Spin City: A Guide To Doing Laundry In College

Upon entering college, I came to the realization that many of my fellow pupils, mostly being of the male persuasion, simply did not know how to do their laundry. Not only did they lack the knowledge to do laundry, but they also lacked proper laundry room-sharing etiquette. This is kind of annoying to those of us who have been doing our laundry since middle school, and simply just want to get our laundry done quickly and efficiently. I know this seems like an insignificant subject, but I can recall many a time my freshman year of college being asked, “do I wash this in hot or cold water?” Of course, there were always those who would leave their wet clothes in the washing machine for hours, and if you did happen to move their soppy laundry to the dryer after becoming impatient, they would conveniently walk in and stare at your filthy hands touching their laundry. So, with that being said, these are simply my suggestions for those of you who have yet to be taught how to do laundry, or for those who suffer from a case of bad laundry room etiquette.




First things first, I do my best to separate my clothes into darks and lights (and towels being another category entirely), but as a college student, I will admit to suffering from a mixture of being busy and lazy. However, I really do stress the importance of separating lights from darks because it will help make your clothes last a lot longer and retain the quality you bought them in. So, once you have set aside your lights and darks because you are a laundry-savvy college going citizen, it is typically a rule of thumb to wash darker colors in cold water, and lighter colors in warm water. I personally never wash my clothes with hot water. Why? Because although hot water cuts out more dirt and grime than warm or cold water, it also causes fabric to wrinkle, shrink, and fade. If you are going to use hot water, use it on white, non-delicate fabrics only. If you are too lazy to remember the rule of thumb when it comes to warm and cold water, I would suggest simply washing all of your clothes in cold water if you must, but that doesn’t mean you should mix your darks and lights. I know that to many of you these suggestions seem silly, however, these are just the very basics that every person should become accustomed to so that they aren’t taking dirty laundry home to mom on the last weekend of every month (my brother being guilty of this).

As far as laundry room etiquette, the only rule that I can stress is to please use a timer if you are going to leave the proximity. This is for your own good, so that your already snug jeans don’t get thrown into the dryer and shrunk, and for the sake of others who are possibly on a time crunch.  So, in conclusion, and to make this as simple as possible, I’m going to list rules that every person should follow to keep their attire in tip-top shape.

  1. Sort, sort, sort!
  2. For whites: wash in warm or hot water, and if you would like to add bleach, be sure to add it into the washing machine after it has started running.
  3. For darks: wash in cold water
  4. For towels: the same rule applies for separating lights and darks.
  5. Jeans: some people prefer to wash jeans separately, and if you are to do so wash in cold water.
  6. Don’t put fabric softener in before the rinse cycle. It will get washed away, your clothes won’t retain the fabulous smell, and it would be a waste of money.
  7. If you have a stain, use your preferred stain removal treatment, and let it sit on the stain for a little while before washing.

And as far as the dryer goes, they are typically dummy-proof. My personal rule of thumb: if there is any article of clothing that I don’t want shrinking even slightly, it doesn’t get dried. I allow those clothes to hang dry, and then I fluff them in the dryer after they have completely dried. Always dry delicates on low, towels on high, and refer to the tags on the rest of your clothes if you are unsure. If you are new to doing laundry on your own, you can now take your big-person-pants out of the dryer and put them on to show the world that you, you are a competent launderer!

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