dorm laundry tips

10 Easy Dorm Laundry Tips That Will Make Your Mom Proud

Impress your friends and roommates with these dorm laundry tips that will keep you looking (and smelling) good


Female college students say they do their laundry once a week. Male students claim they do theirs every two weeks, but as their moms know, they’re just saying that for the camera.

The truth for both men and women is probably closer to “Every three weeks … or until I go home. Or run out of underwear.” But as a student, if you follow these dorm laundry tips, the whole thing will be easier and less stressful. And you’ll have your favorite items available to wear more often.

dorm laundry tips

10 Dorm laundry tips that may be more important than comp 101

Dorm laundry tip #1: Don’t just throw your dirty clothes on the floor.

Whatever your gender, mom isn’t at college with you to pick up your dirty clothes and magically whisk them into the laundry. Be considerate of roommates and visitors. Buy yourself a laundry hamper and keep your unmentionables out of sight!

Dorm laundry tip #2: Check your pockets for change. Or cellphones.

Really. Check every single pocket in your dirty laundry. You never know what you’ll find – or rescue. Close zippers, hooks, snaps and hook-and-loop fasteners, unbutton everything, unbunch socks and unroll cuffs.

For lingerie or fine knit items, invest in a mesh bag to keep them safe from the washer’s vigorous cleaning action.

Dorm laundry tip #3: Sort it out.dorm laundry tips

Your laundry, that is. The experts (moms) differ on how many piles, but the fact is that you don’t want to spend all day doing four or more separate loads, and besides, hogging the machines is poor laundry etiquette.

Sort your whites and lights, darks, and delicates. Or wash everything in cold water. Or invest in color-catching sheets that you can throw into the wash to attract dyes away from your clothes. Or, failing all of the above, learn to live with pink socks.

(In other words: Never wash a dark red shirt with whites. And wash new items in dark colors separately for a few washes.)

Also check care labels to make sure you’re not about to wash a “dry-clean only” item in a regular warm wash.

Dorm laundry tip #4: Don’t overstuff.

Yes, you can throw it all together in one load per Tip #3 above, but you probably won’t be able to fit it all into the machine anyway. A good rule of thumb: If you have to push on the machine door to close it, it’s too full.

If you overstuff, you’ll wind up with half a load clean and the other half still dry and dirty, so you won’t save time anyway. A “full” load really means about two-thirds of the washer. Trust us on this one.

Dorm laundry tip #5: Wash your sheets and towels.

The consensus among moms is that their college students never wash their bed linens. This makes moms shudder in horror. And if you’ve ever seen one of those photos of bedbugs or microbes that live in your sheets, you would, too. Bottom line: Wash. Your. Sheets. (In warm water.)

To make life easier though, buy two sets of sheets and towels, so you can change them out when you want, instead of the same day you’re doing laundry. One miracle at a time, right?

There are plenty of inexpensive yet luxurious sheet sets that make this doable.

While we’re on the subject of bedding, let’s just say that college dorm mattresses have probably seen better days. So even if you wash your sheets regularly, protect yourself with a mattress cover.

Dorm laundry tip #6: Use the right washer settings.dorm laundry tips

Even if you’ve never done your own laundry before, it’s not rocket science and you’ve totally got this.

  • Whites/lights: Hot water
  • Bright colors: Cold
  • Sheets, towels and other in-between color items: Warm

When in doubt, choose cold to protect your clothes. Never throw in something that should be dry cleaned – and never throw a wool sweater into the dryer unless you need it to be several sizes smaller.

If you have to choose the size of your load, make your best estimate. If you’re not sure, choose the bigger size to make sure the load gets enough water.

Dorm laundry tip #7: Move your load to the dryer.

First, check the dryer’s lint trap. Lint not only causes fires, but also adds to your drying time.

And as you move your load into the dryer, remember to shake out each item. This will minimize wrinkles and make life easier. Also, those delicates you’re supposed to wash in a mesh bag? Don’t put them into the dryer unless you like your lingerie cooked well-done. Line dry only!

Usually, you’ll get to choose a dryer mode. For most loads, choose Permanent Press, which helps avoid wrinkles. Otherwise, go with high heat for whites/lights, and low heat for special fabrics.

Dorm laundry tip #8: Empty the dryer and fold!

Try to be on the spot when the dryer finishes so you can get your clothes out before they take on enough wrinkles to look like grandma. Folding? Yes, it’s an art, but you’re in college and in a hurry, so do your best and we won’t judge – again, the goal is to keep yourself from looking like you live out of the laundry basket. Even if you do.dorm laundry tips

Dorm laundry tip #9: Those line-dry items …

Remember Tip #7 above? Where we advised you not to put your delicates items in the dryer? Yes, you should be air-drying those things. No, it’s not easy in a dorm room. Invest in an over-the-door towel rack for your closet or dorm room door.

This allows you to stash your towels after a shower and also gives you a space to air-dry those delicates.

Dorm laundry Tip #10: If you ignored Tip #9 …

Got wrinkles? It happens. One way around this is to throw a damp item of clothing into a dryer with the wrinkled items. This helps get out the wrinkles, especially if you remember this time to pull everything out the minute the dryer stops.

Your fall-back position, though, is to keep an iron and a dorm room-sized ironing board on hand. You can use a small ironing board on a desk or dresser, and you won’t have to look like you slept in your clothes.

If you establish a regular laundry routine, choosing a time during the week (or every other week, or every third week …) when you don’t have anything else lighting up your agenda, it all becomes easier to manage.

You may not be inspired by mom’s pleas or by this advice, but remember this: If nothing else, wearing clean clothes is a huge bonus to your social life. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on laundry, storage or bedding items at, where we discount prices, but never quality.