It occurred to me that laundry advice for university Freshers would make a really useful post. This was after our teen who is off to University soon asked whether we thought it would be more cost effective just to buy new clothes than to use a launderette!
This is an advertorial piece.
Luckily for us he’s been using a washing machine for a long time, but actually washing clothes can be more complicated than it first seems.
Shopping for Your Laundry
When it comes to shopping for your laundry there are going to be things that are one-off purchases; things you need to buy occasionally and finally things that you need to buy regularly.
One-Off Laundry Purchases
Hopefully you will not need to buy a washing machine and dryer when you move out to University because they will be provided at the property. However, if you do need to buy them you may want to think about how they are with energy. Especially with prices rising so sharply currently! Look for energy ratings. We have just purchased a heat pump dryer to help with the costs.
You will also need to purchase:
- A wash basket for storing your dirty clothes. Pop up ones are good because they are easy to store when (if) empty.
- A washing basket for moving the clothes to and from the machines.
- A clothes horse or airing rack (again unless one is provided at the property).
- And/or washing line and pegs (and peg bag) if the property has a garden.
- An iron and ironing board.
You may also want to buy eco or dryer balls to help save on energy. We have never found that these have worked particularly well though.
Regular Laundry Purchases
Obviously you are going to regularly need laundry detergent. This comes in various forms. You need to decide on whether you want liquid, powder or tablet form. Bio or non-bio. Not forgetting to pay attention to the smells. Which you decide on may be determined but what is used at home. Or you may opt for biological powder because it is the cheapest option!
Again to be more eco you may wish to try something like soap nuts – once more we found that this wasn’t a good option for us!
On top of this you may want to use fabric softener.
Occasional Laundry Purchases
Then there are purchases that you may wish to buy that aren’t required for every wash. Such as stain removers. We find the green stain removing soap/bar are really good at tackling specific stains. Whereas we add the Vanish oxi action powder for more general use (we have both white and coloured washing versions). There are also stain removing sprays – it may be a case of just trial and error with what works best for your needs and budget.
Optional Extra Laundry Purchases
The first optional extra are colour catchers. These are great for ensuring you don’t put your laundry in as one colour and take them out as another. Very good for new clothes that may run, really dirty clothes and if you want to mix whites and colours as you only have a small load (see more about that below).
Another is dryer sheets. These can leave your washing softer and more scented.
The final two optional extras that we use are to help look after the machine. We add Dettol laundry cleanser and Calgon. I am sure that there are many more options out there.
How To Wash Your Clothes
First make sure you empty all the pockets.
Next check the labels. Then you need to make some decisions based on what they say. Some clothes need hand washing only. Or you may want to soak them. We find a bucket is useful for this. It can double up as a sickie bucket too! Just make sure it is washed thoroughly between the two uses if you do!
Either sort your washing into whites and colours (and further into reds if there’s a lot) or throw it all in together on a low wash with a colour catcher. You also need to decide if you want to wash different types of materials together or not.
Make sure you do not over fill the machine. Making these different piles of colours can help decide which you are going to wash together (or not) – as you also don’t want the load to be too empty!
Then check the temperature and setting. You may pick the programme designed for your clothes – or you may stick to one programme for all your washes!
Drying and Ironing
I would say make sure that my top tip is don’t leave clothes wet as it makes them smell. We have a “wet bucket” so that anything wet is priotised in the wash. Things that need stain treating and get very wet are usually left to soak with water that covers them. If you have to leave washing in the machine whilst wet do not leave them there too long, and keep the door shut. Make sure that when drying them on a clothes horse/airer or on the line that they are as flat as possible.
Decide whether you will iron your clothes or not. If not it is best to hang them up as soon as possible. Then you need to decide if you will iron them all at once or just when you want to wear them.
Alternatives to Washing and Drying Your Clothes at Home
It may be that you do not have a washing machine and dryer. Or may be that all of the above is too complicated. Perhaps, however, you are just short on time with all the studying. You may wish to use a launderette (where you can opt for a service wash). If using the machines (which are now also available outside some supermarkets) make sure you have some change.
Alternatively there are washing services such as LaundryHeap who offer laundry, dry-cleaning and ironing services. The on-demand laundry service offers free collection and delivery within 24 hours. Easily bookable via the website or app. Available in 10 countries and 26 cities. Note I have never personally used LaundryHeap and several people on social media are not happy with their service.
This could be used as a regular thing or a one-off gift from parents if their child is far away – perhaps to help them settle in, or if they are particularly busy with their course.