Opinions | The ethics of doing laundry in the dorms

Katie Reul, freshman television writing and production major

If you’re anything like me, doing laundry isn’t a simple one hour process. It’s a whole day affair.

I’ve spent several hours in the hallowed halls of the Henley basement amongst the orphaned, dust-covered socks while engaging in this painful laundry process, becoming too familiar with the tumultuous rumble of machinery.

I didn’t ask to be this way. In fact, I’m both envious and terrified to my core when I see my friends numbly toss their whites, delicates and darks into one load with casual negligence.

I can’t sacrifice the color of my clothes like this and when you have so many to wash, it’s agony to wait for machines to open up. With only 11 washers and 11 dryers in the entire Henley basement, two of which are almost always down for maintenance, students are forced to anxiously lie in wait for someone’s cycle to end. What’s worse than the wait is when the timer ends, but the student is nowhere to be found. It’s time we had an important discussion about laundry ethics.

What do you do if a machine opens up, but the clothes’ owner is not there?

On my first venture to the laundry room, my initial reaction to this question was to wait for a couple of minutes. When the owner still had not shown, I tossed the clothes on the ground, threw my own in and fled the crime scene.
Please, don’t do that. After a plethora of awkward experiences, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

First, give it some time. Give the owner the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are swamped with a 15-page essay. Maybe they’re a philosophy major and they’re busy questioning time as a social construct. Regardless, I’d say about 10 minutes is an adequate amount of time to wait for a student to take a break from their work and walk back to the laundry room.

Second, assess whether the machine is a washer or dryer. If it’s a washer and the time is up, you can throw the clothes into an available dryer and leave the door open to signify that it’s ready to go. If the machine is a dryer, you can move the dry clothes to one of the available tables.

These options are significantly less vomit–worthy than contaminating someone’s freshly cleaned clothes with the revolting floors of the Henley basement, which possibly haven’t been touched since they were constructed in 2001.

The biggest solution to this perpetual issue that has haunted laundry rooms of decades past is simple. Don’t be irresponsible. It’s easy to set a timer to alert yourself of the end of the laundry cycle. This simple action would open up space for other students and would help you avoid getting your clothes touched and moved around. There isn’t any legitimate excuse to leave your clothes sitting in the machines for an extended period of time. But if all these suggestions fail you, best believe that after that 10 minute grace period, I will not hesitate to retaliate: in a considerate fashion.