Laundry: How to Change Your Life for $15

towels.jpg
I didn’t wash these. And it rules.

I have a secret. It’s a good one. It’s cheaper than you would think and it will change your life.

I don’t do my own laundry. I pay someone else to.

It has changed my life.

A few months ago, my washing machine broke. It worked, but sometimes wouldn’t spin. We have a pretty small stackable washer/dryer unit that gets a lot of use. We washed Roozle’s cloth diapers for 2.5 years. I wear a lot of hooded sweatshirts. Our laundry was always going. And piling. And switching. And then there’s the folding. For some reason, in my house, we are really good at getting the washer loaded. We even are pretty good at switching it to the dryer most days, but after that, we fail. Those piles of unfolded, yet clean, laundry haunted me.

But that’s not the worst part. You know what the worst is: Falling Behind. Because, once you fall behind, even by one load, you’re totally screwed. You will never catch up. It’s the end. You should just move.

My coworker has been sending her clothes out to be washed for years. She told me about it, but I never quite got it. Until the washer broke. We were just coming back from vacation and didn’t have either the money or time to deal with getting it fixed, so we gathered up all our laundry, 35 pounds of it, and brought it to the laundromat on the way to Roozle’s school. And we dropped it off.

For $35, they washed, dried, and folded three weeks worth of laundry.

It was amazing. But expensive. Way too expensive to do all the time. But it felt so good. I was determined to find a way to make it work. Because dropping off the big bag of laundry that day meant something magical. We were caught up. And that? That’s a really big deal.

I have since found a way to make it work and we outsource most of our laundry.

A few considerations:

  • Do you have small children?
    • Small children have small clothes.
    • They are very dirty clothes.
    • They are very hard to fold. And get lost a lot.
    • They don’t weigh very much.
  • Do you dryclean a lot of your clothes already?
    • If you dryclean some or a lot of your clothes, are you already paying to wash your heaviest items or most frequently worn items?
    • Underwear, socks, and tshirts don’t weigh very much.
    • Sometimes the drycleaning happens in the same place as the pay-per-pound cleaning
  • Do you have a scale?
    • We use our scale that we don’t weigh ourselves on to weigh our laundry bag.
    • Towels are heavy. Sheets and blankets are heavy. Weigh them.
    • You can weigh your laundry to get an idea of how much it will be then take the stuff out of the bag that you don’t mind folding and wash that at home. For us, we wash towels, bathing suits, sheets, bath mats, and sweatshirts at home. They’re heavy and easy.

Once you aren’t behind and drowning in piles of unfolded laundry, everything in your life is better. Okay, maybe not everything, but mostly everything. For us, we’re now spending about $15 per week on laundry and only doing two heavy loads at home, when we feel like it. We drop it off on the way to Roozle’s pre-school and pick it up on the way home. It’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened.

For us, this works on a regular basis. Maybe it would for you too. Or it can be a back up when you are overwhelmed. Or if someone offers you a salon gift card for a birthday, ask for a laundromat card instead. Often, for less than $20, you can get your house back. Try it out. Life rules.

11 replies on “Laundry: How to Change Your Life for $15”

  1. I do this too! I take it a step farther, though–I have it picked up and delivered! I live in an apartment and have to either use the frequently broken overpriced machine in the basement (oh so much fun with a child in tow) or haul everything to the laundromat–again, oh so much fun with a child in tow. But then I noticed the guy upstairs, a doctor (based on viewing his clean laundry in the clear bag) was sending his laundry out and I joined the bandwagon. It’s picked up and delivered and oh it makes my life so happy. Not counting the reduced price of cleaning materials and, of course, my time, it ends up being only 20 dollars a month more than my other options. Well worth it. I’ve just done it for a short time, though, and I’m sure in the winter, once jeans and turtlenecks are in our life, it will be a not every week thing. But still…oh the joy of someone else doing laundry (and they are much better than I am at getting stains out!)

  2. Oh if only I lived in a real city where this was more of an option. Alas, I don’t even know where the dry cleaners is here. Laundry really is the worst…it’s right up there with the dishwasher.

  3. Once upon a time, when we lived in Park Slope, we outsourced all of our laundry. No machines in our building, and I worked way too many hours per week to spend any of my weekend hours at the Laundromat. It was indeed good! But now we live elsewhere, and though we don’t have machines in this building, either, we do (er, my husband does) our laundry ourselves (himself). I’ve seen the nasty nastiness that the local Laundromat uses to wash the clothing that is dropped off there, and I don’t want that stuff in my clothing. Alas.

  4. Yep, totally. I realized that I was occasionally paying a babysitter to come watch Kate so that I could race upstairs and play laundry catch-up. How messed up is that? Having a laundry safety-valve is particularly important after vacations and/or illnesses. As you said, once you get behind, digging out becomes impossible. Now I drop off after leaving Kate at CB and pick up afterward–very similar to what I did when I lived in NYC, before Kate. Opening the already sorted, folded laundry ranks way up there in my book with getting a pedicure or a full-body massage. If you look at it that way, it’s pretty darn cheap!

  5. I miss the days of cheap wash and folds. In SF, I’d never do my laundry. It was almost a wash (pun intended) when I sent it out versus doing it myself. Now it’s way too expensive to send out. C’est la vie.

  6. I didn’t realize until I posted this that lots of cities and towns don’t have this service. I can never move. It would be too awful.

  7. “But that’s not the worst part. You know what the worst is: Falling Behind. Because, once you fall behind, even by one load, you’re totally screwed. You will never catch up. It’s the end. You should just move.”

    HA! It’s sad how true this is! Before we moved to the ‘burbs we had a little wash/dry/fold place right down the street that was a total lifesaver. Now. Now we have a basement with a pile of winter clothes still waiting to be washed and stored away for the season. Maybe it’s time to move.

  8. The last time wifey and I had a roommate , she did this (we lived in Santa Clara). At the time I thought she was ridiculous–what, too good to do your own laundry? But now that we’ve lived in our own loft for nearly three years and have, for most of that time, never caught up with our laundry–and have in fact been living with an unmanageable pile of “clean” unfolded laundry on the the floor of our bathroom, I’m fairly close to doing this! We live in Oakland now and I’m sure I would have my pick of laundry by the pound places. Thanks for the reminder that this is an option.

  9. Sometimes I can keep up with it. And when I do, it’s great. But most of the time I can’t. Then it’s overwhelming and too much. So, we drop it off. And get it back the same day. And that’s great too.

  10. Fantastic idea. I was never good at doing laundry either, and I’ve happily accepted that I never will be either – this is a great idea.

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