College Laundry 101: Understanding the Basics

College can be full of challenges, but locating a pair of clean jeans in time for your 8 a.m. chemistry class shouldn’t be one of them. All it takes is a few tricks and some planning for any busy co-ed to become a laundry pro in no time.

Add laundry to your routine.  Put laundry on your weekly to-do list and the chore will seem like less of an insurmountable task. Aim to hit the laundry room once a week, and try to go during off-peak hours (Wednesday nights are traditionally the slowest time), when you are less likely to have to jockey for a machine. Also check to see if your school is one of the many colleges that can now send online alerts to your smartphone or computer when washers and dryers are available.

Sort baby, sort. To make sure laundry comes out clean and bright, always separate darks and whites. Spot-treat stains, especially if you’re not able to do laundry for a few days. And remember to stock up on a great smelling liquid laundry detergent.

Create a “wash it” schedule. Socks, underwear, sportswear, T-shirts, and lightweight cotton garments should be washed after each use. Heavy-duty items like jeans, hoodies, sweatshirts, and corduroys can withstand several wears without washing, but don’t go longer than three to four weeks. Worried about fading your favorite dark jeans? If you turn them inside out, wash in cold water, and take them out of the dryer while they’re slightly damp, your denim should come out looking like new.

Get towels and sheets under control. Don’t be fooled by sheets and pillowcases that “look clean”: Linens accumulate dirt, sweat, dust, and more as you snooze, so toss ’em in the washer every two weeks with a liquid laundry detergent (for best results, use the hottest water recommended for the fabric based on the garment care label). To prevent any musty odors, make sure towels dry completely before folding. And always air-dry damp ones on a hook after showering.

And don’t forget. Items like comforters, blankets, and bedspreads—all magnets for dust, dirt, and grime—should be washed at least once a semester. Machine-washable jackets and down puffers need laundering, too (every 12 weeks is fine if the garments aren’t soiled). Wash them in cold water and dry on low heat. To keep that clean-laundry smell around for longer, use an in-wash scent booster.

Laundry Tips for College Students

Pass these tips along to your college-bound teens.  They’ll boost your child’s confidence and help him or her manage the care and upkeep of their clothes like a pro. And believe us: Independence never looked so good!

Sort your colors. Separate darks from lights and delicate fabrics from more durable garments. When in doubt use cold water, especially for dark clothes to avoid shrinking, fading, and bleeding of dyes. Using cold water saves energy and resources too. For heavily soiled whites or light colors, however, warm or hot water may be the best bet.

Pretreat stains. The sooner you address splotches and spills, the more successful you’ll be getting them out. Keep a stain remover with your laundry supplies to dab dirt, grease and other spills away before they set. Just make sure stains are gone (rewashing may be necessary) before putting clothing in the dryer, as the heat will set the stain and make it harder to remove.

Get ready to rumble. Close zippers, hooks and snaps, and fasten any Velcro closures. Unbutton all buttons (button holes can tear in the washer). Empty pockets and turn them inside out. Make sure socks aren’t bunched up, and unroll cuffs on pants and shorts. Tie any sashes or bows to prevent tangling. Put delicate items, such as lingerie and fine knitwear, in a zippered mesh bag.

Pop in a Pod. Premeasured, all-in-one detergents save time and are super easy to use (no spillage, no schlepping). All you have to do is toss one in with the load, and voilà! You can even buy one with liquid laundry detergent, stain remover, and brightener in one convenient package.

Establish a laundry routine. Washing clothes doesn’t have to be a monumental task. If you add laundry to your weekly to-do list, it’ll be much easier to keep the chore manageable. Try do your wash during off-peak hours (generally early in the morning and late at night) so you can get in and out quicker. Plus you might get some studying done while you wait—and then have more time to play later.