Campus Laundry Leaves Students Out to Dry

By Andrea Clarke

Elm Staff Writer

To do laundry, or not to do laundry: That is the question.  Is it better to suffer the expense, long-waits, and irregular temperature of Washington College’s laundry machines, or to avoid the ordeal altogether and drag one’s dirty clothes back home for weekends and holidays?  Indeed, this question is on the mind of many WC students who see the task of doing laundry as more than just a chore.

The situation has become so exasperating that freshman Sam Fitzgerald has resorted to taking his clothes across to Kent Plaza where he finds the fees, quality, and quantity of service offered at Kent Town Laundry much more agreeable.

“[The machine] ate my Patagonia,” says Fitzgerald. According to Fitzgerald, the texture and quality of his expensive fleece was damaged by the extreme heating of the dryer, a problem that he constantly encounters with the laundry machines of Gibson.  He is also frustrated by the amount of clothes each machine holds per load.

“The machines here only give you about two backpacks-worth of space to fit all your stuff in.  I have to pay to wash two loads of laundry that at home I could clean in one,” he said.

“Each load can only hold [about] five shirts, some pants, some socks, and a few pairs of underwear,” said freshman Mike Mulhearn, “and they don’t even wash my clothes . . . I pay $1.50 for my clothes to sit in detergent and water for half an hour [and] then I pay another $1.50 for them to not even dry in the dryer.”

Despite the 50 to 60 minute drying period, it is not unusual to find clothes still damp, forcing students to re-do the load and pay again.  As a result, Mulhearn tries to do his laundry at home whenever possible “so [he] can actually enjoy some real clean [and dry] clothes.”

Junior Michael Drake has taken this strategy to the extreme: In three years he has only done one load of laundry on campus.

His sole laundry experience “seemed to cause more problems than it solved,” said Drake.  Money is a major deterrent for Drake, especially since the capacity of WC washers cannot handle his usual load.

“It’s easier for me to just go home every once in a while . . . [where] laundry is free,” he said.  Junior Jesse Schaefer has a similar outlook and also finds that laundry done at home is more beneficial because there she does not have to “deal with the logistics of working around other people’s schedules” or worry about “laundry room etiquette.”

What can WC do to improve its laundry system?  Freshman student PJ Miller would like to see “more machines and perhaps larger, industrial equipment,” especially in Middle Hall where there are only two washers and dryers for the entire dorm.

Schaefer feels that it would be easier to “[locate] the recharge machines in the laundry rooms instead of the Student Center” or, even better, “use ID cards as a means of paying for laundry.”

Mulhearn is adamant that “WC invest in some decent laundry machines that actually clean my clothes.”

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