Laundry 101: College Edition

Going to college and moving into a dorm room comes with many new responsibilities outside of the classroom. Those who were used to having their parents help them with laundry every week, will have to finally learn how to do their own laundry for the first time. Fortunately, we have all the laundry basics you need to know here!

What You’ll Need

Before taking off to college, it will be helpful to do a practice run or two at home. Gather the following essential supplies ahead of time so that when you need them, there’s no need to stress and scramble.

  • Basket – You can find an affordable one at your local department or drugstore. These come in different styles and varieties. If you know you will have to lug your laundry far, then it would be wise to get one that is not only roomy, but also equipped with sturdy handles and wheels for easier transport.
  • Detergent – Of course, you can’t wash your clothing without detergent! We recommend getting one with color-safe bleach for both whites and colors to keep your clothes looking fresh and vibrant.
  • Stain Remover – Rather than waiting until laundry day, it’s best to treat stains as they come up. Stain remover sticks are especially handy for these “oopsies!” moments.
  • Dryer Sheets – While these are not mandatory (some prefer not to use them), dryer sheets will help keep your clothes static-free and smelling fresh out of the dryer. You put them in with your wet clothes into the dryer.
  • Drying Rack – Not everything is meant to be thrown into the dryer. Delicates and “line dry only” items will dry best on a rack, and last a lot longer!
  • Mesh Bags – Ladies – help retain your bra’s shape and condition by zipping it up in a mesh bag before throwing it into the washer with everything else. Then, when it’s time to transfer your clothing into the dryer, you’ll know exactly what needs to be pulled out and set aside for the dryer rack.
  • Coins – Before doing anything, visit the laundry facility you’ll be using to verify the form of payment they accept. Most laundry facilities on campus or in off-campus apartment buildings have coin-operated machines that require you to pay with quarters. Having them handy and keeping a fresh roll of coins at all times will prevent your pile of dirty clothes from stacking up. If you don’t have coins, visit your local bank with cash to exchange for rolls of coins, or withdraw money from your account in the form of coins.
  • Iron & Ironing Board – The last thing you want is to wear wrinkled clothes. This is where an iron and an ironing board both come in handy! These days, you can purchase both for relatively cheap either online or at your local department store.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Doing Laundry

Doing laundry for the first few times doesn’t have to be daunting. The good news is, it only gets better! After you do it for a few times, you’ll get the hang of it and it will become easy breezy! If you have laundry on your to-do list, follow these essential steps to quickly cross the laundry room visit off the list.


  • Separate whites and colors (light colors that you know won’t transfer can go with the whites if desired).
  • If you aren’t sure how to wash something, refer to the care label to ensure that it’s safe to go into the washer/dryer. Some must be dry cleaned only, and others can be washed but not put in the dryer.
  • Got stains? Treat them in advance before throwing the garment(s) into the wash for best results. We recommend getting a stain remover, which will have instructions on the packaging for you to follow to successfully remove or lighten the stain, prepping it well for the laundry machine.


  • Use hot water for whites and light colors to keep the colors bright.
  • Use cold water for darks and colors to keep them from fading.
  • Follow the instructions on the detergent bottle to ensure that you only use the specified amount of detergent for your load size.


  • Check the lint trap to make sure that it’s been emptied before starting.
  • Ensure that nothing has been left inside the dryer you’ve picked before throwing your clean wet clothes in there. You never know if something that’s been left behind may have some unwanted residue or bleach that would permanently ruin your clothes.
  • Toss in a couple dryer sheets before starting the drying cycle if you desire.
  • Avoid wrinkles by folding clothing immediately once dry.
  • Be sure to empty the lint trap after each load, so the next user can do their laundry efficiently!

Miscellaneous Laundry Tips

Once you become familiar with the laundry basics, you can always tweak your method over time to be more environmentally-friendly. Consider the following tips as you make your way to becoming a laundry pro:

  • If you need to rinse before washing, use cold water only.
  • Save up enough clothes to wash full loads, rather than multiple small loads. Not only will this be better for the environment, it will also save you time and money.
  • Don’t overfill the dryer, especially if you are working with thick blankets and towels. This will just prolong the process and waste energy and money.
  • Ensure that the lint filter is clean before starting each dryer cycle. This helps to maintain air circulation and an efficient drying process.
  • Dry similar fabrics together to ensure even drying and to reduce the drying time.
  • Go with the dryer that still feels warm to the touch if possible. This will shorten the drying time.
  • Don’t forget to set a timer for your cycles so you don’t accidentally leave your clothing in a washer or dryer for too long. When sharing the laundry facility with others, it’s important to be courteous so others can get their laundry done on time, too.
  • Keep in mind that dark bedding and linens won’t show stains and soil as quickly as white/light ones.
  • Not sure if you should fold or hang your clothes? There’s no right or wrong way to do this. How you decide will be dependent on the amount of space you have. But generally, anything that will stretch or snag easily would do best folded rather than hung on a hanger. Thick jackets and dressy clothing like suits and dresses hang nicely. Smaller garments like cotton tops, denim, and undergarments are best folded and stored neatly in a dresser.
  • Consider labeling your clothes somewhere with your name and phone number if you’re afraid of losing your clothes. This way, someone can easily reach you if they get a hold of them, or if you’ve accidentally left your clothes in the laundry machines for too long.
  • Don’t forget to keep a couple of heavy-duty trash bags on hand for rainy days if you need to bring your hamper outside. The last thing you want is fresh clean clothing getting soiled by the rain before you even get a chance to wear them!