Laundry Hacks, apartment edition
August 7, 2006 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Doing laundry sucks. Doing laundry in an apartment, with two elderly machines that are always either broken or in use sucks more. Anyone have any laundry hacks?

Basically, I just want to dread doing the laundry less. I don't know whether I need to look into laundromats or what (if I don't now, I might need to in the fall when my college-town apartment building fills up...).

The situation right now is my girlfriend and I, each wearing clothes at roughly the standard rate, and each doing laundry every week-and-a-half to two weeks.
posted by electric_counterpoint to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I find it helpful to do laundry at improbable times (such as around midnight). It won't help with broken machines, but it can help you avoid busy ones.

Also, work out if there is any article of clothing you run out of unusually quickly (like socks) and buy more of them.
posted by sindark at 7:41 AM on August 7, 2006

if you can afford it, consider sending your laundry to one of those 'wash and fold' places?

If you're renting your apartment, and the laundry facilities are mentioned in the lease as an amenity, you could ask your landlord to repair/replace them.

Why exactly do you 'dread' doing laundry?
posted by darsh at 7:43 AM on August 7, 2006

You could always do some of your laundry by hand. It's very inexpensive, especially compared to laundromat prices.

You can pick up Zote soap for $.50 at a Hispanic Grocery by my house. Then just grab yourself a drying rack and you should be set to go.

Wash your clothes in the tub or sink, and then wring them out and hang them to dry. I've dried clothes in Wisconsin winters, just put them by someplace that gets some airflow like a heating vent and you should be fine, or solar dry it outside for even faster drying.

Some things lend themselves to hand washing FAR more then others. I wash my underclothes, tee shirts and dress shirts, when I don't want to pay to do laundry, but usually break down and pay when I want to wash harder clothes like jeans and slacks.
posted by gregschoen at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2006

Wow, I'm tired, I just reread that and part of it doesn't sound right at all! ;)
posted by gregschoen at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2006

Is there a live at home mamma in your apartment building who might like a bit of tax-free black market pocket money? Hire her to do your laundry for you.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:51 AM on August 7, 2006

Definitely send the laundry out, if that's possible where you live. I haven't done my own laundry in 2 years. It's FABULOUS- the place I go picks up and delivers.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:00 AM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel your pain. My building's washers & dryers are often out of commission, and I'm sick of fighting with my neighbors over getting to use them. If I do laundry at my building, I pretty much can only count on being able to do it late at night on Friday or Saturday nights, and then only if the machines aren't broken.

My solution has been to find a local laundromat that is staffed. The machines always work, and if one is broken, the nice lady there tells you before you waste your quarters. It's a lot cleaner than my communal laundry room, and there's a comfy lounge area. I use it as a time to relax and read, and the best part is that I can do as many loads of laundry as I have at the same time, rather than having to do them one at a time. It takes at most 2 hours including folding my stuff, and I get some nice quiet time in to boot.

Though I may have to look into laundry services that do the work for you...what a great idea.
posted by tastybrains at 8:05 AM on August 7, 2006

I also vouch for the laundromat. The one I use isn't very nice, but it's better than dealing with my apartment building's washer and dryer, which only work marginally. You still have to do all the folding, but at least you can do all the laundry at once, rather than spending the whole day switching loads.
posted by christinetheslp at 8:13 AM on August 7, 2006

I also had a Haier portable washer until management found out I had a forbidden machine in my apartment and told me to get rid of it (and my forbidden pet hamster) or they'd evict me. I passed my washer on to a friend who more than a year later is still thanking me for the machine.
posted by asianvikinggirl at 9:35 AM on August 7, 2006

If you have access to a truck, there always seem to be free ugly but working washers & dryers on craigslist from people who have upgraded.
posted by roboto at 11:00 AM on August 7, 2006

Best answer: Drop it off. Drop it off. Seriously, I swear that just dropping my laundry off and paying the nice ladies to wash & fold has increased my quality of life more than anything I else I can imagine. And I figured out that around here, when you take into account the cost of the machines & soap. it isn't even that much more than doing it yourself (a buck or three). Just drop it off and you will never go back to doing your own.
posted by dame at 11:03 AM on August 7, 2006

I want to second dame that you may find that having the laundromat wash/dry/fold it for you might actually cost very little more than doing it yourself.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:11 AM on August 7, 2006

Best answer: Laundromat. One of the things I miss about college was being able to completely do all of my laundry in 3 hours. Wash in, soap in. wait 20 minutes. Feed wet clothes to dryer, but space them out about 8 minutes apart per dryer load.

Fold the warm clothes as they come out of the dryer, bring hangers with you. You should be able to fold/hang a load's worth in 8 minutes, just in time for the next dry load to be ready.

When you get home, hang the hangables, then drawer the rest.

Now that I own my own house, I'm seriously considering a second dryer and a second dishwasher.
posted by Wild_Eep at 11:14 AM on August 7, 2006

A longtime laundrymat attendent taught me to use about 4 dryers per wash load. Not only did things get dry faster, but it took fewer quarters.
posted by QIbHom at 11:56 AM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

I find that handwashing socks, underwear and a few t-shirts tends to cut down on the frequency I have to actually do laundry quite a bit.
posted by borkingchikapa at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you're in a college town and you're having trouble with the washers being busy in the summer, yeah, you need to find somewhere else to go. Looks like there are plenty of good ideas here already.

Oh, I do have one helpful hint: keep a change jar that's quarters only. That way you always know exactly how much you have/need.
posted by Sibrax at 9:15 PM on August 7, 2006

Hey, to build off what Sibrax said about the quarters, here's a handy tip: M&M minis containers are PERFECT for quarters.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:07 AM on August 8, 2006

Laundrymat tip...

If you can find frontloading machines, they can hold a lot more per load, so you spend less on washing and soap (they take less soap, too). You'll still want to spread the load over several dryers, though--especially since the washer holds more than the dryers.

If it doesn't totally gross you out, you can alternate between two after-shower towels for a couple of days, letting one hang dry on the day you're using the other one...something a lot of college kids do. If you think about are CLEAN when you're using them, so it's not like rewearing socks & underwear.

You might also be able to talk a college student into doing your laundry at the laundromat for a small fee...they need quiet time to study anyway. You might even be able to barter their services for some home-cooked meals or freshly baked cookies.
posted by Mrs. Smith at 1:55 PM on August 8, 2006

Dude. You have a girlfriend. And your asking us about laundry hacks becaaauuusssseeee?
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:15 PM on August 8, 2006

To echo allkinsoftime... I have two laundry hacks that worked well for me over the years.

1. Having parents
2. Getting married

In between those two "hacks" involved lots of shopping for clean underwear and socks.
posted by SupaDave at 11:08 AM on August 9, 2006 [2 favorites]

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