Adulting 101: How to Do Laundry in College

Doing laundry may intimidate some, but it isn't difficult — it just requires a little time and prep. Learn how to do laundry in college in this guide.
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  • Before you start doing laundry, gather all the supplies you'll need, like a hamper and detergent.
  • Make sure you follow basic laundry room etiquette when using a shared laundry room.
  • With five simple steps, you can learn how to do laundry in college successfully.

Your first week of classes is over, and now it's time to tackle that mountain of laundry that's piled up in your room. Where do you begin?

Many first-year students are living on their own for the first time in their lives. And this can mean learning a lot of basic day-to-day skills, including how to do laundry in college. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

Fortunately, doing your laundry doesn't have to be difficult. Follow our tips below to learn how to do laundry in college — and never give up on a stubborn stain again.

College Laundry: How Does It Work?

When I was in college, it was all about collecting quarters to use in the washing machine and dryer. Nowadays, many campus laundry facilities allow you to pay for laundry using apps, credit cards, and money loaded onto your student ID card.

Here are a few steps to take before you head to the laundry room:

  • Find out where the nearest laundry facilities are. Many dorms and apartment buildings have laundry rooms on certain floors or even on all floors. It's also possible to find a friend who lives off campus with a washer and dryer of their own.
  • Figure out how much laundry will cost and how to pay for it. For example, if you're supposed to pay with your student ID card, make sure you know how to reload money onto your card.
  • Buy a high-quality laundry basket or bag to easily haul clothes to and from the laundry room.
  • Gather all your laundry supplies. If you keep these in your laundry basket each week, you'll always have everything in one place and ready to go.

What Is Laundry Etiquette?

When using college laundry facilities, here are some basic etiquette rules all students should follow:

  • Bring your own laundry supplies. Never use anyone else's unless they say you can.
  • Respect other people's time — don't just leave the clothes in the washer or dryer for extended periods. Use your phone to set a timer to get your laundry out of the washer and into the dryer promptly and to get your clothes out of the dryer when done.
  • Never take someone's clothes out of a washer or dryer.
  • Sometimes laundry machines are labeled with numbers or letters. Jot down or take a picture of which machine your clothes are in.
  • Empty the lint trap in the dryer after your dryer load is finished.
  • Don't leave your laundry supplies in the laundry room — take them with you as you come and go.

How Often Should You Do Laundry in College?

Don't rely on the sniff test — most college students should wash their clothes around once a week. You might need different clothes if you're applying for an internship or going to an interview, so this could alter your laundry schedule.

Make sure to also wash your sheets and pillow cases about every two weeks.

You'll need an hour and a half to two hours to complete one load of laundry. By setting aside time to do your laundry, you can save yourself the stress of running out of clean clothes. Study or review for an upcoming test while your clothes are being washed and dried.

Most students wait until the weekend or evening to do their laundry. As a result, you may want to do your laundry at a less busy time.

What Are College Laundry Essentials?

Before you make the trip to the laundry facility, it's important to get all your supplies ready. Here are the main items you don't want to forget:

  • Laundry Detergent: This can come in the form of pods, liquid, and powder. You might want to use a detergent that's free of dyes and perfumes if you have sensitive skin. Find a detergent that works for you and your needs.
  • Fabric Softener: Some people use fabric softener to give their clothes a softer feel and make them smell even fresher. It can also reduce wrinkling.
  • Laundry Bag or Basket: Make sure to buy a quality hamper you can tote up and down the stairs or elevator. It needs to be easy to carry and able to hold all your laundry and supplies.
  • Dryer Sheets: These help with static and make your clothes feel soft. Most use around 1-2 sheets per load.
  • Mesh Laundry Bag: Use this for more delicate clothing that can easily rip or break, such as underwear and bras.

How to Do Laundry in College: 5-Step Guide

It's that time of the week to do laundry. Where do we even start? Follow the five steps below to learn how to do laundry in college with ease.

Step 1: Divide Up Your Dirty Clothes

Start by separating your clothes into piles of similar colors. For example, separate your lights, darks, towels and washcloths, and professional clothes that need a more delicate cycle.

You can include a variety of colors in the light pile, such as things with shades of white, cream, tan, and khaki. For the dark pile, focus on gathering clothes that are gray, black, and navy.

If you have a lot of the same color clothing (for example, maybe your school color is red), you might do a load of laundry for clothes of that color specifically.

Step 2: Prepare Clothes to Be Washed

Next, prepare your clothes to be washed. Unball your socks, unroll the legs of your pants or shirt sleeves, and unbutton your shirts. For clothes that could fade easily, leave them inside out.

You should also clean out your pockets. You don't want a wad of gum in your pocket and have that mess get all over your clothes!

Depending on how much clothing you have, you may have a small, medium, or large load of laundry to do. Make sure to adjust the washer and dryer settings each time so that they match the corresponding size of the load.

Step 3: Put Your Clothes in the Washer

Choose which load of clothes you'll be washing and find an empty machine of the right size. Some washers may require you to pour the detergent in the barrel before you put your clothes in. Others may have a separate drawer or area in which to pour the detergent. Read the instructions on the machine and look for any areas labeled "detergent."

Before you add the detergent, read the instructions on the detergent box or jug, too. If you're using liquid or powder detergent, you should be able to see the lines on the cap to know how much detergent to add. This amount will vary depending on the size of your load.

As you add your clothes, be careful not to overload the washing machine. It's important to give your clothing enough room to move around so it can soak up the detergent and water evenly.

Next, set the washer cycle and water temperature. Generally, warm water is best, though cold water is ideal for delicate fabrics and dark colors. Reading the care instructions on your clothes can help you figure out what type of setting to use.

Finally, pay for the load (usually either by credit card, app, quarters, or student ID card) and press start. Don't forget to set a timer on your phone for the amount of time your clothes will be in the machine.

Step 4: Move Your Washed Clothes to the Dryer

Once your clothes are clean, it's time to dry them. Make sure the lint trap is clean before putting your load in the dryer, along with 1-2 dryer sheets if you're using them.

Use the appropriate timed setting on the dryer (usually around an hour). Most clothes can be dried at a medium temperature, though it's best to use low temperatures for more delicate items.

Some items should not be dried, so make sure to look out for those items as you transfer your clothes to the dryer and leave them out to air dry. Wool clothing and bras, for example, should typically stay out of the dryer.

As you did with the washing machine, set a timer on your phone. Thicker clothing or blankets may require a longer drying cycle or a second round in the dryer.

When your clothes have finished drying, put them in your laundry basket to be folded at your place. Then, throw away the used dryer sheets and clean the lint trap for the next person.

Step 5: Fold and Hang Up Your Clothes

The last step is to collect your clothes from your hamper and begin organizing them. It's best to take the time to fold and hang your clothing instead of letting it sit and wrinkle. Make sure you hang up any clothing that needs to be air dried as well.

For any clothes that still have some wrinkles, you may want to use a steamer or iron. This is particularly helpful for professional clothing you may wear to events like job fairs and interviews.

As you can see, doing your laundry doesn't have to be difficult — all it takes is a little time and preparation.

Feature Image: Hill Street Studios / DigitalVision / Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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