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10 Laundry Hacks for College Students


College laundry discussions, from talk of laundry room etiquette to tips on having reasonably clean clothes to wear, have a common back story: The family laundry load shrinks when college claims a family member; said family member carries that missing share of the laundry load to campus, where hygiene-related health concerns and social mores force the scholar to pony up cash for private laundry service or develop a sudden interest in reading things like “10 Laundry Hacks for College Students.”

A college student pulls a basket of laundry out of his car's trunk

On Philosophy, Physics, Economics, and Having Clean Clothes

The philosophy of laundry explores the realities and ramifications of rarely or incorrectly washing your clothes, from those random looks of repugnance to the effects of social shaming. The physics of laundry are a bit more complex: There’s displacement, and there’s the reality of two objects and a single space. Your quest for knowledge has physically displaced you; your dirty clothes can’t be on campus and at home simultaneously. As to economics, how many college students can afford full private laundry service?

That leaves “having clean clothes.” You don’t have to understand diffusiophoresis to know that bluejeans should not stand upright when you aren’t in them. You can learn the dark secrets of laundry by undergoing an apprenticeship in the family laundry room before freshman year, and you can get the lowdown on colleges’ communal laundry rooms from those who’ve been there and have done or are still doing that.

Don’t want all your clothes to be roughly the same color? Bleach blotched? Too small to button or zip? Too dirty to go public? Don’t plan to join the vanguard of the we-don’t-wash-our-clothes movement?

If the search for knowledge has trapped you in the spin cycle, a bit more knowledge can make the experience less nauseating. Study the 10 best laundry hacks we gleaned from 10 websites:

10. Get Your Laundry Supplies

The Spruce contends that your laundry arsenal should include easy-to-use detergent pods, stain removers, and dryer sheets. The site also sees wisdom in having two laundry hampers.

9. Get Your Tools

College Raptor touts the benefits of items such as a collapsible hamper, mesh laundry bags, and a wooden drying rack.

8. Pick a Laundry Time and Day, and Stick to Them

Making the laundry part of a routine helps ensure it gets done. There are scheduling considerations, too, Consumer Reports says.

And consider your safety, particularly if the laundry room location poses challenges such as seclusion and the time of day makes it more likely you’ll be at risk.

7. Pretreat Stains – Process Matters

Once you’ve washed the stained garment and dried it, you’ve helped set the stain. Tide provides a laundry prep guide that includes advice on getting rid of stains. Tide also has compiled a seven-step how-to guide for the main event.

6. Did You Check Your Pockets?

The Laundry Moms website notes that the pockets you should always check are “the dirty ones in the basket.” At stake are important notes and valuables such as cellphones and wallets. A dollar bill will survive the wash, and that pen you wash might still work, unless all the ink is embedded in your favorite shirts and underwear.

5. Read the Clothing Labels

Dry-clean? Use hot, warm, or cold water? Delicate or heavy-duty setting? Use the dryer? A detergent and cleaning products developer says to assume nothing; read the clothing labels.

4. This Isn’t Your Family’s Laundry Room

These tips from The Spruce begin with an introduction to the college laundry room and close with “dryer knowledge” and the “final fold.”

3. Know the Mistakes to Avoid

BestLife jumps right to conclusions, citing “15 Ways You’re Washing Your Clothes Wrong.” It’s safe for you to conclude that the best mistakes are the ones you avoid.

2. Don’t Leave Supplies in the Laundry Room

In its “Ultimate Guide to Laundry in College,” Eyeliner Wings & Pretty Things warns that trust can take a beating in the washer. It offers a pro tip for those wise enough to haul their supplies with them when they come and go: Use a shower caddy.

1. Mind Your Laundry Room Manners

Don’t forget that civility is critical when it comes to the care of dirty skivvies and socks in a communal setting. These nine must-follow rules of college laundry room etiquette from Odyssey focus on the finer points of sharing space and equipment.

Three college women look at a cell phone together and laugh while waiting for their laundry to finish

USF Can Help You with Laundry and Much More

It’s smart to use all available tools to prep yourself for the college laundry cycle, including tutorials provided by schools such as USF, which also provides apps such as LaundryView.

Want to know more about services, amenities, and academic opportunities available at USF? Contact the Office of Admissions online, or reach us by phone at 813-974-3350.