There are a few guarantees when it comes to being a college student: sleepless nights, exams and laundry.
Though there aren’t always simple solutions for getting more sleep or not stressing over that next test, there are a few systems on campus that might help when it comes to having a cleaner wardrobe.
Based on a person’s location and willingness to fork over some cash, a student can obtain multiple services, from buying detergent to having laundry hand-folded for them.
On the list of nearby options are university-provided machines, Chute, The Lazy Lion, Tide University Laundry and Balfurd Dry Cleaners.
As a freshman, Dan Risser heard about laundry services like Tide University during New Student Orientation (NSO), but chose to do his own laundry using the university-provided washer and dryer units in his West Halls dorm.
He made this choice for several reasons: price, turnaround and responsibility.
“It’s important that it’s instant, too,” Risser (freshman-political science) said. “I don’t want to wait a whole day or two days even just to have my laundry cleaned for me.”
Most of the services in the area feature 48-hour turnaround service.
While part of the advertising for almost every laundry delivery service is the convenience, Risser doesn’t feel that he’s inconvenienced by doing his own laundry at all.
“Doing laundry doesn’t take up a ton of time to begin with and allots time for me to study or just relax in my room,” he said.
Risser also said doing laundry might take 30 minutes out of his evening, but he said he probably would have been watching YouTube videos anyway.
Further, he said he’s been doing his own laundry for years now, and his parents would never pay for a laundry service for him — they’d consider it “babying” him.
“Transitioning to college goes hand and hand with transitioning to adulthood,” he said, “and doing your laundry is an important aspect of caring for yourself and your things.”
He said he might understand parents buying services for their kids if they want to look out for their kid’s cleanliness for the sake of their roommates, but Risser can’t personally relate.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty of each service.
Dorm laundry machines
The cheapest option on this list, doing laundry in the dorms will save you cash, but might require more time on your part.
For example, a freshman in East Halls who washes and dries one load of laundry a week, (presuming there are 16 weeks in the fall semester) will spend on average $36 a semester simply to use the machines. With the addition of one box of 240 Bounce dryer sheets and one 81-pack of Tide Pods ($19.99 for the pods, $9.99 for the dryer sheets), the estimated total is $101.98 per year to fully clean their laundry.
In more detail, the most common cost to wash one load is $1.75, while drying ranges from free to $0.50. But costs vary by form.
For instance, in other dorms, such as Eastview Terrace, use of the machines is free, leaving students with just the responsibility of buying detergent, dryer sheets and other needed materials.
Also, unlike the other options, university machines only accept LionCash+.
The main downside to this option is more time-dedication on the part of the student. It’s true that one could leave their laundry unattended as the cycle continues, but one could also lose some clothes in the process.
Chute offers a variety of different plans, including the option to pay as you go.
Reid Moncada, a Penn State senior who is the founder and CEO of Chute, said that Chute’s goal is to transition from just a laundry service to a closet manager. In addition to doing laundry, Chute aims to help its customers style outfits, find clothes they like and provide discounts on these products.
“When we started making this transition, we realized there’s so many other laundry services,” Moncada (senior-entrepreneurship) said, “and you know, it’s a race to the bottom in terms of the only thing differentiating us is price, and that’s where we are right now, but no other laundry service is bridging the gap between laundry and fashion.”
When students sign up for the service, they can also opt in to receive emails about “ridiculous” deals on brands they’re interested in. Moncada said Chute has had conversations with brands Bonobos, Uuqilo and Levi’s.
“What you wear,” Moncada said, “it’s so much more than laundry. You know, what you wear reflects who you are— your favorite brands, you’re at Penn State, ‘this is how much I go to the gym.’ It’s very personal and we can be using this to provide even more value to our customers.”
What sets Chute apart from competitors, Moncada said, is the quality of the laundry service as well as their customer service.
“The culture of the company is just being very empathetic,” he said. “We need to connect to our customers, we need to know who they are, what they expect out of us and we have to go that extra mile because that’s hospitality at its core.”
Freshman Lindsay Schoeffler has used Chute since last summer, when her parents encouraged her to try a laundry service because they didn’t want her to have to worry about doing large amounts of laundry on her own.
“I did it sometimes at home, but not really, like, a lot,” Schoeffler (freshman-DUS) said. “Usually my mom would do the laundry. She just thought it would be a little easier so I could just drop off my laundry whenever it was dirty and then they would just pick it up and it would be clean and I wouldn’t have to worry about it as much.”
Her experience with Chute has been positive, she said, especially concerning the convenience of the service.
Customers can schedule pickups on Chute’s app or website, and will receive a laundry bag that holds 12 pounds to transport their clothing in. The company washes, dries and folds clothes with a 48-hour turnaround period. For every additional pound, customers are charged $1.50.
“They’re really flexible,” Schoeffler said. “They work around, like, if I have a conflict with any classes or I’m seeing a teacher.”
Schoeffler said that if she ever had a conflict with the timing of her laundry pick ups or drop offs, she would just send a text and ask to reschedule. She said Chute has been very “easy going” with these adjustments.
She chose Chute over other services, partly because she was not a fan of the locker idea that some companies use — she didn’t want to have to go all the way to a locker to drop her things off, or worry about not getting her clothes there in time.
“I kind of liked how Chute comes at a certain time, and they text you like, ‘hey, I’m on the way to pick up your laundry,’ and then I just go out front and meet them and drop it off.”
Schoeffler said that the service has “definitely” saved her time now that she doesn’t have to worry about doing her own laundry.
“I know a lot of my friends who are actually doing their laundry,” she said. “It takes a while out of their day. My roommate the other day spent a while doing her laundry, having to wait, get it all sorted and even finding a washer and dryer that was open.”
The Lazy Lion
Founded in 2006 with a current team of about seven people, according to manager John Eiesinger, this service picks up, cleans and drops off one’s clothes.
“[The Lazy Lion is] a student’s laundry service,” Eiesinger said. “We pick up student’s laundry, take it back, wash it, dry it, fold it, and return it to them.”
Available at University Park and Penn State Altoona, pick-ups for residents of State College are on Mondays by appointment from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Free laundry bags are delivered to students ahead of their semester, and according to the website, can be left in a “secure, accessible location.”
Bags will be returned between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the following Wednesday.
Eiesinger said that the 15-pound plan is most popular with students. The website states that 15 pounds of laundry includes: eight t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, two towels, eight pairs of socks, 10 pairs of underwear, two sweatshirts and one sweater.
The Lazy Lion website says that the service is not responsible for missing or damaged items, color bleeds or shrunken clothing.
The point of the service, Eiesinger said, is to give students more free time.
“We allow students to have the flexibility to do things… instead of doing their laundry,” he said.
According to the Lazy Lion website, “Our mission is to make your life easier and to enhance your college experience.”
They accept all credit cards, and while they don’t currently accept LionCash+, Eiesinger said that it is a future possibility.
The service is one of the cheaper delivery services, with plans starting at $229. For every pound of laundry that students go over their plan, they pay an additional $1. Unlike other services, The Lazy Lion does not iron clothes before returning them or offer dry cleaning services.
“I’m not sure that we’re all that different from any of the other ones,” Eiesinger said. “I know the new ones are more of a locker-based type system, while we pick up from the individuals.”
Eiesinger said that he has noticed more competition in the past year or two, but the Lazy Lion remains focused on just trying to do its best and “provide a good service for people.”
If students wish to cancel their plan, they would have to pay a cancellation fee, but would be refunded the amount of money that they didn’t use in their plan.
Tide University Laundry
Tide University Laundry partners with a variety of schools across the nation, but this is the first year that the service has partnered with Penn State University Park.
Marketing director Drew Carini said that the Dallas, Texas-based company has been looking to sponsor with Penn State for some time now, and is “super excited” to finally do so.
“The team that we got to work with, the [administration] at the university have just been unbelievable,” Carini said. “They believe in what we do.”
What they do exactly, Carini said, is promote the goal of “life not laundry.” Tide University Laundry does this by offering a laundry delivery program for students, faculty and staff. Carini said that they save students around 80 hours by doing their laundry.
Tide University hopes that students will use that time for other things, like meeting with professors, learning new skills, making friends or networking.
“What we really believe in is, hey, do great things with your time,” Carini said. “Yes, there’s washers and dryers on campus, and at some point, you know, people need to know how to do their laundry, but what we want people to understand is that we exist to put more time back into students' schedules.”
The laundry service is app-based and offers multiple weighted plans for weekly pick-ups.
“We always recommend the 20-pound plan because on average, incoming students typically wash or professionally clean about 15 to 16 pounds of laundry each week,” Carnini said.
Students can move to a higher or lower plan if needed, but Tide University finds that 20 pounds “does the trick” for most people.
To schedule a pickup, students can download the My Laundry app and utilize the lockers that are located in the commons areas on campus.
Tide will give students their own laundry bag with a unique barcode that they will drop off and pick up at those lockers. Students can schedule pick-ups for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and receive their clean laundry two days later. If students happen to miss or skip, they can give twice the amount of clothes the next week.
“We’re a company that’s not just about turning a profit,” Carini said, “but also making the college experience amazing.”
What sets Tide apart from competitors, Carini said, is that they’re the official laundry service of the university.
“They want us there,” he said. “They believe in our product and they believe in ‘life not laundry.’”
Carini added that Tide’s name is enough to be trusted with students’ laundry. “Tide is the brand in cleaning,” he said. “If it’s Tide clean, you know that it’s clean. It’s the most recognizable brand in cleaning. That’s who we are. We are Tide.”
Tide University offers both laundry and dry cleaning services and will reimburse students for lost or damaged items. They do not offer hand washing options.
Students can sign up for Tide University either through the app, online or over the phone and can pay with all credit cards.
Balfurd Dry Cleaners
With two locations off North and South Atherton, Balfurd Dry Cleaners distinguishes itself as a “green” cleaner.
According to Vice President Monika Manter, the company uses biodegradable and unscented detergents, which ensures no one will have a negative reaction to the scent of their clothing post-cleaning.
“Our use of biodegradable detergent is extremely important, despite being more expensive for us to purchase,” Manter said. “We are an environmentally-responsible cleaner and use eco-friendly products in all areas of our facility. Biodegradable detergents don’t have an environmental impact.”
Manter said that Balfurd differs from other local delivery services in a few ways. One reason, she said, is that Balfurd Dry Cleaning is not a third party agent.
“Unlike the other laundry and dry cleaning services in State College,” Manter said. “We do everything locally in our facility on North Atherton Street. At least two of the [other] three laundry services are sending laundry and dry cleaning 45 or more minutes away to neighboring towns. We’ve found that our clients don’t want their items leaving town.”
In addition to keeping customers’ clothes local, Manter said that one customer’s clothes will never be washed with another’s.
“At least one of these other laundry services puts multiple orders in one washer at a time,” Manter said. “That means, if someone else left a pen or gum in their pocket, it will get all over your clothing.”
Above all, Manter said that Balfurd Dry Cleaner is a “local, transparent business.”
“We are family-owned and operated and are constantly showing the behind the scenes look on our social media pages,” Manter said. “We are actually doing the laundry so we’re able to show you every step in the process.”
Unlike the other laundry delivery services, Balfurd Dry Cleaners does not offer semester or annual rates. Instead, they charge $1.96 per pound of laundry.
Manter said there’s a reason for this pricing.
“We think it’s a much fairer way to price laundry services,” she said. “When you buy a semester or annual plan, the laundry service knows that you won’t send in every week, think Thanksgiving and last week of the semester, and they make money regardless of whether you send in or not.”
Manter also said that, unlike other services, there is no concern about being stuck in a plan that you don’t like.
Balfurd does not currently deliver to dorm buildings, but does service houses, fraternities and certain apartments. Customers can also drop off their clothing at one of the two locations.
Students can sign up for cleanings either online or fill out a physical form. Balfurd takes three business days to clean clients’ clothing.
Manter said that Balfurd will keep a credit card on file for “easy billing” and that customers can download the app to change billing preferences or make “special requests.”
“If you’re in a pinch, we offer same day service — clothing in by 10 a.m. and back by 5 p.m. — if you drop off at one of our stores,” Manter said. “We will text and email you when your order is ready for pickup.”
Balfurd will also remove stains or fix buttons upon request, but additional charges apply.
Interested students can see Balfurd’s process on their instagram, @Balfurd_DryCleaner and Facebook, Balfurd Dry Cleaner.
There are options for every student, varying in prices, service and other specifics. For students that want the fastest turnaround with the lowest price, washing and folding their own laundry with university washers and dryers is the most viable option. For students who might need specific repairs but are afraid of commitment, Balfurd Dry Cleaning can be of service. For students who are interested in more than just laundry, Chute can help find new styles and discounts. For students who want a service backed by Penn State, Tide University will ensure clothes are “Tide clean.”
Students might not have much say in those aforementioned long nights and assignments, but there’s definitely a choice when it comes to laundry.
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