In college, I lugged my laundry up and down three flights of stairs weekly, running the risk every time of having to interact with a certain dormmate over sweaty gym shorts and mismatched socks. Sometimes my laundry and I would hide in the bathroom until said dormmate went back upstairs. (Stay tuned for a future post on social anxiety.) Needless to say, I was thrilled by the post-grad idea of having laundry hookups in my apartment, and incredibly disappointed (and anxious) when the apartment I chose to rent did not have that feature. Three weeks into my stay at my new place, my overflowing laundry basket forced me to brave the unknown territory of the public Laundromat. And so that none of you have to feel alone in your Laundro-anxiety, here’s what I’ve learned.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Public Laundromats
DON’T wait three weeks to do laundry, especially if you work out a lot and/or need specific clothes for work. While it might fly on a regular day, pulling previously worn clothes out of your laundry basket because you’ve run out of work clothes will leave you smelling like a stale weight room in the office. We are adults with adult jobs and adult apartments; it’s time to smell like an adult too.
DO read the instructions posted on the machines. I am a proud ignorer of directions, and my first time at a Laundromat, I poured the detergent into the wrong dispenser. Save yourself the embarrassment and read the instructions.
DON’T overload the machines. I’ll tell you from experience that your clothes will not emerge clean or dry if you overload. Familiarize yourself with the machines at your Laundromat. Oftentimes they will offer 20-lb, 45-lb, and 60-lb load washing machines.
DO bring your own detergent and dryer sheets. Only the machines are for public use.
DON’T use extra detergent if you have an extra dirty load. The extra detergent will not rinse off and will make your clothes stiff. (Trust me. I’ve made this mistake.)
DO make sure no one left their underwear in the machine you’re about to use. No one needs the added stress of trying to explain a pair of foreign underwear to your boyfriend/girlfriend.
DO start collecting quarters. Most Laundromats only accept payments in quarters. I have yet to encounter a Laundromat that accepts credit cards, although according to Google they do exist.
DON’T immediately panic when your quarters get stuck in the coin slot. These machines are old, this will probably happen. Wiggle it around a little first. Ask for help next. Then you can panic and demand your lost quarters back. (Quarters are like gold now, seriously.)
DO factor laundry into your monthly budget. Compared to college laundry ($1.25 per load) or home laundry (free—thanks Mom), public Laundromats are a bit more expensive. Using a Laundromat certainly won’t make you broke, but if you’re essentially living paycheck to paycheck already, you don’t want to be caught by surprise when you run out of quarters.
DO be friendly to the people who are doing laundry next to you, even if they smell bad. (That’s why they’re doing laundry, so come on, give ‘em some slack.) Chances are you’ll run into them again next week. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a friend.