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One of the biggest challenges in coming to college was learning to do my own laundry. I have been stopped by many people in the laundry room just saying, “Hey, can I ask you something?” or “Do you know if I can…?” So I decided, wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a list of questions, answers, tips and tricks that people could use? Voila! Here is my list:

Detergent: The cap to the detergent is a measuring tool. Nifty, eh? If you don’t feel like lugging a large container of detergent all the way to the washer, switch to something else. I use Gain Flings, which are much more convenient and lighter to carry. You can check the instructions on the lid, but I tend to use only one or two, regardless of how full my load is.

Drying: I do not dry any of my nice looking clothes because it makes them shrink. You can if you want to but the more you dry it, the smaller it will become especially over time.

So how do you dry clothes instead? Normally, I hang the clothes on hangers around my room and let them air dry. I have a lot less room in a dorm. But I looked closely at my bedframe and realized there were little pieces of metal where my thick plastic hanger fits perfectly. I slid the top of the hanger in sideways and then pulled it towards me and it stayed. I overlapped the hangers and clothes, threw on a rotating fan and left it for an hour or two. The next time I checked, they were dry!

Delicates and Hand Washing: I have not hand washed anything. Often, tags say to hand wash an item because it is too delicate to put in the washer. But depending on the article of clothing, you can most likely put it in the washer. Just remember it’s in there. You can wash it inside out, which is gentler on the fabric. Run the washer on a gentler cycle, like delicates, and use the coldest water. You can put them in the dryer too if you need, but I tend to just hang them up. Use a slightly lower heat if you use the dryer.

Dryer Sheets: These help make your clothes smell a little nicer and keep them from being full of static when they come out of the dryer. You do not need them but I like them. It doesn’t matter how big your load is. You do not need to use more than two. It will get around, I promise! Don’t waste your money.

Wrinkles, but no iron: I discovered this trick during a long trip. My shirt was wrinkled from being folded so long. I took the shirt and laid it flat on my hand. I used the hairdryer on a medium to high heat (whatever your skin can stand) and I placed the end of it right onto the shirt. I moved it up and down the wrinkled area slowly, just as you would with an iron. It may take a little longer, and it doesn’t get rid of every wrinkle, but it definitely works in a pinch. And in the winter, your clothes become warm and toasty!  

Bras: Do not run your bra through the dryer. Hang it up and throw a fan on it instead. When you run bras through the dryer, the wire in them heats up and it can deform or change shape, sometimes irreversibly, so it won’t fit right. I have saved myself a lot of money and a lot of bras by keeping them out of the heat.  

Jeans: If you have lots of jeans, you should run them in their own small, separate cycle. New jeans, especially, have a lot of dye in them and they tend to bleed all over other items in the wash. Washing them inside out, as well as washing them on cold, is supposed to help them keep their color. I always wash on cold because heat allows things to let go of their color. (It’s generally quicker that way, too.)

Removing lint: You may be wondering, do you have to remove the lint from the dryer filter? Yeah, you do. But there are two reasons: The one the RAs will tell you is that taking out the lint decreases the risk of fires. The actual motivation is that if you take out the lint, your clothes dry faster!

Whites: Do whites have to dry on their own? No, not really. I have dried my whites and colors together. Just keep them away from jeans and other clothes like tie-dye that bleed a lot of color.

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned since starting college laundry. Hopefully these help, and never be afraid to ask around in the laundry room. It makes us laundry-doers feel pretty great about ourselves!


Ellie is a Junior at MCLA, currently studying Creative Writing, Musical Performance, and Arts Management. She writes stories, poems, music, and now articles, digging around in her own life for inspiration. Ellie desires to travel the world, seeking inspiration as well as to build a large array of memories to look back on long down the road. So far, she has been to Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Slovenia, with France and The Netherlands on her list of where to go next. In her free time, Ellie pretends she is a professional video gamer, competing against friends and family.