communal apartment laundries...making you hate laundry even more since 2008
May 9, 2008 7:34 PM   Subscribe

The communal washing machines in my apartment building are worthless. They don't remove any sort of stain or spill, regardless of solubility or severity. When I remove the wet clothes from the washer, nasty stripes and splotches of lint cover my clothes (especially obvious on darks). Is there a specific complaint I can make to my landlord, or should I just give up and go to a laundromat?

I can't believe I have to pay $1 per wash for these totally worthless machines. I use liquid Tide Coldwater (and wash in cold, always) and currently it is the "old" Tide that is not super concentrated, so I would say I use about 1/3-1/2 cup per wash. I try not to overload the washers, and I usually fill the tub partially before loading. Based on the results below, is there a specific complaint I can make to my landlord? I don't just want to call and say "the washers suck, fix them..." I feel my unresponsive property management might be a little more on the ball if they knew what the problem was. (And no, I don't think I'll be trying to do all my laundry in the bathtub)

Some examples of the laundry awesomeness:

-Just last the other night I attempted to wash a pair of khaki pants with small splotches of whipping cream on them. I poured a little detergent on them and rubbed the pants together near the spots in an attempt to pre-treat...not only did the spots not come out completely, today in the sunshine I noticed a huge spot that was lighter in color where the detergent did not completely rinse out.

-My mom tossed a few of my clothes in the wash when I was home visiting, and had to wash them twice because they had so much soap residue left in them.

-I pretreated a stain with some Stain Stick (the deodorant-like gelly stuff) and the frickin' Stain Stick didn't even wash out. I had to rinse out the garment in the sink.

-Since I line dry ~3/4 of my clothes the white lint crap stays stuck to my shirt and is especially nasty on dark shirts.

-Stupid crazy bizatches that live downstairs complain when I remove their laundry because they left the washer unattended for an hour while they had an "important phone call" and felt the need to be all dramatic and scream and me about it and proceed to re-wash their husband's clothes. (Well, that's probably out of the scope of this question, but it just adds to my LAUNDRY ANGST)

Needless to say, I was quite depressed this weekend when visiting a married friend's new house and seeing her brand spankin' new LG front loading machines....forget the yard, I just want a washer that works!!
posted by sararah to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Slightly related question previously. You and Brachiosaurus should form a support group.
posted by salvia at 7:45 PM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hard water can cause soap residue/buildup. So can overloading a washer or using a washer with a weak agitator. The left-behind lint usually means it's time to clean out the lint trap (washers have them too), which is a job for apartment maintenance.
posted by jamaro at 7:55 PM on May 9, 2008

Response by poster: Do you know if there is a detergent that would be better in hard water situations? Or adding a scoop of [something] to the wash? I am sure it is hard water since it is an apartment building.
posted by sararah at 8:00 PM on May 9, 2008

It sounds to me like you should just go to the laundromat. I've been looking for a rental company to provide washing machines for a community I work with, and found none that seemed worthwhile. If you have crummy neighbors to deal with, that just doubles the reason for using the laundromat.
posted by anadem at 8:12 PM on May 9, 2008

Check the back of your Tide bottle, a lot of laundry detergents have special instructions for hard water use.

My mom used to add a half cup of some concoction she made with Borax to the wash to counter the hard water we had coming out of the tap.
posted by jamaro at 8:19 PM on May 9, 2008

Best answer: Washing soda (sodium carbonate) will soften hard water. If the agitators are weak, you might need the extra agitation oomph of warm water to help them out, too. And do get the lint traps cleaned out (you might be able to do this yourself).
posted by flabdablet at 8:35 PM on May 9, 2008

Best answer: Definitely use warm water, and add soda to soften the water. If you continue to have trouble, you might want to wash first with soap and wash again with plain water.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:38 PM on May 9, 2008

1st - Talk to your landlord. Butter him up first.. establish relationship.... lead him into concern, don't bombard him, he might put up a defensive wall..

2nd - also see if other peeople in your building have the same concerns (except of course, those crazy biathches..) and get some weight behind your concern.

3rd - don't let it eat you up from the inside. tackle it and resolve it. learn to love challenges like this.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:45 PM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

apologies.. my above is based on the fact there is 1 of 3 problems

1 - machines are crap and broken
2 - the water is super-hard (and a softener would be a wise investment)
3 - water pressure and volume to the apartment is lower than should be (dodgy 3rd point, the machine should not be affected by this)
posted by Frasermoo at 8:49 PM on May 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for your zen-like approach to my LAUNDRY ANGST, Frasermoo. I will try to be nice to the landlord, but seeing as past experiences have shown me it has taken then 6 months to replace a towel bar and 3 weeks to replace a garbage disposal, I have my reservations about their response time. :P
posted by sararah at 8:49 PM on May 9, 2008

If they still make portable apartment-size washers and driers consider getting a pair. Twenty years ago we were spending $10 weekly in the apartment laundry room. We bought an apartment set for under $30 per month and had the convenience of doing it at our convenience, in our space, and without the filth of other users of the common laundry.
posted by swarkentien at 9:04 PM on May 9, 2008

Don't complain to the landlord.

Kindly tell him that you and a number of other tenants are doing your laundry at the laundromat, and why. Mention that you would be happy to put your money in the onsite machines if they worked in a satisfactory way.

Some buildings subcontract out providing machines, if this is the case call that company instead.
posted by yohko at 11:12 PM on May 9, 2008

Your mentioning the price of doing a load leads me to wonder whether you might be cramming too much into the washer, trying to save $$. Not only will this lead to problems rinsing out your clothes, but it could also lead to much more wear on the fabric -- leading to your needing to replace the clothes earlier (or to them being less usable if you donate them before they wear out).
posted by amtho at 5:26 AM on May 10, 2008

There's always an option like this wee manual washing machine.
posted by sugarfish at 5:39 AM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

omg, buy yourself an apartment washer machine! i got this one and loooooooooove it. mine cost about $190 a year or so ago, they seem a bit more pricey these days but so worth it! it staves off the laundrymat of doom for a while until you can make those big trips and most things dry overnight.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:53 AM on May 10, 2008

If you go with the in apt washer option, you can hang stuff on plastic hangers (to prevent rust stains) and hang it on the shower curtain rod. The trick to it is to stick a floor fan in the bathroom and blow it towards the laundry. Assuming you don't stuff too much in one load, it can dry by morning, or the next evening at most. If it isn't dry by morning, you want to turn the hangers around backwards so the fan hits the other side.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 3:53 PM on May 11, 2008

For bonus points, nothing will shrink if dried this way.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 3:54 PM on May 11, 2008

For extra bonus points, damp washing hung up indoors in summer will help cool your living space.
posted by flabdablet at 6:10 AM on May 12, 2008

« Older Tex mex chorizo and eggs?   |   Is my roof leaking? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.