students doing laundry in the residence halls

The DOR offers Laundry Alert, an online system you can use to check which machines are in use in your building and how long until they are available - all from the comfort of your room! To use Laundry Alert:

If you have problems with a washer or dryer, contact ASI Campus Laundry Solutions at 1-800-762-3452. Have the machine id# available when you call.

How to Do Your Laundry

Some students have never done their own laundry prior to coming to college. At home, their dirty clothes disappeared from their bedroom floor or hamper and magically reappeared clean and wrinkle free in their drawers and closets. (Now might be a good time to call your Mom and thank her.)

Unfortunately, there is no laundry fairy in college. Unless you plan to wear the same dirty things repeatedly, you will need to do laundry. On average, you should plan on doing laundry about every two weeks - including sheets and towels. Here is what you need to know in order to do laundry on the ISU campus:

1. Be Prepared!

There are a few basic items you will need to get before you get started:

  • Laundry bag or basket. Chances are you will need to go downstairs to get to the laundry room, so get something to carry your clothes in. A suitcase will work if you want items that can do double duty - always a good idea in a residence hall room.
  • Laundry Detergent. The brand is up to you, but all ISU machines are High Effeciency, so make sure the detergent you choose has the HD symbol on the bottle or specifically states that it works in a high effeciency machine.
  • Fabric Softener / Dryer Sheets. Some people like to use liquid fabric softener in the washer, some people use dryer sheets in the dryer, some people do both. Or skip this step - your call.
  • CyCash. Laundry isn't free ($1 to wash, $1 to dry) and ISU machines only take CyCash. So use AccessPlus to put CyCash on your ISUCard before you leave your room.

2. Read the Labels and Sort Your Clothes

Thanks to the FTC, all garments must have a care instruction label. This label will tell you if there are restrictions on how an item can be laundered. If the label says “hand wash,” "gently cycle," or “dry clean only” BELIEVE THE LABEL

While you're sorting, check that all pockets are empty, remove accessories (like belts), and close all zippers and buttons. To protect fabrics and extend the life of your clothes, turn knitted items, corduroy, textured fabric, and sweatshirts inside out.

You can sort your laundry a variety of ways, but generally, four piles should do the trick:

  • Lights - whites, pastels, light gray and white background prints
  • Darks - black, red, navy, brown, dark gray
  • Delicates / gentle cycle items
  • Towels / jeans / bedding

If you don't have enough for a full load, there can be some overlap. For example, you can throw jeans, towels, or bedding in with lights or darks depending on their color. Just never mix your lights and darks - especially reds / purples and whites.

3. Head to the Laundry Room

Sometimes it seems like everyone does laundry at the same time, so there can be competition for machines. Before you head out, use Laundry Alert to make sure that there are washers available. You can also do your laundry at less popular times - early morning, late night, middle of the day, etc. At odd times, you may be able to use multiple washers, cutting your laundry time in half.

4. Load the Washer

When adding your clothes, add them one item at a time, until the washer is about 3/4 full. Do not overfill the washer! The clothes need room to move about in the water in order to get clean. If you are using a Gel Pack detergent, place it directly in the washer with your clothes. Otherwise, each washer has a diagram on top telling you where the detergent / fabric softener / bleach goes. Do not use more than the recommended amounts:

  • Powder = 1/4 cup
  • Liquid = 1/8 cup
  • Concentrated Liquid = 1/16 cup

Before shutting the door, make sure you have everything in that needs washed. Once the washer starts, you shouldn't reopen the door until the drum stops rotating and the door lock light turns off.

5. Choose Your Washer Settings.

ISU washers have the following setting:

  • Whites (Hot Wash - Cold Rinse, High Spin)
  • Colors (Warm Wash - Cold Rinse, High Spin)
  • Delicates (Cold Wash - Cold Rinse, Low Spin)
  • Permanent Press (Warm Wash - Cold Rinse, Medium Spin)

You can usually use the Colors setting. Unless your clothing is covered in dirt, washing in warm water with a cold rinse will get everything clean and avoid shrinking your clothes. Also, the higher the spin, the more water extracted during washing - so less drying time is needed. However, at least every other time, you should wash bed linens and towels on hot to sanitize them, so go for the Whites setting them.

6. Pay and Wait

Once your machine is loaded, make note of the machine number and go to the CBORD machine on the wall. Swipe your ISUCard through the reader to make payment - $1 per wash - and follow the instructions on the machine. When you've completed all the steps, your washer will start. Ideally, you should stay with your laundry while it washes - read a book, do some homework, talk on the phone. If you do decide to leave the laundry room, keep in mind that each wash cycle is 35 minutes. Be back on time so that other residents don't have to wait.

7. Into the Dryer

As you move the items from washer to dryer, you'll need to sort again, this time by fabric. Lightweight items go in one load that will take less drying time; heavy items in a separate load that will take more drying time. You'll also need to read labels again. Some fabrics can be damaged by the heat of a dryer. If in doubt, keep it out. As you're loading the dryer, keep in mind that the more items you put in, the longer they will take to dry. This is also the point at which you can add a dryer sheet if you like.

8. Clean the Lint Trap

This is not optional. If not cleaned, the lint screen can catch fire! Take the lint screen out, scrape off and throw away any lint, and then put the lint screen back in the dryer.

9. Choose Your Dryer Settings

ISU dryers have the following settings:

  • High Temp - for towels and bedding
  • Medium Temp - for general everyday drying
  • Low Temp - for items that might shrink
  • Delicates - for items that must be washed on gentle cycle

Generally, Medium Temp will work for most lightweight loads while High Temp should be used for towels, bedding, and other items you are sure won't shrink. The Delicate setting should be used for gentle wash items. (Nobody uses Low Temp - we're not sure why it's even there.)

10. Pay and Wait

Once your machine is loaded, make note of the machine number and go to the CBORD machine on the wall. Swipe your ISUCard through the reader to make payment - $1 for 60 minutes, 25 cents for each additional 15 minutes - and follow the instructions on the machine. When you've completed all the steps, your dryer will start. Once again, ideally, you should stay with your laundry while it dries. If you do decide to leave, be back before the time on your dryer is up so that other residents don't have to wait.

11. Take In Out, Fold It Up

When your dryer stops, start taking your clothes out right away. (If your dryer sheet falls out, please pick it up and throw it away.) Ideally, you would fold each item as you took it out to prevent wrinkling. However, if people are waiting, be kind and take everything out at once and move it to the folding table - there's at least one in each laundry room. You can also take your clothes back to your room and fold them there.

12. Laundry Room Etiquette

You would think some of these things would go without saying, but we're saying them anyway.

  • Stay with your laundry if at all possible.
  • Take your clothes out of the washer /dryer you are using as soon as possible so that others don't need to wait for an open machine.
  • Do not take other people's clothes out of the washer / dryer and put them on top of the machine, on the table, or the floor.
  • Do not put your wet clothes into another resident's dryer without their permission.
  • Do not take clothes that are not your own.
  • If someone accidentally left their detergent / fabric softener / dryer sheets in the laundry room, this does not mean it is communal property. Using it without the owner's permission is theft.