Dorm Checklist: Laundry Room Must-Haves


College washers and dryers can leave your clothes shredded. Using the right detergent can help protect your favorite outfits from unforgiving spin cycles.

Doing laundry in a college dorm is no easy feat. Machines that stretch, tear and poke holes in your favorite clothes inevitably occupy the laundry room. Luckily, using the right products can help save you from serious textile heartache. Using the latest Viewpoints laundry detergent reviews, we narrowed down the top detergents for stains, delicates and workout clothes. You’ll want to add these to your dorm checklist.

For stains


No need to be a laundry expert with this stain remover. The attached brush makes for easy application.

When dealing with rough washing machines, tossing dirty clothes in for an extra long cycle isn’t a solution. Instead of choosing a “heavy soil” setting and giving your clothes even more time to get tossed around, try using a stain remover before doing laundry. With an almost perfect score of 95/100 based on 15 reviews, Shout Advanced Ultra Concentrated Gel costs about $7 a bottle. Unlike stain removers that you have to spray, this product is easily applied in a mess-free gel form.

“My favorite part of Shout Advanced Gel is the scrubber on the top. Now, I can apply the product and use the scrubber on the bottle to rub the product into the stain.” - cjm2120, Reviewer since 2011

“I like shout advance because it is cheap and it really works. Grass stains easy, most foods easy but the one thing that I was really impressed with was the fact that it will remove grease stains. It has saved me a lot of heart ache over my favorite clothes.” - jdbsmom, Reviewer since 

For workout clothes


Tide Plus Febreze Freshness Sport’s powerful scent keeps clothes fresher longer for about $10 a bottle, but some reviewers found the scent overpowering.

For clothes designed to absorb sweat, you’ll want a detergent that packs a powerful punch. Tide plus Febreze Freshness Sport Liquid Laundry Detergent (94/100 based on 57 reviews) is designed to clean durable fabrics and remove stains caused by mud, blood and outdoor sports.

“My clothes stay fresher longer, causing less loads to wash.  That saves on time and energy, using less water and electricity to run the machine. Stains come out easier.  I RARELY need to use a pre-treater, saving me money on other products. Clothes come out of the dryer soft.  I don’t need to purchase dryer sheets anymore.” - disiders, Reviewer since 2008 

“We bought this to try and unstank some stinky clothes and towels that had sat around wet or unwashed for way too long. Washing them multiple times, even with bleach, could not conquer that funkiness. The Tide Sport actually worked and the clothes were unstunk.  Knowing how strong this stuff is, we now only add a drop or two of it to some laundry loads, in addition to our preferred “unscented” detergent.” - Oseph, Reviewer since 2011

For delicates


At about $14 per 50-ounce bottle, Woolite Complete isn’t cheap. However, you only need to use a small amount at a time when washing delicate clothing.

After four years of replacing summer dresses and winter sweaters, I finally wised up and started hand-washing my delicate clothes instead of feeding them to the dorm washing machine monsters. When it comes to washing clothes by hand, you want a mild detergent like Woolite Laundry Detergent (92/100 based on 30 reviews).

“There are clothes that just require a very mild detergent, and I don’t want to take a chance using my regular detergent on them. I have used Woolite Laundry Detergent to hand wash really delicate items. It’s very easy to rinse out by hand.” - ReviewsbyEm, Reviewer since 2011

“I use this detergent mainly to wash stuffed animals and bras. The water gets really sudsy just with a little. It doesn’t cause any shape loss for the bras either. It doesn’t irritate the skin or break out someone like me who has atopic dermatitis. This is a great delicates detergent.” - honeybee1234, Reviewer since 2009

For bed linens


A 32-ounce bottle of All Small & Mighty Free Clear Laundry Detergent costs about $12. At the recommended one ounce per load, it’s a great bargin.

Sleeping can seem like the only down time students get in college. For the most relaxing sleep possible, you’ll want to avoid harsh chemicals that can cause skin irritation overnight. All Small & Mighty Free Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent (94/100 based on 64 reviews) is gentle and irritant free.

“I have started using All Free and Clear on my delicates, towels, sheets, etc. (basically anything that comes in close contact with my skin). I believe that this detergent is as effective as regular, harsh detergents, but without the downsides. My laundry also feels softer after using this, and I feel more confident knowing that my laundry is not being eaten away by chemicals.” - Avidytueab, Reviewer since 2009

“ The ALL small and mighty is 3X the regular, so the container holding your 96 loads worth of laundry detergent is incredibly smaller than the regular bottle! This saves space, and it is not as heavy to carry and use!” - EvelynJ, Reviewer since 2010

Dorm Checklist: Smart shopping can save your clothes

There’s not much you can do about the quality of washing machines in college dorms. but using the right products means fewer spins in the washing machine so you can keep all your clothes clean (and in one piece) all semester long.

Amber Rambharose is a writing intern at Viewpoints. She just graduated from Hollins University with a B.A. in English Literature and will be continuing her studies this fall at the University of Cincinnati.

Amber Rambharose Amber Rambharose (50 Posts)

Amber Rambharose is a former writing intern at Viewpoints. She graduated from Hollins University with a B.A. in English Literature and is continuing her studies at the University of Cincinnati.

  • Penny Perrault Duff

    I have used the Shout spray for years. Since I have to use a laundromat, I spray them before leaving home–works wonderfully. Use Arm & Hammer powder with Oxy-Clean and cold water (except for whites) and get wonderful, excellent results. NOTE: Use 1/3 to 1/2 what the directions call for. Even work clothes get clean, and you don’t get those “pinholes” in your t-shirts! I have never had any success with a Tide product.

    • Amber Rambharose


      Thanks for the feedback! It’s always helpful to hear input from our readers.