washer dryer laundry

(Source: Guido via Flickr Creative Commons)

For years, in an attempt to be frugal, I lugged my huge pile of laundry down five flights of stairs to the washer-dryer in the basement of my apartment building. Once there, I was usually confronted with one of several problems: the machines were all taken, or my laundry detergent had been stolen, or I dropped a quarter under the washing machine and no longer had enough money to start a load. Even if, by some miracle, none of these problems emerged, I would still end up running up and down those stairs from my apartment to the washer-dryer several times to switch loads. Good exercise? Absolutely. An effective use of time and money? Probably not.

Pros and Cons of Wash & Fold vs. Washer-Dryer

One of the cheapest and most convenient services in New York City is the wash and fold laundry service. Drop off your laundry, go about your business, and pick it up a day or two later beautifully pressed and folded. Once I discovered a wash and fold business in the basement of my building I never went back: it saves time, soothes my anxiety, and makes me feel like a baller to have someone else handle my dirty socks. Here is the cost breakdown:

Washer-Dryer in Your Apartment Building

Estimated cost: $9 per two loads of laundry

This is estimating $1.50 for the washer and $3.00 for dryer (yes, do it twice because the dryers, at least in my apartment building, were terrible and never dried my clothes properly.) Times that by two, because we all know everyone waits until their last pair of underwear before taking the laundry plunge.

Wash & Fold

Estimated cost: $17.60 for two loads of laundry.

Per-pound averages are about $1.10 and two loads of laundry is approximately 16 pounds.

OK, so clearly doing your laundry using the washer-dryer in your apartment building is cheaper, but – throwback to Econ 101 here – think of the opportunity cost!! How much are the three hours you spend on laundry worth to you? How much would you pay to spare yourself the aggravation of the basement laundry room and those terrible washers-dryers? If the answer is more than $8, then I suggest you make the switch to a wash and fold service.

How Do You Do Your Laundry?

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For the technologically savvy (or the truly lazy), there is a new frontier in laundry management: the app. There are a couple services now that will send someone straight to your door to pick up your dirty duds, wash them according to your preferences and then drop them off the next day. Prices are comparable to a wash and fold and brings us ever closer to that not-so-distant point in which there is no need to ever leave our apartments. Check out FlyCleaners and Cleanly.