How to Do Laundry in a College Dorm

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College brings lots of changes and may even cause you to look back fondly on Mom's washer and dryer (and not just because she did your laundry). A college laundry room is a totally different experience. 

The first step is to find out how much it costs to use the washers and dryers. Some colleges offer free use, others use quarters (some have bill changers, others don't), and some allow electronic payment to your campus debit card. Be prepared before you run out of clean clothes.

You'll also have an easier experience and spend less time in the laundry room if you have all the supplies you need before you even arrive on campus.

  • 01 of 08

    Pick Your Laundry Times

    Young man using washing machine in campus laundromat
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    Every campus is different, but usually, the best times to do laundry are on weekday afternoons or during big events like football games. Of course, weekends and nights are when laundry rooms are the busiest. Some campuses offer apps that alert you when washers are available.

    The absolute worst time to do laundry is when you are frantic, have no clean underwear, and there's a line to use every washer and dryer.

  • 02 of 08

    Sort Before You Go

    High angle view of woman putting clothes in washing machine at laundromat
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    Believe it or not, you probably have more workspace in your dorm room than you will in the laundry room. Take time to sort your laundry by colors and fabrics before you head to the laundry room. 

  • 03 of 08

    Know the Load

    Close-up of clothes in laundry basket
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    Because washer sizes vary, learning how to gauge exactly how much laundry equals one load is tough especially if this is the first time you've ever done laundry. To give you a guideline for the next four years, fill the washer with your freshly sorted dirty clothes. Don't stuff the washer until the lid won't close, just gently add the dirty clothes in layers.

    Now, empty the clothes back into your empty laundry hamper or basket. This will help you see the amount of clothing that will equal one load in the washers you have available. The next time you do laundry, you can look at your pile of clothes and know how many loads you'll need to do. 

  • 04 of 08

    Washer and Dryer Surprises

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    Before you set something on top of the washer or dryer make sure the surface is clean. At best, you'll get the sticky detergent residue. At worst, you'll find chlorine bleach that will permanently ruin your clothes. 

    Look inside, too. You never know what the last person put in the washer or dryer. If someone left a pen or tube of lipstick or Chapstick in their pocket, it often gets all over the dryer or washer and onto your clothes. Or, you may find leftover clothing. Just look every time before you load.

    If the appliance is messy, be a good Samaritan and clean it up or at least report the problem to the dorm manager.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Keep Track of Time

    Laundry Apps
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    As you start your first load of laundry, check your watch or cell phone. Stay with your laundry and time how long it takes for the washer to complete the load. Do the same thing when you load laundry in the dryer.

    Those numbers will be your guide for each time you do laundry. You can set an alarm on your phone so you'll remember to go back to check on your clothes. Some college laundry rooms offer an app to alert you when a cycle has ended and there are numerous free apps you can download to help you with laundry questions.

  • 06 of 08

    Label, Label, Label

    Clothes label
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    It is best to stay with your laundry. Use the time to study, watch a movie, or just have some down time. But, if you plan to leave anything (laundry hamper, detergent, dryer sheets) in the laundry room while your clothes are washing and drying, put your name on it.

    It also helps to put a cell phone number in case something goes wrong and someone needs to reach you. It might just save your clean clothes from being tossed on the floor.

  • 07 of 08

    Dryer Knowledge

    Laundromat clothes dryer
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    Before you start the dryer make sure the lint trap is clean. You'll prevent fires and your clothes will dry faster.

    Set the heat to medium. Many commercial dryers run very hot and you'll end up baking your clothes.

    Commercial dryers are usually larger than home dryers so you may be able to put two loads of wet laundry in one dryer. As you load the clothes into the dryer, fluff each piece of clothing by giving it a quick shake. They will dry more quickly and with fewer wrinkles. Be sure you get everything in the dryer before you start it up. Opening and closing the door loses heat and time.

  • 08 of 08

    Final Fold

    How to fold laundry
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    It is worth taking a few extra minutes to fold your clothes. If you fold as you go when clothes come out of the dryer, you'll have fewer wrinkles. Final folding can be done in the laundry room or back in your dorm room. If you have to go outside to get back to your dorm room, keep a couple of heavy trash bags in your hamper to cover your clothes. They'll stay dry if it's raining and not blow away if it's windy. Nothing worse than having your undies scattered everywhere.