College dorms can feel like the deep end of the pool, particularly for freshmen. It’s not enough that you’re drowning in your classes — now you need to worry about things like time management and laundry. It may seem daunting at first, but dorm living can teach important life skills.
During college, you may have limited time, money, and space. However, you still want to keep up appearances — and that can be a challenge. Heavy-duty dorm washers can be harsh on your clothes. You need to understand the settings and timing of these giants to be able to use them well.
If you want your wardrobe to last, be careful about what you buy and how you wash it. Here are five tips on how to protect your clothes from the clutches of the dorm laundry room.
1. Invest in Durable Clothing
Grandma’s hand-knitted sweater may be your favorite item for the winter, but it may not survive dorm laundering. The heavy-duty washers have higher speeds and fewer delicate settings. Many college students do not have the time to hand wash nor the money to dry clean garments. Therefore, it makes sense to buy durable clothing that won’t get ruined after a few washes.
If you’re on a budget, consider Carhartt factory seconds as a cost-effective option for quality clothing. These rugged jeans, shirts, and hoodies may have slight imperfections, but they can take all the punishment a dorm washer can dish out. For slightly dressier occasions, add some wrinkle-resistant garments to your college wardrobe. They save you the hassle of ironing, and you’ll still look presentable for internship interviews or nights out.
2. Observe the Laws of Loading
Dumping your entire hamper into the washer is quick, but even one red sock can ruin all your whites. Sorting by color and material not only prevents color bleeding, but also ensures your clothes last longer. You can wash different loads on the settings most suited to their care. Be careful with lacy tops or bras, as they might snag on zippers or hooks during the wash. Using a bag for delicates can help keep them safe in the washer.
An especially dirty load may tempt you to pour in some extra detergent. However, keep in mind that too much detergent causes residue buildup, which can ruin clothes. Another mistake is overloading the machine to get done with laundry in one go. This may save time, but your clothes may not get optimally clean.
3. Set Store by Settings
While dorm washers may not be as finely calibrated as the one at home, it still pays to take recommended settings into account. Read tags before washing clothes; it might just save your favorite jeans from shrinking. Hot water kills germs, but washing in cold water is best for the longevity of your clothes. Similarly, a gentle cycle is less harsh on your garments and keeps them in better condition in the long run.
Many college students are tempted to use the Fast Cycle option to save time, but that has its own limitations. A shorter wash cycle could mean soiled clothes won’t be cleansed thoroughly. And thanks to the shorter spin cycle, heavier clothes may come out dripping wet and need more time in the dryer.
4. Master the Drying Cycle
You may love warm clothes fresh out of the dryer, but not all clothes can take such heat. Lingerie, athletic wear, and anything made of spandex can easily lose their fit and elasticity when exposed to high temperatures. Spread these items flat on a rack and air dry them instead. Don’t forget to flip them after a while so they dry out evenly.
Some people toss in a towel with the dryer load. This helps absorb moisture quickly and can speed up drying times. Adding dryer balls may also help as they improve air circulation by preventing the clothes from clumping. Dryer balls can also reduce wrinkling, soften clothes, and help keep static cling to a minimum.
5. Don’t Fold on Folding
Speaking of wrinkle avoidance, the last step is to fold your laundry promptly. Leaving just-dried clothes dumped on a chair or stuffed back in your hamper undoes much of the effort you put into washing them. Hung up in your closet or folded neatly in a drawer, they’ll stay free of both accidental spills and unwanted wrinkles. Plus, they won’t absorb the odor of your roommate’s running shoes or other smells from your dorm room.
Investing a little time to organize your closet can save you a lot of time in the future. Fold your clothes in a way that minimizes wrinkles and maximizes space. A closet organizer with hanging shelves is a good way to increase storage capacity if dresser space is tight. No one likes their roommate’s clothes strewn all over the room, so stay organized for yourself and those around you.
Mind Your Manners
Finally, remember that dorm laundry rooms are shared spaces. Be considerate by promptly emptying the machines, cleaning the lint trap in the dryer, and keeping the area tidy. If you won’t be back in time to unload a machine right away, leave your hamper there. That way, the next person can put your clothes into the hamper and use the machine themselves.
Just a little time and practice can make you the laundry guru of your dorm floor. Pro tip: Don’t leave laundry for the last thing to do on a weekend. Tend to it as early as possible so you’re not fighting lines and your closet is stocked for the week ahead. Your clothes reflect your personality, so make sure they’re looking fresh and smelling fabulous.