How Does a Laundromat Work?

by Christopher Raines; Updated September 26, 2017
Asian woman in laundromat

According to the Coin Laundry Association, coin-operated laundromats have existed for nearly seven decades. These establishments provide what the association calls a necessary service for customers -- especially renters, many of whom do not own their own washers and dryers. Customers' schedules, the environmental impact of a laundromat on the community, children's needs and technology shape a laundromat is run and the mix of services offered.

Not Solely Self-Serve

Generally, full-service laundries include drop-off and pick-up, stain removal, ironing, folding, fireproofing and starching in their menu of services. Largely self-service laundromats sprinkle some of the offerings of full-service laundries to accommodate customers who may lack the time or patience needed to wash, dry and fold all their laundry items. "Entrepreneur Magazine" reported in 2008 that over 50 percent of coin-operated laundromats provide wash-and-fold service.

Coins or Plastic

Many laundromats consist of coin-operated machines, but some also accept payment by debit card and credit card. According to HK Laundry Equipment, owners of card-operated (or at least partially card-operated) laundromats can reduce or avoid the labor involved in collecting and handling quarters and problems of change machines not taking bills or not making change. Customers may prefer the convenience of not needing to hunt for change or change makers to use the laundry machines. If you opt for accepting card payments, however, card fees might eat into your earnings.

Dine, Relax and Clean

Because some laundromat customers take children and wireless devices along when they do laundry, newer laundromats feature more than machines and clothes-folding tables. Supersuds in Long Beach, California, and Washouse in Fort Collins, Colorado, have children's play areas and offer free Wi-Fi. Internet access can help customers complete work or school assignments, play games, or interact on social media while they clean clothes. High-definition televisions at laundromats allow customers to follow sports, news and favorite shows while their clothes tumble in washers and dryers. Other laundromat trends include coffee, snacks and even in-store music events.

Efficient and Green Machines

Because of regulations and environmental awareness, front-end loading machines have become prevalent in laundromats. EnergyStar.gov says that ENERGYSTAR rated washers can handle 20-pound loads, while their top-loading counterparts can wash only 10 to 15 pounds at a time. The Arizona Department of Water Resources reports that front-end loading washers, also known as horizontal-axis washers, consume less water and energy than top-loading washers. Faster spinning also removes more water and reduces dryer times.

About the Author

Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.

Photo Credits

  • Caroline Schiff/Blend Images/Getty Images