One of the perks of living at home is that Mom or Dad usually does the laundry.
That’s not the case, however, if you’re a college student far away from your parents. For better or worse, when you’re getting your four-year degree, it’s mostly up to you to handle your laundry.
Doing laundry on your own doesn’t just take time out of your schedule; it also takes money.
Whether you clean your clothes on campus or go off-campus to a local laundromat, expect to pay about $2 to $3 a load to wash and dry your clothes.
That may seem ultra cheap, but doing the equivalent of two loads a week at $3 a load will set you back more than $200 during the school year.
It’s a hidden college cost I discuss in College Secrets, and one of those many expenses that most students forget to include when planning their college budgets.
Read: 10 Shopping Tips to Save Money on Groceries
Laundry Service on Campus
Fortunately, some schools are now including laundry services as part of their tuition and fees. You just swipe your campus ID card, or a special card given to you for laundry use, and use the on-campus laundry facilities to clean your own clothes.
Other schools make you use coin-operated machines to do the laundry.
Until recently, one exception to this practice was Davidson College, a private liberal arts school in North Carolina.
At Davidson, students simply dropped off their clothes in bags at an on-campus laundry center. A day or two later, the clothes got returned to them cleaned and even folded. That sweet perk, however, has recently gone away.
As of May 2015, students at Davidson now have to do their own laundry. The change will save the school about $400,000 a year.
Off-Campus Laundry Services
You can also sometimes find cheap off-campus laundry services, like MyLazyBones, which will come to your college once a week, pick up your clothes, and do the laundry for you — at prices that vary based on the region or campus. Be sure to check around for the best local rates.
Some laundry operators serving colleges and universities charge students as much as $1,000 per academic year for this service.
You can save on overall laundry costs by wearing jeans, sweatpants and other clothing that doesn’t have to be washed after a single use.
Also, pay attention to your activities.
Are you the kind of guy who’ll be playing football games on the lawn almost daily with your buddies, eating pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or partaking in pie-eating contests?
If so, pretty much all of those things can virtually guarantee that your laundry bills will be higher.
Washing Your Own Laundry
When you wash your dirty clothes, don’t waste money on expensive detergents and other costly laundry cleaning aids. Off-brand products will clean your clothes just fine, as will most bleach solutions — even if they’re not products whose names you recognize.
Fabric softeners are other culprits adding to the cost of laundry. Fabric softeners can run $3 to $7 per container, depending on the brand you select and in which part of the country you live.
So try doing some loads of laundry without a softener and see if you really miss it. If you desperately need that fragrant scent, you can always go ahead and buy a low-cost product later.
In the meantime, you might just discover that your clothes are fresh and clean without the added boost of a fabric softener.