Dorm Life at Brown: Dirty Laundry


Hello prospective students, confused current students, and lost surfers of the web. Welcome to He, She, and Phe: Dorm Life at Brown, where I address your questions about the most ubiquitous aspect of college living. My name is Justin Ferenzi, and I’m here to help shine some light on the rollercoaster ride that is dorm life.

The stereotype of the dorm room covered in a layer of dirty laundry has become so prevalent that it’s easy to dismiss as an exaggeration.

It is not.

In this post I’ll explain Brown’s laundry situation, and then give some quick tips for keeping the dirties pile from getting too out of control.

Every dorm has at least one laundry area containing washers and dryers ranging from 1-8 sets, depending on where you are. The machines aren’t managed by Brown, but by an outside company called MacGray. It costs $1.50 per use (so $3.00 total for a wash and a dry), and you have to use BearBucks via your ID card. Yeah, laundry can be a pricey commodity. MacGray also doesn’t do the best job of maintaining them, too, so about 1/4 of the machines are out of order at any given time. However, no one I know has ever had a laundry crisis, and it’s more of an mild annoyance than anything else.

One other option available to students is a laundry service run by another outside company called E&R. It tends to be a 2-5 day turnaround, depending on when you drop off your clothes.There are two plans to choose from, a basic one that runs for $670 and a more inclusive one that includes dry cleaning for $999. Again, a pricey option. I’d recommend doing the math to find whether the service would work better given your own laundering habits.

When it comes to actually doing your laundry, here’s what I’d recommend:

  • Set aside a specific time every week to do your laundry. Sundays seem like the obvious choice, but that also means that everyone is doing their laundry then, too. My schedule happens to have an opening on Wednesday afternoons. I do my homework, run down to the laundry room occasionally, and get everything done in 2 or 3 hours. If you can find a time like that in your own schedule, you’ll be set.
  • TIDE PODS. Or a similar alternative. Those little choking hazards are the best thing to happen to lazy college students since Lecture Capture.
  • Keep the products you use as simple as possible. There’s one girl I always see when I do laundry who measures out all these different chemicals into her load, and while this may yield some luxurious linens, it really just seems to cumbersome to bother with in a college setting.
  • Never ever ever use up multiple washers/dryers at the same time. It’s just rude.
  • Hypothetically, if one were in to saving money, one could make use of a little trick that lets you use the dryers for free. I am not advocating for this and do not want to anger the fine folks at MacGray’s legal department, but if that tickles your fancy, just ask around.

It’s not too hard to stay on top of your laundry at Brown. Just make sure to manage your time well, and use common sense, and separate your whites from your colors. Happy laundering!

When Justin Ferenzi isn’t blogging, he’s obsessively refreshing his email account for blogging-related correspondence. For any and all questions about dorm life at Brown, please don’t hesitate to send a message to


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