For those of us in Barnard housing, it’s a sad fact that each load of laundry will cost us $2.50. And perhaps what makes this fact even sadder is that our neighbours across Broadway have access to free laundry facilities. So if you’re a budget-conscious Barnardigan (or any busy and/or lazy Columbian), college can turn into a contest of how long you can go without washing your clothes before somebody says something.
While the debate continues on how many wears are acceptable before it’s time to throw them back in the machine, there are several ways that you can keep your clothes fresh for longer.
Hang them out to dry
Perhaps the simplest solution is to open your window and hang your clothes right inside of it (either on the ledge or on your curtain rod). The fresh air will work to remove smoke, fumes, and day-old smells from your clothing. If you have any leafy plants in your room, place them close to your clothes—they’ll help to absorb toxins.
Spray with vodka and water
Crazy, we know, but it actually works. Buy a bottle of cheap odka (or any vodka, but why waste the good stuff?) and mix it with water in a spray bottle until the percentage is about 60-70% vodka. Then spray generously on your clothes. Not only will the vodka kill bacteria in your clothing, but it will also remove smells and dry without any smelly residue. (It’s never good to give off the aroma of a person who just stumbled out of 1020 at 3 a.m.)
Wash clothes while showering
This is the method that many backpackers swear by—washing your clothes in the shower is actually surprisingly effective. Either hop in your shower fully clothed or bring clothes into the shower with you and use bar soap or other clothing- and body-friendly soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) to clean your clothes as well. Hang them somewhere in your room—on a drying rack, your window sill, your closet door—and watch the savings pile up.
Freeze your clothes
Depending on the material, popping your clothes in the freezer can be a good alternative to washing them. For denim, bacteria cause most of the in-fabric smells. Let your jeans hang out in your freezer for a couple hours to kill those bacteria, keep your jeans from fading, and keep them smelling fresh. This method will also prevent your shirts and shoes from getting too smelly—leave them in the freezer for a few hours and they’ll come out smelling fresh.
Placing your sweaters in a sealed plastic bag and then throwing them into the freezer for an hour or two will keep them from shedding and pilling, which will both extend the amount of time between washings and extend their lifetime.
Also, if you’re finding that moths are feasting on your sweaters, pop the sweaters into the freezer for 24 hours and then into the wash, and they’ll be saved.
Wear a fitted tee under your top
Not only will this layering help you to keep warm in these last few weeks of winter cold, but it will also work to absorb your sweat and skin cells, saving your nicer tops and sweaters from having to be cleaned more often.
Use coffee grounds
Pour some fresh coffee grounds into an open container, then place them in the same musty closet/drawer as your sweaters, tees, etc. By the next day the coffee grounds should have worked their odour-absorbing wizardry.
When you do wash your clothes, do it right
Not overloading the washer, and paying attention to individual garments’ care instructions (hot vs. cold water, etc.) are all essential in actually getting and keeping your clothes clean.
Though $2.50 per load might not sound like a lot, it does add up (especially when you try to be a successful adult by washing your clothes and your sheets). But now all your garments will smell fresh and clean—and you’ll also never have to forgo your morning Joe Coffee to pay for laundry.
Mariella Evangelista is a Spectrum staff writer and a Barnard first year. In the summer she would hang her laundry out to dry on the quad scaffolding outside her window. Don’t tell Barnard. Reach her at email@example.com.