Laundry machines

Laundry 101: your guide to clean

Some of you may have grown accustomed to having someone else do your laundry (thanks, mom!). The time is quickly approaching when you're going to have to cart that massive pile of clothes you've let sit in the corner of your room, down to the laundry room and give it a go. Don't panic. We'll cover the basics, share a few tips, and get you on your way. Let's start with what you'll need.

There's quite a bit of opinion out there related to buying your soaps versus making your own. You decide what you're comfortable with and let's move on. 

Step One: Sort

Take a few minutes and organize your clothes into four basic piles.

  1. Whites/Lights
  2. Darks
  3. Delicates
  4. Towels/Jeans

#1 RULE: Do not EVER mix a new dark colored item in with your lighter colors or whites.

College freshmen

Once you've sorted, you'll need to fill up your basket and head to the laundromat.

PRO TIP: If you're trying to manage an overloaded laundry basket and can't possibly balance or carry your full bottle of detergent, simply pour some into an empty water bottle and only take what you think you're going to need.

Step two: Plan

Each residence hall is equipped with complete laundry facilities, free and for resident use only. Check out LaundryView to see which machines are available. If you're not living on campus and plan on hitting a laundromat, don't forget to bring extra quarters for both the washer and the dryer.

Step three: Dial

Time to make your selections on the washer. You should check the tags on any pieces of clothing that you are unsure how to wash. There's a secret code on there that will tell you things like water temperature, bleach or no bleach, whether or not it can be ironed, and so on. Here's a cool cheat sheet from

If you have a delicate, it can either be hand-washed (see magical demo below), dry-cleaned or toss them into a garment bag (try Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc.) and wash them on a gentle cycle with like colors.


Here's a general guide to choosing water temperature.

  • hot for whites, linens and towels
  • cold for anything you don’t want to shrink or fade (including any whites that fall into this category)
  • warm for everything else

When in doubt use cold water. It's the temperature less likely to ruin anything.

Next, choose the size of your load. If you are unsure, choose the bigger size to make sure the load will get enough water.

Once your load is washed, it's time to hit the dryer. Choose the setting that best describes your clothing. Not sure? Choose “normal.” And remember, NEVER put wool or anything you don’t want to shrink in the dryer.

Step four: Fold

This is where things can easily start to fall apart. You've washed like a champ, now you need to fold and put it all away like a champ. Wrinkles are no fun. It just means having to iron and nobody wants to deal with that step if you don't have to.

Step five: Iron

Have to give a presentation in class today and need to look profesh? Or did you skip step four and now you're paying the price? Either way, ironing isn't hard, it's just another step. See if your roommate would be up for splitting costs on an iron and a small ironing board.

PRO TIP: You can also use a table top with a folded towel on top of it if you're short on room to store an ironing board. Just remember to shut off your iron when you're done.

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