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Laundry 101: Tips for Surviving Emory’s Most Challenging Class

“You need help with what?”

I curl my expertly painted fingernail a littler deeper into my palm and force myself to utter the words again.

“With my…uh…laundry.”

The RA glances over to her friends in the lounge, and I picture all four of them mocking me tomorrow morning over DUC eggs and Kaldi’s coffee.

Freshmen, they will inevitably muse.

I lead the way over to my poorly-packed washer, wishing I too could roll up inside of it.

Shame hovers over the fact that Emory laundry machines are very, VERY, simple to operate. With the exception of clothes and soap, the University provides everything else.  What about quarters, you ask? Speak no more—Emory washing is free. Toss. Squirt. Start. Very, VERY, simple.

This luxury is envied by students of many Universities nationwide, including my brother, who never seems to carry enough coins to de-stink the contents of his Boston College closet (but then again, maybe that’s a boy thing). Still, residing on such a high pedestal provides a steeper cliff from which to fall—and, for an Emory resident, struggling with laundry is seldom viewed as “understandable.”

But, then again, who says we were accepted into college on the basis of household chores and common sense? In order to save face and steer clear of embarrassment, here are some tips and tricks for navigating the laundry room.

1.  Let’s start with an important one. Load clothes into OPERATING washer and/or dryer machines ONLY.

Too obvious? Maybe. Have I made this mistake? Also, maybe. Regardless, an OUT OF ORDER washer will not sufficiently clean your clothes. It will not clean your clothes, period. What it will do, unfortunately, is hold them captive until an RA is fetched from the study lounge and the two of you have worked together to unplug this appliance.

2.  Assuming that you have followed Rule #1 and have thus selected an adequate machine, calmly review the washer’s settings. If you are fortunate enough to have chosen one of Emory’s older washers, you will find yourself staring at a single button—START. Press it and release.

The newer additions to Emory’s machines are slightly more complex. These technological marvels require users to choose between “Cold wash,” “Warm wash,” or “Hot wash.” To give a brief description of each, cold wash serves best for dark and bright colors, which would run and mix in hot water; hot wash is for whites and your dirtiest loads; and warm wash is somewhere in between, so do whatever the hell you feel like.

*Most importantly*: If for whatever drastic reason the wrong button is pressed, DO NOT yank at the door hinges like a wild chimpanzee. (Yes, I am unfortunately guilty of this.) Once the cycle has begun, the doors are locked until it has timed out and your clothes are beyond saving. Stand back and take three deep breaths. Your delicate white sports bra may be soiled with blues and grays, but better it than your reputation.

3.  Now that we’ve covered the mechanical basics, it’s time to unfold the other obstacles lurking in the linen baskets—fellow students. Relationships can be made or broken in the laundry room, and seeing as making friends freshman year is hard enough, this is NOT the place to overstep your bounds. In other words: “Wash-Hog” is not a cute nickname.

Due to this, and the ill ratio of appliances to residents in most dorm buildings, don’t be afraid to switch over someone’s clean laundry to make room for your own.  However, DO be afraid to do so without a) switching it to a dryer, or b) assembling it in a tidy heap on the table (not scattered). It may sound ridiculous to respect the lazy laundry-loader, especially if he or she would not have been so courteous to you, but again, it’s all about avoiding those uncomfortable interactions later.

She’ll never know it was me, you may think. So did I, until the owner of the clothes I was handling walked in on me tossing her tube tops and Lucky Brand Jeans on the floor.

Hopefully most of you are far past the day of working your first washer—and if you are not, by all means, clean your clothes! While following these guidelines will not altogether eliminate the stressors of the laundry room, they might better equip you to deal with them. Always remember that a stained reputation is 1000x darker than a stained piece of clothing, and that cleanliness beats B.O. every time!

Student journalist at Temple Univerisity with a love for health, humanity and story-telling. Check out my bylines on Philly.com, College Fashionista and The Temple News.
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