9 laundry tips every college student should know

College students doing laundry
College students doing laundry (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Back to school is here already, and that means students will soon be off to college. For those first years, all kinds of advice gets imparted, from the best appliances for student living, all the way to 7 cleaning hacks every college student should know. But, one area which tends to get overlooked is laundry. So many students start college without even knowing the basics when it comes to the best washing machines

That’s why we’ve pulled together some essential advice for you. We’ve compiled 9 laundry tips every student should know, considering everything from what to do with stained clothes, to how to stop your laundry from smelling. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, there’s advice here which everyone can learn from.  

Plus, you might want to know, clothes steamer vs steam iron — which is best?

1. Have a set 'laundry day' 

Student looking at book while doing laundry

Student looking at book while doing laundry (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Rather than doing laundry whenever it’s convenient, it’s ideal to have a scheduled laundry day. That way, it’s already in the diary as part of a routine, and will make laundry chores more manageable.  

In addition, it will save college students time and money with fewer trips to the washing machine. Plus, there is always time to read a book or do school work while waiting!

2. Sort your laundry  

Loading a washing machine with colored clothes

Loading a washing machine with colored clothes (Image credit: Shutterstock)

While it may seem quicker to just throw everything in at once, always separate colors into piles of whites, lights and darks. This will prevent darker colors from running or bleeding into lighter clothing. What’s more, you won't be able to save a favorite, white t-shirt once it turns pink! 

3. Read the care labels carefully  

Hand wash care label

Hand wash care label (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Who reads care labels at college? Reading care labels may seem tedious, but washing at correct temperatures will prevent the risk of shrinkage or damage. In addition, wash clothes with similar washing instructions, within the same color load. 

If you do find all the care labels a little confusing, find out what do laundry symbols mean, and if you can put ‘hand wash only’ clothes in the washing machine before loading your favorite outfits. 

4. Treat stains immediately 

White shirt with oil stains on sleeve

White shirt with oil stains on sleeve (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether it be cocktails from a frat party, late-night snacking or morning coffee, clothes will be subject to all kinds of stains. It’s best to act quickly, and treat fabric stains immediately. 

Simply apply liquid detergent on a clean cloth before gently dabbing away at the area, or use a stain remover. The longer you leave the stain, the harder it will be to remove completely in the laundry. 

You might also need to know how to remove oil stains from clothes, or how to remove blood stains quickly, in case you have an accident. 

5. Don’t overload the washing machine  

Overloading washing machine

Overloading washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

We all want to spend less time doing laundry, but one of the biggest mistakes is to overfill the washing machine.  Not only can a packed machine make it harder to clean our clothes thoroughly, but it can disrupt the spin cycle. This will leave you with wet (and dirty!) items at the end of the cycle. 

Similarly, don’t underfill the washing machine as this will use more detergent than needed, which can leave a sticky residue on clothing. Always fill to the required capacity of the washing machine, so that it can handle the load more efficiently (so you don’t have to start over!).  

6. Turn clothes inside out  

Putting shirt into the washing machine

Putting shirt into the washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Most college students like to have the latest, 'on-trend' clothing, so the last thing they need is to ruin them in the laundry. Always turn clothes inside out before putting them in the machine, especially if they have graphics and logos printed on them. Such t-shirts can often fade after many washes, so turning them inside out will help to reduce this.  

7. Swap liquid detergent for ‘pods’ 

Pouring laundry detergent

Pouring laundry detergent (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Swap those big bottles of liquid detergent for a pod detergent instead. Not only do you avoid messy spills with liquid detergent, but most college students use more than needed. The pod or gel tablet detergents are premeasured, safe to use and mess-free. What’s more, they are compact and easier to store if you lack space in your dorm room. 

If you do want to stick to liquid detergent however, ensure you measure carefully, and read the label for quantity information. It’s important to use the right dose of detergent to get better laundry results. 

8. Wash on a low temperature 

Quick Wash Setting

Quick Wash Setting (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alongside reading the care labels, experts recommend to wash your clothes at or below 30 degrees (Celsius). This will ensure that your clothes are clean, and reduce the risk of clothes fading or shrinking in the wash. Plus, it’s more cost-effective and good for the environment.  

9.  Unload the washer/dryer straight away 

A woman holding her nose as she looks at laundry inside the washing machine

A woman holding her nose as she looks at laundry inside the washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s so easy for college students to throw in their laundry, set it to wash and then leave it to do other things. But always unload the washer or dryer straight away to prevent nasty odors, and help clothes air out quickly. 

To avoid smells, it’s always best to hang damp clothes to dry immediately. If you can’t hang outdoors, use a clothes horse/rack in a well-ventilated area. Plus, if you want to avoid ironing, folding and putting away clothes while still warm, will prevent wrinkles. It’s a win-win!

How often should a college student do laundry?

Overflowing laundry basket

Overflowing laundry basket (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Depending on how quickly you go through their wardrobe, it’s recommended that the average college student should do laundry once a week. Obviously, there will be times when busy timetables or social lives will take priority, but the key is to never let laundry build up. Plus, no one likes a dorm room smelling of dirty clothes!

Be sure to check out the best back to school sales and our back to school guide for some great deals on both classroom and dorm room essentials. 

If your dorm has seen better days, be sure to also check out 7 cleaning hacks every college student should know. What’s more, if you’re tight on dorm room space, here are 7 tips to save space in a student dorm room.  You can also read our guide on the 7 bedding tips every college student should know. While you prepare for college, you can also read about why one of our editors thinks you should get a gaming laptop as your next work or college laptop.

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!

With contributions from