Dorm IQ #11 | Dorm Laundry 101

February 27, 2024

I only recommend products I do or would use myself and all opinions expressed are my own. I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, for purchases made through the links in this post. PSA’s full privacy policy is here.

How to prepare for doing dorm laundry.

Welcome to Topic 11 of Dorm IQ, a guide to collecting dorm laundry, cleaning dorm laundry and putting it away every time. Well ok, maybe not every time.

Let’s state the obvious. Very few people love doing laundry. Far fewer to love to do dorm laundry where you have to trudge down several floors or even buildings away to do it. When it comes to our students living in a dorm on a campus away from home, we can only hope that they don’t wear their favorite hoodie 10 times before finally washing it. A bottle of Febreeze can only go so far. Doing laundry has to be as easy and convenient as possible in hopes they do it more often.

Could they begin to love doing laundry? That’s probably a stretch. But read on for ideas and tools to make the chore of dorm laundry easier and less stressful.

College Prerequisite: Laundry 101

If your college-bound student is not already doing their own laundry at home, there is no time like the present to get them started! It is one of those life lessons that will always be useful. You can begin teaching them at almost any age, starting with sorting clothes by color, separating towels, understanding the different cycles, and handling a new red shirt. The more they familiarize themselves with the entire laundry routine, the likelier they will keep doing it once they head off to college.

See our 56 Life Skills For High Schoolers for more ideas on what to be sure to teach them before they leave home. 

Do Some Research On Your Dorm Laundry Situation

All schools are different, we say this all the time, and it is the same story with dorm laundry.

  1. Where are the laundry machines? The answers could be in your suite, on your hall, in your building (is there an elevator) or in another building.
  2. How much is it to do laundry? If there is a charge, you’ll probably be able to pay with your Student ID or an app. Most schools have done away with coin-operated machines, but you should check with your school.
  3. What laundry soap is permitted? Yep, there are rules on this too. Some say no liquid detergent, some say only liquid detergent. Some say no laundry detergent sheets or dryer sheets. The detergent sheets would be such a great option if allowed since they are so lightweight. Those liquid bottles are so heavy and cumbersome!

If you can’t easily find this information, please refer to our article on how to research your dorm room. This was Dorm IQ Topic #1!

Community laundry and dorm laundry basket

Dorm Laundry Hampers- Size Matters

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We would love for our students to do laundry every week, but we will take it if they do laundry every two weeks. The hamper needs to be able to fit at least two weeks of dirty laundry and yet not be overwhelming given the size of their dorm room. A fine line for sure!

Here are 3 different types of laundry hampers to consider:


Wheeled laundry hampers are a great solution IF you don’t have to navigate stairs to get to the laundry room. If you have to take stairs, move on to the next section!

Not having to carry a heavy hamper a long distance while also juggling laundry supplies is a big plus. Here are some wheeled laundry hamper options with rough measurements.

Sterlite Ultra Wheeled Hamper with Lid – 20″x15″, 26.75″ tall. You can clean this with a Clorox wipe while the clothes are in the machines, and then the clean laundry can ride back home inside it. Throw a small container in your accessories bag (see below).

Heavy Duty Wheeled Hamper – 18.1″x18.1″, 27″ tall. 4 wheels, 2 locking.

Heavy-Duty 3-Section Laundry Sorter Cart – 30.5″x17.5″. 33″ tall. This is fairly narrow but is a little over 30″ long.


Backpack hampers are a great alternative to rolling laundry carts. Please keep in mind that laundry can become heavy and consider what your student is capable of carrying. Some backpacks have built-in storage for laundry supplies. Others will require a separate bag or something to carry laundry supplies, see accessories below.

Dalykate Backpack Laundry Bag – One of our dorm group favorites.

Extra Large Backpack Laundry Bag With Padded Straps – If they really won’t do laundry very often…

3) Dorm Laundry Hampers To Carry

Simple Popup Mesh Laundry Bags – This very affordable 2-pack is great – one to fill with dirty laundry, and the other can be folded flat until ready to use.

Collapsible Laundry Hamper With 2 Washable Bag Inserts – A great option for a sturdy hamper with 2 removable and washable laundry bags – throw them right in with the dirty laundry.

XL Lamper Plastic Laundry Basket – A large basic laundry hamper that would be great for in-suite or very nearby laundry.

How to do dorm laundry in college

Carrying Clean Laundry Back To The Room

What’s the difference between laundry hampers and laundry baskets? My understanding is that hampers are for dirty clothes and baskets are for clean clothes, but I recognize these terms are used inconsistently! Regardless, knowing how gross and foul-smelling my boys’ dirty laundry can be, I’m not a fan of them putting their clean clothes back in the same vessel that holds their dirty clothes.

These are a few options for the clean clothes if you’d like a clean clothes only carrier.

Collapsible Laundry Basket – Use this to carry your clean laundry back to the room, to be immediately put away, of course. And take the advice of one of our Dorm Shopping Group members and be sure your student knows that this basket indeed expands and is not a “laundry tray”!

Collapsible Mesh Basket – A bit more lightweight and with straps to carry, this horizontal basket would make carrying folded clothes back to the dorm room an easy task. Put the clothes away and fold this flat to store.

Open Top Tote Bags – Show your school spirit or back your favorite pro team with a large open tote bag perfect for toting clean laundry to your room. Lots of other uses for this one too!

Dorm Laundry Drying Racks

For the clothes that need to lay flat to dry or hang dry, these are few options that can be folded away when not in use.

Wood & Stainless Collapsible Drying Rack – Takes a bit of floor space, but is good for laying clothes to dry (vs hanging them).

Tall Drying Rack For Hanging Clothes – Takes less floor space and is good for hanging clothes to dry on hangers.

Over Door Drying Rack – Good for hanging items or a few that need to dry ‘flat’.

Dorm Laundry Accessories

We’ve listed a few laundry helpers below. The easier it is for the student to carry and do the laundry, the more likely it will be done.

Set Of Mesh Washable Laundry Bags – For delicates or your favorite t-shirt or leggings, mesh laundry bags protect these items from the often rough commercial washing machines.

Waterproof Tote Bag For Laundry Supplies – Particularly helpful if you need to tote messy items such as liquid detergent.

Slim Hangers – These are the best! Slim hangers help save precious space on a short hanging rod. You have to look at the pictures to see how versatile these are thanks to the design.

Over the Cabinet Basket – An affordable basket to hold your laundry supplies that you can hang over a door, on your laundry hamper or over a bed slat.


While we may not get them to LOVE doing laundry in college, we can help them balance space constraints, easy to carry/roll laundry hampers, and convenient access to laundry supplies. With a bit of planning and the right tools, tackling the dorm laundry can become a manageable task, allowing students to fit it into their busy academic schedule.


Dorm IQ is a comprehensive learning series covering all of the questions frequently asked in our Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. The Facebook group is also a great source for prior years’ move-in pictures for decor and organizational ideas.

All of the Dorm IQ Topics can be found here.

Our complete Dorm Shopping Guide is available here.

Have More questions?

Still have questions? Please comment below, or come ask us in the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook group. So much great info in the group along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of move-in pictures from 2023 to give you ideas and inspiration.

=> Please share this article with your dorm-bound friends and their parents. I would love for everyone to understand the topics in Dorm IQ before they start dorm shopping!

Next Topic

Continue to the next topic on How To Create A College First Aid Kit

Dorm IQ an exclusive educational series focused on dorm comfort, wellness, safety, and savings.
Dorm IQ Next Topic
Complete Dorm Room Essentials List
View Our Dorm Recommendations
Dorm Shopping Group Facebook Get Help Dorm Shopping
Join Our Dorm Shopping Facebook Group
Create Custom Pet Pillow All About Vibe Save 25%
Create Your Custom Pillow
The Important Legal Documents For 18 Year Olds
Be There In An Emergency
Personal Safety Alarm For Women
Carry Peace Of Mind Wherever You Go

Important Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, a lawyer or a financial advisor. Please use this content as informational only and as only one input as you consider what options are best for you and your family. This is not professional advice.

Get More PSA Helpfulness:

Dorm IQ Welcome Page start here index to all of Dorm IQ series

Welcome To The Dorm IQ Learning Series | Start Here!

Welcome to Dorm IQ! Dorm IQ is an exclusive educational series focused on dorm comfort, wellness, safety, and savings. This is a free learning series to help parents and students prepare for dorm life and dorm shopping while saving money and headaches along the way....
Complete Dorm Room Essentials List

The Complete Dorm Room Essentials Guide: A Shoppable List

Welcome to the most complete list of college dorm room essentials, must-haves and a whole bunch of nice to haves. You will find a very long list of things to consider below, but you only need a fraction of them. Because when it comes to setting up your dorm room, less...
long distance college move in planning

How To Plan For A Long Distance College Move

Many students are traveling long distances to attend college these days, Not only can this be a bigger emotional toll when a trip home is most likely by airplane, but coordinating dorm shopping and getting all of your essentials to school can be a challenge as well....
College dorm essentials on sale at Target

Target Circle Week 4/7-4/13/24 | Dorm & College Deals Round-Up

Last Day To Shop Is Saturday, April 13th! Before you start shopping, you'll want to join Target Circle if you are not already a member. Target Circle is Target's free loyalty program. My Target Circle account has a 10% off one storewide purchase offer available right...
Tips and planning for college dorm move out

College Dorm Move Out Plan For A Positively Easy Day

Where did this school year go? And especially the second semester. They were just on Spring Break and like 10 minutes later, its time for the dorm move out already. The good news is that the dorm move-out is much easier than the dorm move-in and the months of planning...

Big Spring Sale Live Deal Tracker | March 20-25, 2024

Welcome to the Deal Tracking Page for the Dorm Shopping Recommendations & Deal Alerts Facebook Group. If you're shopping for a rising college freshman, please join us in the group for tested and researched recommendations, problem solving, deal alerts and regular...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest