How to Do Laundry in College

College dorm life
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Doing laundry in college can be a challenge — but it can also be easier than you might think. Just remember: you don't have to be psychic to do laundry correctly. But you do have to read, so just check the labels if you're not sure.


  1. Read the labels of anything unique. Have a fancy dress? Nice button-down shirt? New bathing suit? Pants or skirt made of a funky material? Anything that seems a little out of the ordinary might need extra care. A quick read of the tag instructions (usually found by the neck or waist or on the bottom inside left-side seam of shirts) can help prevent disasters. Anything needing special care or a certain water temperature should be separated from the rest.
  2. Sort out anything new. If you just bought a new, bright-red t-shirt, made tie-dye shirts with some friends, or have any other clothes that have dark (like black, blue, or brown) or bright (like bright pink or green) colors, these kinds of clothes might bleed (i.e., have their colors seep out and stain the rest of your clothes). Wash them separately on their first wash — but they should be good to join their friends for the next go-around.
  3. Separate clothes by color. Put the darks (blacks, blues, browns, jeans, dark towels, etc.) in one color and the lights in another (whites, creams, tans, pastels, etc.). Some colors, like light gray, can go in either pile, so feel free to move those around to make your loads around the same size.


  1. Put one load of similarly colored clothes (e.g., darks or lights but not both) in the machine. A few rules here: don't squish them in. Don't pack them in. Just kinda throw them in so there's enough room for things to move and swim around once the machine fills with water. If you pack things in, they won't get clean and the detergent gets stuck on everything.
  2. Put in the soap. Read the instructions on the box or bottle. Don't necessarily use one full cap or one full cup; detergent companies like your money so they make it easy to put too much soap in. Put enough in for one load, which may be only half a cup. Read, read, read to find out how much you really need.
  3. Set the water temperature. A good rule of thumb to follow: Darks need cold water, lights need warm water, sheets and towels need hot water. Easy cheesy.
  4. Hit "start"!


  1. Separate anything that can't go in the dryer. This may be something you found by reading the labels. It may also be things like bras with underwires, fancy underwear, bathing suits, or sweaters that would otherwise shrink from the heat.
  2. Put your clothes in the dryer. Take your clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer. If you want, you can add a dryer sheet; doing so will prevent static cling and make your clothes smell fantastic. You'll have to guesstimate how much time your clothes will need. If you have stuff that you don't want wrinkled, pull it out when it's still a tad wet and hang it up. If you don't care, just dry it until everything is super dry and ready to go.


  1. If you have nasty stains (like wine or dirt), try rubbing something on it before washing your clothes. (You can find stain-removal products near the laundry soap in any store.)
  2. If you love how clean clothes smell, consider putting a dryer sheet in each of your drawers, putting one between your towels, or hanging a few randomly in your closet.
  3. Because college laundry rooms have so many machines, consider having a night where you and your friends hang out and do something to pass the time while washing clothes. That way everyone's clothes get clean and you can at least have some fun in the process.