Everything You Need To Know About Using a Laundromat in New York City

Unique, retro-painted washers and dryers in a local laundromat, New York City
Unique, retro-painted washers and dryers in a local laundromat, New York City | © Americana / Alamy Stock Photo
Julia Goicochea

In a city with no shortage of luxury, it may come as a surprise that most New Yorkers don’t have the advantage of washers and dryers in their homes. Even in the most high-end areas you’ll see people lugging their laundry down the street to the nearest laundromat. But don’t be daunted by your dirty laundry – here’s everything you need to know about using a New York laundromat.

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You’re probably going to need quarters – lots of them

Many New York City laundromat machines still run on quarters. Rather than relying on nearby businesses for coins, exchange your cash for quarters at the bank before laundry day. On average, one load will cost you $2.25 to $3.50 (9 to 14 quarters) to wash, and 8 to 15 minutes of drying time will run you about 25 cents.

Many New York laundromats require coins to run washers and dryers

You don’t have to wait around for your laundry to be done…

Between waiting for an available machine and waiting for the washing and drying cycles to complete, doing laundry takes time. Thankfully, however, no one expects you to remain trapped in the laundromat the whole time. Once your load is good to go, so are you. Many locals will use this time to run other errands, relax at a nearby café or restaurant, or if they live within a few blocks’ radius, wait out their wash in the comfort of their own home.

…But be sure to be there when it’s finished

While it’s socially acceptable to leave your laundry as it’s washing or drying, you’re going to want to be there by the time your load has finished – partly to be considerate of others who may be waiting to use the machines and partly because New Yorkers tend to be impatient. At some point, you’ll likely see a load of clean laundry that an irked neighbor has removed from a machine and dumped haphazardly around the laundromat. Don’t let it be yours.

Is this man emptying the machine of his laundry or someone else’s?

Come prepared

We’ve covered the importance of quarters, but you’ll need to prepare for your laundromat visit in other ways as well. In order to avoid paying more for detergent and dryer sheets, bring your own rather than purchasing these items at the laundromat. You can also save a bit of time by sorting your whites and darks before coming to the laundromat, if you want to bother sorting at all.

Bring your own detergent – it’s cheaper than buying it at the laundromat

Consider timing when planning your trip

The best times to use a laundromat – when you’re likely to find more free machines and fewer people – are weekday mornings and afternoons. If you can’t avoid a weekend trip, time your visit for as early in the day as possible.

Some laundromats make even the most boring chore enjoyable

In typical New York City style, many laundromats boast unique features designed to make errands entertaining. Most people settle for the nearest laundromats, but if you do your research before choosing a laundromat, you may find some rewards, like TV and free Wi-Fi. Celsious in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, offers a relaxed atmosphere complete with a coffee shop for you to wait out your laundry. For those whom food alone will not tempt, Sunshine Laundromat in Greenpoint offers a collection of classic arcade games.

There’s more than one way to use a laundromat

From grocery shopping to driving, New Yorkers love to outsource. For busy locals, laundry is no exception, and many laundromats offer services that allow you to drop off your laundry and pick it up after it’s been washed and folded. Most businesses charge by the pound, with additional costs for heavier items such as comforters and towels.

These late-night customers have this New York City laundromat to themselves

With additional reporting by Parrish Turner

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