How do I make laundry/laundromat easier?
June 7, 2016 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I live 6 long blocks (steep downhill there, steep uphill back) from the laundromat. It's such a hassle for me to get clothes there that I frequently put off doing laundry for a very long time. What am I missing? The solutions I've tried (and haven't tried) inside.

File under: I feel silly spending a question on this.

The laundromat is actually great: there's a cafe, wireless, a patio, a parking lot, a coin machine that takes 20s, machines are always available, the whole shebang. I don't actually mind the *doing* of the laundry. I think my pain point is really the trip there, lugging things up or down a steep hill--and as I put off doing laundry more and more, the pile of things to carry gets bigger and bigger. It's probably obvious that I don't have a car, and I don't want to get one just for this purpose.

What I've tried:
--Putting my laundry in rolling suitcases and walking it down with me
--Having so many quarters at my house so I don't have to put anything off to get cash
--Getting a ride or an Uber to the laundromat (depends on who's around and available; unreliable and expensive in the case of Uber)
--Trying to do an hourly car rental a la zipcar (the nearest car is far away from my house, so it'd be a 30+ minute expedition to get the car before the laundry expedition could begin, then another 30+ minutes to return)
--Trying to do a home pickup laundry service (no laundry services I've found online will service my address)
--Doing a work from home day from the cafe next to the laundromat and bringing the laundry with me (this is the most successful strategy but is not always workable)

What I haven't tried:
--Wash and fold (this doesn't actually resolve the travel issue, and is $$, but I'm open to it and the great laundromat does offer it)
--Having a regular laundry day (I travel a lot for work so schedules get disrupted, and also I just tend to have a tough time making myself adhere to regularly scheduled unpleasant tasks that take up my whole evening)
--Getting one of those washing machines that hooks to your faucet, or whatever other at-home laundry technology there is

What am I missing? How do you make doing laundry easier as a competent adult? I've lived in a place without laundry in unit before, but the laundromat was just down the block and I don't remember it being so challenging.
posted by c'mon sea legs to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've done this before, similar distance. I actually did this even as a kid, and was assigned-family-laundry-person. I might start again soon, a similar distance(up a steep hill!) because my apartment buildings laundry has gotten so awful while simultaneously being expensive.

Buy something like this(i know, ugh, walmart, but i couldn't quickly find one on amazon that looked right). You want the big rubber wheels, and the metal frame. You want the fabric bag type, not the foldy-metal type as they break way faster.

When it's full, You Do The Laundry.

You get home from work, notice the full cart, and go throw it in as soon as you drop your work-stuff off.

Scheduled day? pile gets too big sometimes.

It also stops you from doing more than like, one load at a time which is a good thing and makes it not awful to lug.

I also tried this with a small basket, but i got super tired of carrying it. I would maybe explore a larger cart if i absolutely needed it, but honestly those things are a great size and hold about one larger machine full of laundry. Not the HUGE whole-sleeping-bag mega machines, but the mid-sized ones. They also keep folded things stacked well.

By the way, i did this in Seattle and did it right through the rain and weather. Anything but walking becomes a bear and will make you put it off.
posted by emptythought at 2:47 PM on June 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

What is the aversion to the rolling suitcases? I'd probably get a "granny cart" and use that vs the suitcases.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 2:49 PM on June 7, 2016 [13 favorites]

Idea 1: roll the cost of an Uber into the cost of doing laundry. Unless "six long blocks" is actually miles and miles -- which is too far to walk, anyway -- it can't be *that* expensive. Accrue as much laundry as possible before going, possibly enough to fill the trunk of the Uber, just to really get your money's worth and to amortize the ride across a lot of loads.

Idea 2: is there a bus that goes there? Get a cart (not a suitcase, something like this) and fill it with 2-3 loads. Take it on the bus.

Idea 3: Get that cart I recommended and just schlep it. Do this as often as possible so that you can do it with only a load at a time. Think of it as "going to the wifi cafe to get some work done" and not "doing laundry". Yes, you still have to schlep laundry up a steep hill, but it's less laundry and if you do it a lot you'll get used to it. I think this is emptythought's suggestion in a nutshell.
posted by Sara C. at 2:49 PM on June 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

What about using a backpacking backpack instead of rolling suitcases? A backpacking backpack is designed for carrying heavy things up and down hills in the least painful way possible, and has hip straps to distribute the weight.
posted by a sourceless light at 2:50 PM on June 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Do you have a friend that has a washer/dryer in their place? Maybe once a month or so they could pick you up, you could do all your laundry there while doing something for them (babysitting, helping cook, organizing things, whatever) and they could drop you back off. My boyfriend and I used to occasionally volunteer to babysit his niece and nephew because we really really wanted to get some free laundry done at his brother's house.
posted by jabes at 2:52 PM on June 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

Just get a granny cart (I once heard one called a 'Svetlana'...!) like every other urban-dweller -- but -- an "apartment sized" washer and dryer set changed my life. They were worth every penny; they work just as well as full-sized and are silly-easy to hook up to the sink, and roll out of the way when you're not using them.
posted by kmennie at 2:54 PM on June 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

--Getting one of those washing machines that hooks to your faucet, or whatever other at-home laundry technology there is

This is what I have. I got it used from Craigslist pretty cheap. I love it. If your lease/landlord doesn't counter indicate it, it is well worth it and pays for itself fairly quickly.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:57 PM on June 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Wash and fold. Wash and fold. Also I've used a backpacking backpack with a frame for getting laundry there and back, but if it's too much work to ferry clothing AND wash and dry it AND carry it back, then just do the part where you transport it and let them clean it and fold it.

The wash and fold lady at my hometown laundromat got white athletic socks insanely clean, I don't know how she did it.
posted by annathea at 3:09 PM on June 7, 2016

Wash and fold also usually packs down very compact, much moreso than just schlepping clean laundry home unfolded, often even more compact than you could get it yourself if you folded onsite. If you're going downhill with the big bulky load and uphill with the compactly folded load, it won't be as bad.

Also, seriously, granny cart.
posted by Sara C. at 3:10 PM on June 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you live alone? Instead of thinking about how awful it is to lug your dirty underwear up a hill for 6 blocks, think about putting on work out clothes, jogging your stuff in a cart, and then hanging out in the cafe looking for your soul mate while your skivvies get clean. If you do this at the same time every week, you will become a regular, and make it easier for him or her to find you.

It's not a chore- it's a work out and a search for true love.

Do buy some sort of cart, though, clothes are heavy.

Google 'gardening wagon'
posted by myselfasme at 3:12 PM on June 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Add me to the group of people who bought a portable washing machine. It screws into my bathroom tap, I use it as my hamper, when it gets full I run it. No more stairs, no more lugging, no more quarters, I'm done. My only regret is not buying one earlier. Easily, by far and away, the best home purchase I've ever made, and I'm including my sectional couch in that, and dude, I fucking LOVE my couch.
posted by phunniemee at 3:18 PM on June 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

You don't need a home laundry pickup service, you just need a schlep service. Post a flyer in the laundromat that offers cash for someone to pick up your laundry at your house, drop it off for wash-and-fold, and drop it back off at your house when it's done. The laundromat would probably let you pre-pay for the wash-and-fold. I'm sure someone who is already going to go do laundry would be happy for a few extra bucks to grab yours on the way and drop it off on their way home.
posted by juniperesque at 3:33 PM on June 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

1. Get a granny cart
2. Hang things that aren't actually dirty, like skirts or jeans, back up so you don't have to wash them as often.
3. Get an Uber just for the trip back. Downhill is easy, uphill is hard, so take the uphill part out of the equation.
posted by MsMolly at 3:33 PM on June 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

I like the backpack idea. If I had to drag something with wheels down the stairs of my apartment and through a city, poo and all, I would never do it. The backpack seems way more compact and less fiddly to deal with. Keep all your quarters in one of the pockets.
posted by delight at 3:40 PM on June 7, 2016

I bought a washing machine that hooks up to my kitchen sink. It changed my life. I loathed going to the laundromat. I bought a Haier off of craigslist. I no longer have mounds of laundry around or give up chunks of time at the laundromat. Invest in some clothes air dryer racks too.
posted by tippy at 3:44 PM on June 7, 2016

I also live 6 ish very busy blocks from my laundromat. I have a giant rolling cart (like this but taller and black) that I fill with Ikea bags of my dirty laundry. Early in the morning, when it is not very busy but the laundromat has just opened, I take my things there. I leave them. The laundromat man washes and folds my clothing. I return at approximately 8pm, pay between $18 and $24 for this magic, and lug my stuff back home. Things that I have found made this less awkward for me:

- going when it is not so busy on the street
- getting something that is easy to pull (I used to have a cart I was too tall for. That was a hella awkward walk)
- absolving myself of any guilt for paying this guy to do my laundry. I do laundry maybe 1.5x per month (I have a lot of underwear, and dry clean my nice work clothes) and the price is worth the convenience for me.

But seriously. Wash and fold is magic. Otherwise I would live in an entirely filthy and/or disposable wardrobe.

Downsides: I'm not great with keeping up on laundry of dishclothes, towels, bedding, etc. But you easily could be if you are more responsible than me.
posted by hepta at 4:41 PM on June 7, 2016

Wonderwash is a fine and inexpensive little fella. Don't overload it and use soap sparingly. Your hands will grow strong from wringing. You can add a drop or so of essential oil to the rinse water, and smell delicious all week.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:48 PM on June 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I offer this idea in the spirit of "considering all options" and not because I know it's a good idea. You mention you travel a lot.... any chance the hotels you stay at offer laundry service? You could bring a laundry bag of dirty clothes with you. If you're at a corporate suite type place, they might have laundry machines for the guests to use.
I think the granny cart is dependent on if your place has stairs and the hill. It's worth trying in any case, but it is hard to push a full cart up a hill. I'd probably go with Uber if you can afford it, or craigslist a hiking pack as a more affordable option. And one more idea: I had a laundry friend for a while in college. I had a car and I picked her & her laundry up on the way to the laundromat, then she paid for my laundry or bought me beers while our laundry was washing. Any chance you can find an arrangement like that? Finally, I submit Thursday night is optimal laundry time. You can wash your work clothes before the next work week starts and not have to worry about it over the weekend. I know you have an erratic schedule, but you need to try to have a laundry schedule and then you'll have to adjust it when you travel.
posted by areaperson at 6:04 PM on June 7, 2016

Seconding MsMolly, the walkers in my hilly neighborhood use granny carts.
posted by rhizome at 6:30 PM on June 7, 2016

I loathe even carrying my laundry to the car. I gave up and just handwash in the bathtub and hang dry. I'm so much happier.
posted by Vaike at 7:08 PM on June 7, 2016

I have one of these, in the largest size it pretty much can handle as much laundry as a regular washing machine. Caveats:

(1) You will have to fill it in somehow - you can hook it up to your sink tap but the provided hose is cheap flimsy plastic and it doesn't fit on some people's taps, although this is a non-issue, as I just use the showerhead to fill in the washer

(2) You have to drain and refill the washer for the rinse cycle

(3) You have to manually move the laundry (in batches, about 2-3 batches for each wash load) into the spinning compartment.

Other than that, I love this washer and like you was so done with going outside to do the laundry. Now even though it requires more manual effort, I don't have to leave the house and can just do it in the background as I read Metafilter :)
posted by Ender's Friend at 7:26 PM on June 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that no one has suggested a bicycle. You can coast downhill to the laundry, then shift to your lowest gear and pedal uphill to your dwelling. If you're taking a bunch of laundry, something like a Burley Travoy might be a good investment, but a good set of racks and panniers would let you take just as much without the hassle of a trailer. An Xtracycle extension is another option.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:57 PM on June 7, 2016

When my washing machine broke a few years ago, I bought and used a breathing hand washer until my replacement washer arrived. It works amazingly well for such a simple, inexpensive device! You can use it in your tub or with a five gallon bucket. No more trips to the laundromat!
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:50 PM on June 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I had to do this I took a six pack of beer (and sometimes a friend motivated by said beer) and made it a date.
posted by bendy at 10:15 PM on June 7, 2016

Is there an alternative laundromat near/en route to your place of work where you could just take a bag of stuff/one load in at the morning, pay for wash and fold, pick it up in the evening when you leave work?

Hotel laundry service - when you travel for work bring back clean clothes - less need for the laundromat.

Get lots of underwear/socks so you can wait longer between having to use the laundromat near your home and make the uber or whatever more cost effective.

If this is really as much of an issue as you say, when you next move, find a building with good in house facilities/buy a washing machine.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:43 AM on June 8, 2016

I concur with brianogilvie that a bike is your most best bet. I have lugged forty pounds of vegetables and milk on my bike using two panniers. It was slow on the up hills but the easiest and cheapest way, assuming you have a bike already.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:46 AM on June 8, 2016

There are laundry services that will pick up and drop off from your home. I think they are usually targeted to college students but I'm sure most would be willing to take on paying clients of any stripe.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:42 PM on June 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

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