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Laundry Basics for the Dorm

Updated on July 26, 2012
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 8 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.


So You're Doing Your Own Laundry...

The time has finally come! You are moving away to go to college for the first time. It is really exciting and there are so many new experiences. You will get to make new friends, go to classes you could never take in high school, go to some awesome parties like you've seen on TV and Katy Perry videos, and so much more! This may all sound really fun, but there are some important rites of passage you may not consider until you get there. One of these activities is doing your own laundry in a laundry room.

Don't get me wrong - plenty of you have already done some laundry. Some of you may even live in an apartment building with your parents and you are already familiar with the sights and sounds of the shared laundry room. For those of you that are not acquainted with the magic that is the laundry room, this is for you.

So grab your Tide and your dirty laundry, and let's get ready to learn all about laundry basics for the dorm.

Don't Fear the Laundry Room

The first thing you need to know about the dorm laundry room is it is a very basic room with very basic washers and dryers. Don't be afraid to use the washers and dryers. They will have extremely basic settings and anyone can figure them out. Trust me - you were smart enough to get into college; you will be smart enough to work the laundry room appliances.

Most colleges now have a cool electronic system so you can add money to your laundry card or OneCard (it works with vending machines too!) and you don't have to worry about quarters. If your college is old school with change, don't panic! Just start saving your quarters and bum change off of people. Some laundry rooms are so fabulous that they accept quarters or cards. Those are the very best laundry rooms. Even if you don't have cash to put on the card, you can usually collect enough change to do some laundry.

Based on personal experience, I will tell you the laundry room is busy most of the time except Saturday and Sunday mornings. If you are not a hardcore partier, or you are but you still wake up with the birds, 8 o'clock in the morning is perfect for doing the laundry. Most students are still asleep and you can get the best washers and dryers. One of my friends was a big believer in using the laundry room at crazy hours like 2 am. That certainly works most of the time since most people are either pulling an all-nighter writing an essay or they are attempting to sleep.

One basic rule of any laundry room - come get your stuff when it is done! There are many people that need to use the laundry room. If you do not come and get your clothes immediately, you are at risk of having someone dump your stuff out on the washer and put their stuff in. Don't get upset about it. It is one of the rules of the laundry room. Other people need to do their laundry, too. Also, you might want to make sure you get your laundry as soon as the cycle is over anyway. Chances are, someone in your dorm is a thief or a pervert or both, and that person will be more than happy to steal your clothing (especially expensive undergarments), so look out!

Wash Your Cares (or Stains) Away

When you go to first do your laundry, try to separate the light colors from the dark colors. I say "try" to do this because I totally cheat sometimes. If I need some clothes fast and don't have enough to do two loads, I throw them all in at the same time. Just remember this - and this is very important - go with cold water when making this bold move. I can't be held responsible if your white shirt comes out orange. For that matter, if you are mixing the colors, do not throw in white or black. White should only go in with light colors; black should go in with dark colors. When in doubt, throw in red colored clothing with the dark colors.

You may ask, "How much detergent do I use?" This is pretty simple. Just read the instructions on the bottle. If you are jamming that washer full of stuff, use whatever it specifies for a full load. You may also wonder, "What detergent is best?" Obviously, I am not here to sell you on laundry detergent. I usually buy whatever is on sale. Tide totally rocks, but it can be really expensive. Gain and All are really good, too. Even though I am a big believer in store brands, I tend to stay away from them with detergent. You usually end up using twice as much to get the same results you would get with a better brand. In the end, you don't save money.

Also, as much as I joke about jamming the machine full, you might want to play it safe until you get used to the laundry room and the quality of the machines. Make sure to separate colors whenever possible and do a couple of loads. Plus, waiting a long time to do the laundry only hurts yourself. When you are walking around in smelly clothes and you have a closet full of dirty laundry, you are only scaring your roommate and potential new dorm friends away. Wash your laundry before it gets out of hand. If you have to do 5 loads in one night, you've waited too long.

Stuff You are Going to Need

When shopping for college, make sure to buy a couple of laundry baskets or a pop-up hamper or two for the dorms. I have seen some college students roll a pretty sophisticated laundry hamper with dividers to the dorm laundry room. If you are really tidy, I would say go for it. Quite frankly, I think just a basic basket or two is suitable.

You may also want to invest in some drying racks. In case you don't know about drying racks, let me say, they are pretty awesome. If you are too stingy to dry your clothes in the dryers, you can put them out to dry on drying racks. Furthermore, there are some items. like jeans, you may not want to put in the dryer. After all, the dryer can sometimes shrink clothes. If you are concerned about the Freshman 15, you certainly do not need some dryer shrinking your clothes and making you believe you've gained weight.

As I said before, you will want to get some detergent. You might also want to get a stain stick in case you don't make it to the laundry room too often and drip something on a shirt or pants (or whatever else... I am not here to judge). You can also get some dryer sheets or fabric softener. If you want to get really clean, you may want to buy some bleach. Remember to be careful with the bleach though. It tends to leak at the worst possible moment on something you really like. To be honest, if you want to save money, you really only HAVE to buy the detergent.

Personally, I've been using a laundry room for about 10 years (I am in an apartment now) and I mostly just use detergent and only washers, not dryers for most loads. You will save money in the long run. Good luck to you and your new independent lifestyle. Don't be afraid of the dorm laundry room. Not only can you walk out with some clean laundry, you might just walk out with some new friends. After all, we all need to borrow a quarter or a dryer sheet here and there.


Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Oh, yes! I've also washed items in the bathtub or the sink, and the hung them on the shower curtain rod. Sometimes it is the only way to have clean clothes to wear. Thanks for the comment and the vote up!

  • kittythedreamer profile image

    Kitty Fields 

    8 years ago from Summerland

    When I was going to college, there were sometimes when I would literally wash my jeans in the bathtub and then hang them over the shower curtain rod! Very useful hub you did, Jeannieinabottle. Keep it up my friend! Voted up and useful. :)

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for reading and voting up. It's actually been a while since I've been to college, too, but I like to reminisce around this time of year. I also like taking advantage of the awesome back-to-college sales, too.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 

    8 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi Jeannie, well I am not going to college and won't be going near a laundry room, but oh how I love reading your fabulous hubs!

    A well written and useful hub for all those students who are.

    Thanks and voting up:-)

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for your comment and votes. I hope this will help out some college students.

  • MarloByDesign profile image


    8 years ago from United States

    I wish I read this when I went to college. Rated 'UP' and 'useful'. Since I love writing on saving money, I suggest you might add a section on money saving tips :)


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