to show, just use some dry erase markers to highlight which buttons to use and list the proper steps to do different loads of laundry. Combine this with something that decodes all of those complicated washing instructions on clothing, and you're all set. This would work great for washer and dryer units you have in rental spaces too. The marker should come off just fine, but if it's being stubborn, a little rubbing alcohol or vinegar should do the trick.