In our apartment building there are 15 units with roughly 40 people in them. On the main floor there are 2 washers and 1 dryer for everyone to share. Needless to say, laundry is always running around our place (even at 6am, which we have found to be the best time to do ours!) and because of it, there are a few tricks and tips we have picked up to insure our laundry turns out clean and timely.
We always, always use vinegar in our wash loads. Before heading downstairs to run a load of laundry we always fill our Downy Ball with a bit of vinegar. With so many people using the same machines day in and day out, you never know what your clothes are going to come out smelling like. The vinegar helps eliminate not only issues with our own clothes, but to rid the tub of any past cycle's smells. No one wants to smell like someone else's choice of morning-fresh-rain-shower-baby-lambs-in-a-meadow, especially when you pay for each load of laundry that is run. But then again, we enjoy the simple smell of clean laundry as opposed to whatever scent happens to be trendy at the moment.
Machines that are always in use get dirty. When you live in a building where there isn't an onsite maintenance or janitorial crew, there are communal things that people have to chip in and help out with. Each time we go down to run a load of laundry, we always take a towel that has been wet with a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar.
While our load is filling, we take a few extra seconds to wipe down any surface that has some obvious grime on it. We live in an old turn of the century building and it can be a little dusty; in combination with tenants who don't always get all their soap in the machine, the two can make for a sticky mess. So rather than worrying that we are trying to clean our clothes in something that is dirty, we simply wipe things up and toss it in the load first before the rest of our clothes go in.
Start a timer or leave a note. We always make note of the time each load starts so we can retrieve it shortly after it's completion. Knowing that the laundry facilities will always be in use means we must be prompt, but we have lived in buildings where tenants weren't so keen on the idea. We have also been known to leave notes, either in the bottom of our laundry baskets (that are left on the washer while our load is in) or stuck with a magnet to the washer itself. They usually have our first name and phone number on it so someone can call in case we space out or something happens that we forget all together.
Always leave a basket. Just in case someone is having a bad day and can't wait to run their load of laundry (even if you are on the stairs on your way back down to get it!), it's nice to have a basket so your clothes don't end up on the washer, closest chair or even floor. Plus, it's always a good sign that you are in fact coming back.
If you don't have facilities on site and have to take your laundry to the laundromat, many of the same suggestions above do apply. A few that we might add are below:
Check the rubber seal in the dryers where anything left in pockets builds up.
Always pack a few extra pillow cases. They don't take up any space in your wash load, but just in case your towels dry fluffier than expected, it's nice to have another bag of sorts to get things home in without balancing your laundry like a leaning tower off the top of your basket.
Check to see if the last load run contained bleach. Although it's not exactly an attractive manuever, it only takes a few seconds to determine if the last load run in the machine you will be using contained bleach. Simply smell the "bleach dispenser or cup." Checking can save a load of dark clothes from certain death!
Do you have another tried and true top to sharing a communal laundry space? Someone you found makes life a little easier? Let us know in the comments below!
Need some advice on laundry etiquette? Check out a great post full of reader info over at AT:LA.