Yesterday, I made what I hope will be my last trip to the coin-op laundromat. It’s been a while since I’ve used a laundromat, but in this recent spate of renovation, my surly old washer and dryer were the first to go. I don’t miss either of them per se – no matter what settings I used on either, the washer worked in its heavy-duty mode and the dryer was as hot as Hades. This was great for my felting projects, but pretty tough on clothes. (Mr. Math is now in the habit of buying T-shirts and undies two sizes too big.) The washer had also lost its fabric softener dispenser somewhere along the way, and I’m not good at remembering when to go and pour it in. We often have had crunchy towels. So, it’s no surprise that the previous owner left these two ferocious beasts behind. I did mourn the beautiful pair we sold to the people who bought our old house, but since the reno of this room was in the planning, it made sense to wait – crunchy towels and all.

Later this week, the new washer and dryer are scheduled for delivery. I will undoubtedly be the most excited person choosing fabric softener in the grocery store this week. And I’ll spend the weekend gleefully washing, folding and patting my new toys. Life is full of simple joys, isn’t it?

But for the past few weeks, I’ve been going to the laundromat. There are good things about the laundromat – in fact, the only thing I really dislike is schlepping everything in and out, trying to hold the door. The weather’s been nasty the past few weeks, just to add to the challenge. (Why don’t laundromats have automatic doors, like hotels?) It also is impressive how many quarters the exercise can require. You have to think that it would be cost-effective for a lot of people to buy machines at that rate. One thing I do like is being able to use multiple machines and get everything done in just over an hour.

And I do like watching the people there. The first week I went, there was an older man who looked quite grumpy (maybe because he got stuck going to the laundromat). To my surprise, the load in the dryer of mixed shades of pink was his. He carefully paired and folded many, many pretty socks, sized for at least two little girls, then undies and frilly shirts and leggings. He was so fastidious that you could see how he adored those little ones.

Each week, there’s been at least one scruffy-looking guy come in (probably because he’s wearing his last clean clothes) with his laundry in a garbage bag. These guys invariably use the top-loaders and start the cycle first to dissolve the detergent before they put in their clothes. Sometimes they arrive in pairs and one lectures the other on laundry procedure. They’re very careful with the fabric softener and dryer sheets, measuring and counting. They usually go to get something to eat – there’s a Seven-Eleven or similar just a block away – and return on the dot of the cycle’s completion. They have a system. When the clothes are dry, they fold with military precision, stacking and organizing. I love watching these guys, although I need to do it surreptitiously.

Do you go to the laundromat? What do you like or dislike about it? How’s the people-watching at your local coin-op?

4 thoughts on “Laundromats

  1. Oh what a great post Deb. I use the laundromat on occasion usually if I have a huge comforter or area rugs etc that need washing.
    When my daughter moved into her apartment she was floored how expensive it was to use the laundromat so I offered to do her laundry for her and she just supplied the detergent/softener etc.

    I love the old man story, how sweet.
    thanks for sharing


  2. I haven’t used a laundromat in a bazillion years, but the DH got stuck doing it while we were in-between houses (don’t ask how he got stuck–it’s probably because I really *am* the Queen). I’ve never used fabric softener or those dryer sheets. What am I missing? (Or what are my fabrics not getting covered with?)


  3. It’s been many years since I have used a Laundromat. The last time was when I washed my daughter’s big quilt. I really don’t like them because I wonder how dirty the clothes were of the person who used the washer just before


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