How to Do Laundry In College

College is a time of new experiences and learning, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to washing your clothes. Most college students do their laundry in what they call “the sink” – an unfortunate word for such an important part of our day-to-day routine. Of course there are dry cleaners on campus, but these can be pricey so most people try to save money by doing the job themselves.

Laundry is a chore that many college students find themselves doing every week. Luckily, there are many ways to do laundry in college, such as using the washing machine or doing it by hand.

Military men in shorts washing clothes while wearing guns.

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Note from the editor: This article was first published on April 12, 2012. This is the most recent version. 

When many young men leave home for the first time, one of the first things they will be faced with is washing their clothes. It’s hardly rocket science, but there’s a surprising lot to it – entire books have been published on the topic, believe it or not! Today, we’ll go over the fundamentals in an easy-to-understand question-and-answer format. It’s a crucial skill to acquire not just because everyone must do it every week without fail, but also because if you know how to do it correctly, you won’t spoil your clothing or wear them out too soon, which is something a young guy on a budget cannot afford. So let’s get this party started.


[hide] Contents

  • 1. Get Your Clothes Ready Before You Wash Them
    • 1.1 How Often Should I Wash My Clothes?
    • 1.2 What Should I Do If I Don’t Know How to Wash Something?
    • 1.3 What Is The Best Way To Sort My Clothes Into Loads?
    • 1.4 How Do I Deal With Stains?
  • 2. Getting Your Clothes Clean
    • 2.1 At what temperature should I use the water?
    • 2.2 Which Cycle Should I Go With?
    • 2.3 How Should I Choose a Load Size?
    • 2.4 How Should I Choose a Detergent? What’s the difference between powder, liquid, and HE?
  • 3. Washing Instructions
  • 4. Hanging Your Clothes to Dry
  • 5. Etiquette at Laundromats

Prior to Getting Your Clothes Clean

How Often Should I Wash My Clothes?

It is not necessary to wash everything you possess after a single usage. Your garments will last longer if you wash them less often. While a lot depends on how frequently you shower, how stinky/sweaty you are, how long you wear the item, and the weather, you can typically tell whether anything needs cleaning by how it feels and smells, here’s an average of how often to wash what:

  • 1 wear of undershirts, underwear, and socks As a result, have a lot of pairings. Don’t reuse your underpants by turning them inside out! If you run out of socks and don’t have time to wash them, wash a pair in the sink at night and hang them to dry in the morning.
  • T-shirts are only worn once. They soak up a lot of perspiration and grease.
  • Jeans should be replaced after 4-6 wears. Yes, you may spend months without washing your denim (a necessity if it’s selvedge denim), and if they don’t stink, go ahead and do so; they won’t develop any more germs after 300 wears than they did after 15. Any stains may be cleaned on the spot (this goes for other clothing too).
  • Shorts and pants in khaki/cargo khaki/cargo khaki/cargo khaki/cargo khaki/cargo khaki/ Khakis don’t disguise dirt as effectively as jeans do, and they absorb more perspiration and oil from the body.
  • 1-3 wears for button-down shirts and sweaters. The length of time you wore it was highly dependant on how tightly the garment fit your body, the weather, and how long you wore it. Give your armpits a whiff when you take it off. Put the shirt back on the hanger or lay the sweater over a chair to air out if they don’t smell. Try a shot of Febreeze if you’re right on the boundary.
  • 1-2 wears of pajamas Depending on how much you perspire throughout the night (although everybody sweats more while sleeping than they realize — around a liter a night)
  • Once a week, change your towels (given daily use).
  • Every two weeks, change the bed linens. Experts recommend washing bed linens at least once a week, but I know most young guys will not do so. But, at the very least, wash them every couple of weeks (and, if that’s not possible, wash your pillowcase—especially if you have acne-prone skin). Consider laying about in skin cells, dust mites and their excrement, fungal mold and spores, body fluids, and germs if you need inspiration. Insect parts, pollen, and dirt are also present. Dreams of sweet dreams.

What Should I Do If I Don’t Know How to Wash Something?

READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY. If you just remember one item from this article, make it this. Take a look at the label. It will instruct you on how to properly wash, dry, and iron your garments. Don’t be concerned. You don’t need to know what those strange laundry symbols on your father’s polo shirt from the 1980s imply. Clothing producers used to depend on them to instruct customers on how to care for their garments. Today, most clothing producers omit the symbols and instead lay out exactly how to wash their garments. My Criquet Shirts polo shirt, for example, includes the following cleaning instructions: “Cold machine wash Wash in a similar color scheme. Only non-chlorine bleach should be used. Tumble dry on low heat. As required, warm the iron.” I examined the labels on my other shirts, and they were all the same: clear directions with no symbols.


Take an item of clothing to the cleaners if it reads “Dry Clean Only.” Yes, there are techniques to wash dry clean-only materials at home, but it’s not worth the danger for a novice, and it’s certainly not worth the bother for a young guy. (If you’re a low-maintenance man who refuses to have his clothes dry-cleaned, be sure to read the label before you purchase.)

What’s the Best Way to Sort My Clothes Into Loads?

There are a plethora of complicated laundry sorting devices available, but they’re overkill for most young, college-aged males. This was my method throughout my bachelor’s degree.

Sort your soiled clothes by color first. Many professionals advise separating your colors into three piles: whites, lights, and darks. My experience has taught me that you just need two things: whites and colors. Sorting by color guarantees that the bleeding red from your OU Sooners t-shirt doesn’t make your white dress shirts pink (don’t ask).

Sort each pile by fabric weight after sorting by color: lighter materials (such as formal shirts) in one pile, heavier fabrics (such as jeans and sweatshirts) in another. In addition, I make a mound of bed sheets and towels. When it comes to drying our clothes, sorting by fabric type is crucial. Lighter goods, such as t-shirts, dry considerably faster than heavy ones, such as towels. You may save money by reducing the amount of time it takes to dry light materials by drying them alongside other light fabrics. This doesn’t imply you’ll have to do more loads; heavier things, such as pants and sweatshirts, don’t need to be cleaned as often as lighter items, so “save up” until you have one large heavy item load to do.

What Should I Do If There Are Stains?

While the specifics of stain removal are outside the scope of this article, many stains will come out in the wash if you merely pre-treat them with Shout. So keep an eye out for stains as you go through your things.

Pre-treat your collar and armpits with stain remover if you have white dress shirts or light-colored t-shirts in your dirty laundry. You don’t want a ring around your collar or yellow spots in your armpits. Here’s how to get rid of yellow armpit stains if you do develop them.

Washing Your Clothes

man doing laundry washing clothes in tub painting

What is the best water temperature to use?

It’s easy to get lost in this, so keep it simple: Whites should be washed in warm water, while colors should be washed in cold water. Now, I used to be a hot water for whites man, but after doing a lot of study for this post, I discovered that with today’s washers and detergents, using simply warm, or even cold water for all washes is perfectly acceptable. However, you should still wash your linens, towels, and workout clothing (regardless of color) in hot water since it is the most effective at removing dirt. But always use cold water for colors, since it fades garments’ hues less than hot water.


Which Cycle Should I Pick?

“Regular” should be your default cycle. It’s the longest cycle, and the wash and spin cycles are the quickest and most forceful (spin cycles are when the machine spins out the water from the clothes). It works with all sorts of fabrics.

Except for sweaters and a beautiful dress shirt, you won’t use the delicate cycle very frequently unless you have the same underwear preferences as J. Edgar Hoover. Always read the label.

What about the enigmatic perpetual press cycle? This cycle is for wrinkle-resistant synthetic textiles including rayon, polyester, and acetate, as well as natural fibers treated with a chemical (like your “no-iron” dress shirts). A rapid wash cycle and a moderate spin cycle are included in the permanent press cycle. The slow spin cycle helps avoid wrinkling by keeping some of the water in the garments. A rayon vintage bowling shirt is the only item of clothes I can see a young guy having in his closet that requires constant pressing. Aside from that, I believe you may safely utilize the usual cycle for the majority of your washing requirements.

What is the best load size for me?

Sometimes you have a lot of garments to clean, and other times you just have a few things to clean. Each circumstance needs a different quantity of water. Small, medium, big, and extra-large are the most common load options. What is the difference between a small, medium, big, and extra-large load?

The following scale is used to judge load size on a common top-loading machine:

  • Small: before adding water, clothes occupies 1/3 of the wash drum.
  • Before adding water, clothing occupies 1/3 to 1/2 of the wash drum.
  • Large: clothes fills half to three-quarters of the wash drum before water is added.
  • Extra-large: before adding water, clothes fills the wash drum 3/4 to entirely.

I’m not sure what kind of detergent to use. What’s the difference between powder, liquid, and HE?

Consumerism has given us hundreds of various types of laundry detergents to pick from, for better or ill. There are so many, in fact, that deciding which one to employ may be difficult. While all of them will clean your clothing, each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

  • Powder detergents are less expensive per load than liquid detergents and are more effective at removing stains like as dirt and clay than their liquid counterparts. Powder detergents, unlike liquid detergents, do not easily dissolve in cold water unless carefully made.
  • Liquid detergents are more costly, but they are more effective at removing organic stains such as blood, grass, and pizza sauce. In addition, they dissolve easier in cold water.
  • Because they are created particularly for High Efficiency washers, HE detergents are more costly than normal detergents. They are low-sudsing and dispersible, making them ideal for machines with modest water volumes. You won’t find HE washing machines if you live in a dorm or an apartment with communal laundry facilities. While HE detergent may be used in normal washing machines, it would be a waste of money.

Small pods containing both liquid and powder detergent that dissolve in the laundry are increasingly being sold by detergent makers. They’re handy, but they’re also costly. This is probably not a suitable choice for a young guy on a budget. Opt for the powder. Even the budget-conscious young guy may try his hand at producing his own detergent.


Also, here’s another laundry detergent money-saving idea. According to experts, you may use anywhere from 1/2 to 1/8 of the amount recommended by the manufacturer and still have clean clothing. Personally, I aim for roughly half of the required fill line.

You may choose between liquid, powder, or pod detergents, as well as scented or unscented detergents. If you’re allergic to scents, choose the unscented version.

Finally, before adding your garments, fill the washing machine with water and detergent. Add your detergent when the machine is filled with water. You can guarantee that your detergent is uniformly dispersed throughout the water by filling your washing machine with water and detergent before adding your garments. Pouring detergent directly on your clothes may also create stains; this is particularly true with powder detergents.

Is it necessary for me to use bleach?

Bleaching may destroy your clothes if done incorrectly. Bleach, on the other hand, can remove stains, make whites whiter, and disinfect the filthy bedsheets you’ve been laying in ill all week if used correctly. However, if you don’t want to use bleach, you may honestly omit it. I didn’t wear it very much, and my clothing were OK. Kate has never used it before. However, if you do decide to utilize it, there are certain criteria to follow.

Bleaches are divided into two categories: chlorine and non-chlorine bleaches. The most powerful bleach is chlorine bleach, although it is not suitable for all materials. It’s the bleach that can turn your traditional green polo into a trendy tie-dyed shirt if you spill any on it.

Non-chlorine bleach, such as OxiClean, is safe to use on colorful garments created with colorfast dyes and textiles and will brighten them up. Non-chlorine bleach, on the other hand, isn’t as efficient at brightening whites as chlorine bleach.

If you want to use chlorine bleach on your whites or bed linens, fill the bleach dispenser in the washing machine with the recommended quantity before beginning the cycle. If your machine doesn’t have a liquid bleach dispenser, combine 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of water with the bleach and add it after the garments have been washed for five minutes. Using a wooden stick or a spoon, stir it in.

Bleach should never be poured directly on garments, even whites. This was something I had to learn the hard way. While the machine was still full with water, I put bleach on a load of white clothing. My white garments had a multitude of dark spots after drying, which I later learnt were chemical burns caused by the bleach. The moral of the story is to use bleach with care.

Cleaning Suggestions

Load a few articles of clothes at a time. You may now add clothes to the machine once it has been filled with water and your detergent has been applied. Do not put large, wadded-up armfuls of clothes in the washing machine. Add a couple articles of clothes at a time. This will guarantee that the cloth is adequately agitated throughout the process.

Do not squeeze all of your clothes into a single load of laundry. You’ll be tempted to push as much dirty clothing as possible into a single wash load in order to save time and money. Resist the urge to give in. To become clean, your clothing require space to swish about in the drum. Don’t overload the washing machine if you want clean garments.


Set a timer and close the lid. Simply shut the lid to start the machine washing. Set a timer on your smartphone to remind you to check the wash when the machine says it’s done, since it’s easy to forget you have a load of clothes in the machine. Nobody enjoys the foul odor that develops when wet clothing are left in an empty washing machine for too long (although a toss in a hot cycle on the dryer can often zap the smell if that happens to you).

Getting Your Clothes Dry

vintage man leather jacket hanging clean clothes to dry

The dryer isn’t for everything. Always read the label. “Lay flat to dry,” for example, will be written on certain items. If that’s the case, lay it flat on a cloth and smooth out the creases. You can drape it over a drying rack or a chair if it doesn’t go in the dryer but doesn’t need to be placed flat. Even though a garment may theoretically go in the dryer, if you don’t want it to shrink (whether because it was exactly the perfect size when you purchased it or because the freshman fifteen has made your pants feel tight), hang it to dry instead. Of course, if you live in a home or apartment where line-drying is a possibility, that’s a terrific choice as well: less shrinking, less wear and strain on your clothing, no energy or electricity consumption, and that fresh air scent.

Remove the lint screen and clean it. Check the lint screen before putting damp clothing in the dryer. A clean lint screen allows moist air to exit the washer and your garments to dry. You may need to clean the screen in the midst of a heavy load of things that shed fuzzy material, such as towels, jeans, and so on. Oh, and don’t throw away that lint! It’s an excellent fire starter.

Place a few articles of clothes in the dryer at a time. In the washer, clothes tend to become clumped and tangled together. When you throw wet garments into the dryer in a huge ball, some of them will dry quickly while others will stay moist. To prevent this, remove a few things from the washing machine at a time, shake them out if they’re tangled, and then put them in the dryer.

Do not overcrowd the dryer. You won’t want to push all of your clothing into a single drying cycle, just as you wouldn’t want to pack all of your clothes into a single wash cycle. To tumble and dry thoroughly, clothes need room in the dryer. Breaking up your drying into smaller loads can save you time and money in the long run.

Add a fabric softener sheet to the mix. Throw in a fabric softener sheet to prevent static cling and give your garments that smooth, cozy feel. You may use half a sheet for lesser loads.

Choose the appropriate drying temperature. When it comes to drying temperatures, a general rule of thumb is that the higher the temperature, the more likely the item will shrink. If your garment’s care label reads “Tumble Dry,” you may use your dryer’s “normal” temperature setting. The hottest setting is regular, which is best for thick cottons like towels, t-shirts, underwear, jeans, and sheets.


Permanent press garments, such as synthetics and textiles treated with wrinkle-free chems, should use the medium setting.

Knits and lingerie fall within this category. If you’re a male, you’ll probably just have a few pieces of clothes that need this setting.

Remove the dry clothing as soon as possible. Remove your dry clothing from the dryer and fold and iron them right away to eliminate creases (we’ll cover these skills later this month). The longer you leave them there, the more wrinkles will form.

Protocol for a Laundromat

Many of the young guys reading this will be doing their laundry in public laundries and dorm basements. When you wash your clothes in a shared machine, you need pluck, craftiness, and social grace that you don’t need when you wash them at home. We’ve put up a list of quick and easy guidelines to assist you navigate the sometimes weird world of laundromats:

Go on non-working days and during non-working hours “Washing clothing on Saturday or Sunday is definitely a good idea. I’m not doing anything else.” What’s more, guess what? Everyone else in your dorm/apartment is thinking the same thing. On a Saturday morning in college, I attempted my first wash and discovered the dorm was completely full. Going to the laundry on Tuesdays or Wednesdays is a smart idea. Go in the afternoon if your schedule allows it. Become an early riser and wash your laundry first thing in the morning if you don’t already.

Before you go, make sure you have lots of quarters. Yes, some laundromats and dormitory facilities now employ credit card or student ID readers, but it’s an excellent way to spend your change, and change machines in laundromats that don’t have credit card readers are often faulty.

Before placing your items in the washer or dryer, double-check the settings. Your whitey-tighties may be transformed into baby blue under-roos with the help of a spare blue sock. Clean out the lint screen as well, but using a paper towel. You don’t want to come into contact with strangers’ discarded pubes.

When possible, use numerous machines. One of the advantages of coming to the laundry on a non-working day is that you will almost certainly have access to many machines. So, instead of washing and drying one load at a time, you can perform numerous loads at once, considerably reducing your laundry time. Of course, while utilizing this strategy, you must be respectful. Don’t be the person who takes up three machines when there’s a queue of people waiting for a slot.

Keep an eye on your laundry if you leave it alone. Laundry is stolen. Take this into account before you leave your clothes unattended. I realize you’d rather be anywhere else than a laundromat, but I’d suggest sticking around until your clothes are done. While you’re waiting, get some work done or read a book. Make the most of your free time. If you must leave your clothes washing or drying unattended, set a timer on your phone so you can return when the cycle is through; don’t have someone else take your stuff out and pile it on a table so they may use the machine.


Keep your etiquette in mind. If you need more room on the tables, ask them to move their own laundry; no one wants a random guy touching their intimates. In a similar vein, don’t take up too much room. To fold your clean clothing, you don’t have to spread them out on the table.

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Watch This Video-

College is not a time to learn how to do laundry. The college laundry app makes it easy for students to keep track of the cost and time required to complete their laundry.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is laundry done in college?

How do you do laundry in college step by step?

A: First, youll need to figure out what type of laundry detergent is best for your clothes. Some people prefer liquid detergents while others use powders and sprays. Next, take the clothing to the washing machine! Make sure that the water temperature matches whats recommended on your brand of detergent and then do a pre-rinse so it doesnt get too sudsy when you put in your clothes.

How often do you do laundry in college?

A: I do not know how often my human friend does laundry.

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