Tips For Using a Laundromat

You Will Need:

  • Coins
  • Laundry supplies
  • Travel containers
  • A plastic bag
  • Disinfectant wipes

Steps to Use the Laundromat:

  1. Shop around. Find the location of several laundromats in a close vicinity and visit each one before choosing your preferred location. Take note of which types of machines are available – front load or top load washers, which settings are available on the various machines, how much the machines cost, general cleanliness, hours of operation, and what extra amenities the locations offer, such as a seating area or folding table. This way, you can not only make an educated choice on which place you prefer, but you can also know where to go when you need something specific, such as a top load washer for when you need to soak items to remove smells or treat stains.
  2. Check your change. Many laundromats now have a paper currency converter that will turn your dollars into cents, but it’s always better to bring your own change. Make sure to bring some extra coins as well; you never know when the change machine will be empty or if you’ll accidentally drop a coin.¹
  3. Gather your supplies. Rather than lugging an entire bottle of detergent or bleach to the laundromat, pour the amount needed into a travel container.¹
  4. Check the tags of all of your items before going to the laundromat. If any of your items can’t be dried in the dryer, bring a plastic bag hold those items separately while the rest of your wash dries.
  5. Sort your clothes before leaving the house. It may seem easy enough to toss them into separate washers when you get there, but you never know when you will be stuck using two washers at opposite ends of the shop.
  6. Look inside each washer and dryer before you use it. Remove any items remaining from the previous use, such as stray socks or forgotten pocket contents,¹ as well as the dryer lint from the lint trays.
  7. Wipe the inside of the washer tub with a disinfectant wipes before loading your clothes, or add a type of bleach (regular or colorsafe) to the load to kill any potential germs from other patrons.
  8. Don’t crowd the washer. Stuffing a washer to the brim may seem like it will save money, but this is an easy way to tear clothing, and it also can prevent your clothes from getting clean, instead requiring that you run the load repeatedly to remove stains or the yellow/grey film that can develop from an overloaded washer.
  9. Use extra detergent if needed. The washers at laundromats tend to be oversized, so you may want to add a little extra detergent. Don’t use a lot more or the soap residue won’t clean out of your clothes; just a little spoonful extra if the machine is oversized.
  10. Many laundromat dryers are time-based and always operate on the highest heat setting. If that is the case at your laundromat, it is best to remove any delicate items, pants that have rubber waistbands, knitted items, items made from synthetic fibers, or clothing that you want to last for a long time from the dryer load and instead let these items air dry.
  11. Dryers work more quickly if they are only a third full, so consider doubling up on machines to cut down on time.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Carrying a load of laundry can be straining. Consider toting the load in a backpack, which will evenly distribute the weight. Line the inside of the backpack with a trash bag if needed to keep the clothes clean on the trip home. If a backpack isn’t an option, consider using a rolling suitcase or even resting a tall hamper on a skateboard to make the trip easier.
  • Although many laundromats have extra-large washers and dryers, it is always best to test a large blanket in both machines to ensure it will fit before starting the wash.
  • An easy way to avoid the hassle of liquid detergent is to use laundry tablets instead. It’s a good idea to bring extra tablets for each trip though, just in case you estimated the washer size wrong or meet someone who needs extra detergent while you’re there.
  • If you need to do a pre-soak for some items and can’t find a laundromat with top-load washers, soak the items at home in a bucket or sink, then transport them to the laundromat in an empty bucket or plastic bag. Just be sure to do this quickly so that the items don’t accidentally dry out.
  • Keep track of when you visit and how busy the laundromat is each time to learn the ideal (least busy) time to go. A good bet is during work hours in the early or middle days of the week.