Leeds students do their laundry for free – why can’t we?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of InQuire Media

Sometimes in life, it is those everyday injustices that rattle us the most. Whether it is the queue jumper at the bus stop or the inconsiderate flatmate who leaves the kitchen a mess, reality can sometimes feel like an irritating succession of daily wrongs. And for students across the country, few injustices vex more than those wrought by Circuit Laundry, a company more interested in rinsing us of our money rather than dirt on our clothes.

Being a student is expensive. On top of the astronomical tuition fees, there are living costs and accommodation charges to pay for, with rent for halls at the University of Kent ranging from £4,650 to £7,800. When those of us living on campus are forced to pay £4 for a single load of clothing to be washed and dried, having already paid an extortionate amount for rent, it is hard not to feel short-changed. After all, a student who does 14 loads of washing in an academic year (or once a fortnight: a conservative estimate) will end up paying £60 for the privilege of not smelling offensive in lecture theatres and clubs.

That is not to mention the poor service that Circuit provides which only compounds the injustice of the steep charges. The machines will not accept any form of detergent except laundry pods, which are more expensive per load than liquid or powder. Neither are you permitted to use fabric conditioner, increasing the potential for clothes to be damaged in the cleaning process. You are forced to pay either through the app or with a special Circuit card, and both methods are overly laborious and seem designed to swindle you of even more money, demanding you pay in at least £5 to your fund despite a wash and dry costing £1 less than this.

But the infuriating thing is that it does not have to be this way. In September 2017, the University of Leeds became the first university in the country to remove laundry charges for those living in halls. Instead, students are administered with “laundry credits” worth 20 free washes each, surely more than enough to clean a years’ worth of sweat-doused socks. If Leeds can help reduce living costs in this way, then there is no reason Kent cannot remove this burden too.

We have been hung out to dry by the combined malevolent forces of money-grubbing student accommodation, and now by Circuit – a company so evil it would move Al Capone to appreciatively doff his Fedora from the fires of Hell. Maybe it is time for us to get up on our soapboxes and demand change because we should not be made to feel as though clean clothing is a luxury and not a basic need.