Waste not, wash not

Cadence Ware demystifies the terrors of the laundry room

Cadence Ware

The Bosch-Wash-Maximus 6000Illustration by Niko Krisitc Background image by James Eades on Unsplash

Before uni, laundry was a simple matter of shove it in the machine when clothes supplies ran low. Not so at Cambridge. Between formals, clubbing, and our perfectly coordinated library outfits designed to attract potential partners (because let’s be honest, who has the time to meet people anywhere else) we go through a fair few clothes in a term. So, unless you go to Emma - in which case stop reading now and meditate on your privileged life - you are going to have to brave a laundry room at some point during your degree. If you have yet to do this, or if you are simply struggling to readjust to Cambridge after the holidays and the thought of a washing machine strikes terror into your heart, keep reading and allow me to gently dissipate your fears.

Firstly, choose your moment wisely. Bonus points for doing laundry drunk in a gown after formal; otherwise, I would recommend morning or late evening. Any other time, you are likely to be glared at by a queue of people when you inevitably forget to collect the washing until several hours after the cycle finishes. Or, perhaps worse, some scary person will actually remove your washing from the machine and leave it haphazardly scattered across the room, allowing the rest of your college to judge your socks while you blissfully procrastinate in your room.

“Choose your moment wisely”

Warning: en route to the laundry room, depending on the location of your college and accommodation, you may find yourself the object of attention by tourists eager to see what a real Cambridge student looks like in their natural habitat. Smile and wave for the cameras, strike a few arty poses, and then continue with your life safe in the knowledge that these tourists clear have no idea how to function in the Real World.

Before this stage, however, there are bags to pack. If your college laundry is ridiculously expensive, as many are, you may want to cram as many clothes as possible into one load. An admirable sentiment, but if you want your jumpers to fit you next time college turns the heating off too early in the year, at least separate things into ‘hot wash’ and ‘slightly less hot wash’. Equally, don’t put that bright orange jacket you picked up at a vintage sale in with the white t shirts. Just don’t, kids.

As you watch your hard-earned coins vanish into the monstrous machine, or, for those colleges who have entered the 21st century with heavy hearts, wait for the Circuit Laundry app do things comprehensible only to the most hardened mathmo, take a moment to congratulate yourself on your hard work so far before abandoning the laundry to its fate for a few hours. When you emerge from your essay induced stupor (“LAUNDRY. OH, YES. I NEED TO COLLECT MY LAUNDRY.”), your work is done. But is it? Now you are faced with a fateful choice. Spend more cash on the tumble driers, or bring the washing back to your room and add it to your aesthetic room décor for a few hours while the ancient walls of your college room slowly absorb the damp?

Regardless of the choice you make, one final tip remains. Make sure to pack your underwear at the bottom of the basket, unless you want to leave a trail all around college. You will inevitably fail to realise that the mysteriously lacy items being commented on by others on your staircase are, in fact, yours, until several days later. You heard it here first.