Campus Life 101: Laundry

For some students, washing clothes on their own for the first time can be a frustrating task, so here are some tips to make a laundry day at GW a bit easier.

August 24, 2018

Student pressing start button on washing machine

Campus Life 101 is a new series from GW Today that offers tips on the basics of navigating life at college, from staying safe to adjusting to college academics and managing stress.

By Briahnna Brown

With the introduction to independent living comes the introduction of taking care of independent errands and chores. Some incoming George Washington University students, as well as those who have been here for a few years, may not be very familiar with doing their own laundry. GW Today has put together some simple steps to follow to make the task of cleaning clothes a little less daunting.

1. Gathering laundry supplies
Before starting the laundry process, there are some supplies that are necessary:

  • A laundry hamper to transport loads of clothes to and from the laundry room
  • Laundry detergent in liquid, powder or pods with labeling that instructs on how much to use for each load
  • Clothes dryer sheets are optional but great for removing static, reducing lint and wrinkles and making clothes a bit softer
  • Stain remover, often in a spray or a pen, can help to pre-treat stains on clothing before washing
  • Mesh bags can protect delicate fabrics during washing  

2. Doing laundry: where and how
Laundry machines are available throughout GW’s residence halls, but because they can fill up fast, it is a good idea to try and use the machines during off-peak hours like after midnight or in the early morning. Fortunately, the GW Laundry Tracker, a service offered through GWorld and available 24/7 via smartphone or computer, allows users to check for any open machine, receive a text or email when the laundry cycle is complete and even reserve a machine.

Remember to keep laundry etiquette in mind, and retrieve laundry from machines promptly after they are finished so other students can wash their clothes too.

After finding an available machine, there are two ways to pay for it: quarters or the GWorld card, which all campus machines accept. Colonial Cash on the GWorld card can be deposited at any time online, in-person during the GWorld Office’s normal business hours or through the GET app. Dining dollars can also be used to pay for laundry if needed.

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3. Separating clothes
There are multiple ways to separate laundry, and it really comes down to what kind of clothing needs to be washed.

  • Check the tags on clothing to see if there are any special instructions such as hand wash only or dry clean only. Keep such items out of the machines. There are typically a series of symbols on clothing tags, which will correspond with written instructions. If there are no written instructions, or if the instructions are in another language, the symbols can be decoded to determine proper clothing care.
  • Make sure all pockets are empty and turn any clothing inside out that needs it. If any stains need to be pretreated, now would be the time.
  • Separate clothes based on type and/or color. Here are four suggested categories to separate your clothes: whites and light-colored clothing; dark-colored clothing; delicates such as silks, knits and satins; and towels, jeans and bedding.
  • Keep in mind: avoid mixing brightly colored clothing with white clothing, especially if the bright clothing is new or the white clothes likely will absorb traces of the brightly-colored clothes.

4. Using the machines
Remember not to overload the machines with clothes—a good rule here: if a hand cannot fit in the drum then the machine has too many clothes. Also, avoid using more detergent than necessary. Pay attention to instructions on the machines themselves to know where to put detergent depending on the type; operating instructions are posted on laundry room bulletin boards. If there are ever any issues with the laundry machines, just submit a FixIt request and select “Washer and Dryer.”

When washing, pay close attention to the temperature settings. Generally:

  • Use hot water for whites, linens and towels.
  • Use cold water for brights and delicates, really anything that could shrink or fade.
  • Use warm water for everything else. If unsure, cold water is safest choice.

When using the dryers, be sure to clean out the lint traps before use. Sometimes, clothing that was washed separately by color can be dried together because of type, so choose the setting that best fits the clothes:

  • Use the regular setting for whites, jeans, towels, linens and sheets, as well as anything that has been pre-shrunk.
  • Use the permanent press setting for clothes that can wrinkle or lose their shape.
  • Use the delicate setting for knits and anything else washed in the delicate cycle.

Toss in a dryer sheet with your load before turning it on. Also remember that wool clothing such as sweaters or anything that could shrink should never be put in the dryer. Instead, hang those items to dry. Remember to fold and hang your clothes as soon as the dryer is finished and your laundry  is done to avoid wrinkles later.