Frustrations surrounding laundry in residence halls avoidable

By Grace Morris
Elm Staff Writer

When it comes to the transition from home to dorm living, there are a lot of stressful things to consider. High on the list of concerns many students have is the dreaded task of doing laundry in shared washers and dryers.

At home, I share a washer and dryer with three other people. I can choose what time is most convenient for me and there is a high likelihood that the machines will be free for me to use.

The same is not true when I am sharing a laundry room with an entire floor of people — or even with an entire building — at college.

“Laundry backups and machine availability [have] definitely been an issue in our hall,” freshman Stephen Hook said.

According to Hook, who lives in Minta Martin Hall, students often forget they’ve put a load in the washer and leave their clothes in the machines for extended periods of time.

This is a frustrating yet familiar situation for many students on campus. There never seem to be enough machines to go around. On days like Saturday and Sunday, when students are usually the most available to do a load of laundry, the problem is exacerbated even further.

“On weekends, people are out living their lives. They’re bound to throw their laundry in and go about their day, hogging the machines for hours at a time,” sophomore Aaliyah Herbert said.

I live in Cullen Hall on a floor with around 35 people. We have two washing machines and two dryers to share. I can’t recall how many times someone messaged our floor GroupMe asking someone else to remove their laundry from a machine.

To make laundry more efficient and less stressful for students, Washington College should consider adding more machines where there is room. Adding just one extra washer and dryer would greatly relieve some of the laundry trouble in residence halls.

Getting new machines wouldn’t just fix the issue of backups, either. In some halls, broken machines make the already stressful process even more tiring.

“Our washing machine was making weird noises so I went to check it out, and the machine was jumping up and down and moving toward the door,” senior Katherine Desrosiers said.

This is just one example of old machines going haywire on campus. Last semester, there were quite a few times where I took my clothes out of the dryer and they were still sopping wet despite running for an hour on high heat.

Although having additional machines would be helpful, it is not an immediate fix. Hook suggested a solution that students and residence assistants can implement immediately.

“I think utilizing an online sign-up sheet or something similar that allows students to reserve time slots would greatly reduce the frustration and disorganization around laundry,” Hook said.

This is not an outlandish idea. There are already QR codes available in some laundry rooms across campus that allow students to set a reminder for when their laundry will be finished. If students could simply scan a QR code at the start of each week to choose a time slot to do their laundry, it would make it much simpler to spread out the many loads that need to be done.

And, as Hook mentioned, knowing when machines will be available can relieve laundry-related stress for students.

As an alternative solution, we have placed a small whiteboard on the washing machines that students sign their names on when we put in a load at Cullen Hall. This means the next person who needs the machine can directly message the person who left their clothes behind.

This is not ideal. It’s a solution that only works when everyone remembers to sign their name on the board and is responsive when they are messaged about their laundry. However, it is an attempt at an inexpensive fix to a seemingly never-ending problem.

Sharing laundry machines with a few dozen people will never be as simple as having a personal in-home machine. But by replacing broken machines and adding new ones to overwhelmed halls, the stress of the chore could be greatly reduced for students.

Photo by Jakob Watt

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