Laundry 101

Tips for getting your clothes clean...without having to call home

You are so ready for college. You’ve visited campus, met your new roommate, and mastered the microwave. But a few weeks into the semester you realize there’s one important lesson you didn’t learn—how to do your laundry.

Relax. Everything you need to know is in this handy guide to laundry basics.


When packing for college, don’t overlook the following laundry essentials.

  • Hamper Basket/Bag—These come in many varieties, and the more portable the better, depending on how far you have to trek to the laundry facility.
  • Laundry Detergent—Use a detergent with color-safe bleach for both whites and darks.
  • Dryer Sheets—These will keep your clothes static-free and smelling fresh.
  • Iron and Ironing Board—It’s always wise to keep an iron handy for those occasions when T-shirts and pajama bottoms simply won’t do.
  • Drying Rack—For those care tags that read “line dry only.”
  • Stain Remover—Save time and money by treating stains as they happen, instead of allowing them to set in.
  • Money—If you’ll be using a coin-operated machine, keep a small jar stocked with plenty of quarters

Laundry: Step-by-Step

With these step-by-step instructions, you can easily (and quickly) cross laundry room visits off your to-do list.

Step 1: Prepping

  • Treat stains by blotting from the back of the fabric to the front.
  • Divide loads into lights and darks.
  • When in doubt, check the care tag to be sure that an item is washer/dryer safe.

Step 2: Washing

  • Use only the specified amount of detergent for your load size (check the bottle).
  • Use hot water to keep white loads bright.
  • Use cold water to prevent darks from fading.

Step 3: Drying

  • Adjust the dryer’s settings to the appropriate heat level and length of time.
  • Empty the lint trap after each load.
  • To avoid wrinkles, fold clothes immediately after drying.

“Green” Laundry Tips

While your roommates may leave lights on and shirk their recycling duties, you can feel good about practicing these environmentally-friendly laundry habits:

  • Save water by washing only full loads instead of multiple small loads.
  • Use cold water for rinsing whenever possible.
  • Dry similar fabrics together to reduce drying time and ensure even drying.
  • Pick the dryer that still feels warm to the touch—this will shorten drying time.
  • Don’t overfill the dryer—doing so wastes energy, time, and money.
  • Clean the lint filter before each dryer cycle to maintain proper air circulation and speed up the drying process.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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