No matter where in the world you live, a pile of laundry translates to procrastination. In New York City, however, putting off laundry is all the more easy for a couple reasons. First, no one actually has in-unit washer/dryers. Second, there’s no shortage of things to do and see, which makes the chore of laundry even less appealing. You could be spending your Thursday night seeing a free concert in the park or in an overly bright laundromat watching a TBS telecast. The choice seems obvious. Regardless, you gotta do it. If you choose to forgo the convenience (and expense) of the wash-and-fold route, here are some tips for making the trip to the laundromat as painless as possible.
Scope Out Best Time to Go
Weekdays after work and the weekends are notoriously busy times at the laundromat. If your schedule allows, go during the day on a weekday. Less people = more available machines, and less wasted time waiting around for someone else’s clothes to dry. In New York City, you also have the uniquely convenient and depressing option offered by the 24/7 laundromat — you can do your laundry in the middle of the night! While doing your laundry at 9 p.m. after work sounds miserable, do you really want to spend your valuable weekend hours cooped up at the laundromat?
Choose Your Laundromat Wisely
Not all laundromats are created equal. If a 24/7 schedule isn’t enough, many laundromats offer a slew of perks from wifi and arcade games to a massage chair (at Laundromat NY in East Harlem) and free bagels on Sundays. You’ll have to head to Bubbles & Suds Laundromat in Bay Ridge to get free brunch.
Prepare Your Supplies
This means quarters and detergent at the very least, but could also mean fabric softener and dryer sheets if you’re fancy like that. Don’t buy supplies at the laundromat, because they are always more expensive there. Discount stores are definitely the way to go when it comes to purchasing detergent. Usually 99 cent stores carry a whole range of low-cost products running the gamut from packs of cheap socks to brand-name cleaning products at highly discounted prices. You can easily save a couple bucks by buying here as opposed to your preferred grocery store chain.
Horde Your Quarters
Quarters are crucial to your survival at the laundromat. Quarters are also surprisingly difficult to come across in bulk. Don’t think you can expect the guy at the newspaper stand to exchange your $10 for 40 quarters. He needs those bad boys as much as you do. Your best bet will be to go to the local branch of your bank. In some cases, banks will exchange your bills for coins even if you don’t bank with them, but your safest option is to go with your own bank. Grocery stores also are a good option, but due to their supply and demand issues, can be protective of their quarter cache, too.
Sort Before You Go
The goal at the laundromat is to get in and out as quickly as possible, so sort your whites/darks/delicates at home. Carry them in separate bags – and make sure your bags are big enough to carry everything back after your clothes are clean. The big blue Ikea bags are a great option. And granny was onto something with that cart she used to push around. A lightweight, wheelie cart is an excellent way to transport laundry.
Check the Machine!
Before you start the washer, check the settings that you have the right temperature selected for your clothes. There’s nothing worse than bleeding colors because of overly hot water, or shrinking delicates in a very hot dryer. Also, take a quick once over of the inside of the machine to make sure it’s empty.
Do Delicates at Home
You may be trying to get out of the laundromat as quickly as possible, but you’ll be upset if you ruin your favorite top because of hastiness. Wash your dark clothes inside out to prevent against fading, and dry your sweaters flat instead of on a hanger to maintain shape. Consider washing delicates at home in your sink, and be especially careful with bras – underwire can warp very easily in dryers.
Combat Boredom With Productivity
Don’t look at your hours in the laundromat as wasted time: use them to cross off other chores on your list, like local trips to the pharmacy, bank, or grocery store. If you’re nervous about leaving your clothes unattended, bring your book, newspaper, or favorite podcast along. Respect the community in the laundromat, and refrain from stinky activities like eating and painting your nails. And consider throwing a dry towel into the dryer with your wet clothes – it saves time on drying!