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Laundromat | © RyanMcGuire / Pixabay
Laundromat | © RyanMcGuire / Pixabay
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Everything You Need to Know About Using a Laundromat in New York City

Picture of Julia Goicochea
Updated: 19 October 2017
Reality check: as abundant as luxury is in New York City, most locals don’t have the advantage of in-unit washers and dryers. Even in the most high-end areas, you’ll see people lugging their laundry down the street to the nearest laundromat, a sight particular to New York City. Don’t be daunted by your dirty laundry—here’s everything you need to know about using a New York laundromat.

You’re going to need quarters—lots of them

New York City laundromat machines run on quarters. As it turns out, however, so does your neighborhood bodega, grocery store, and sidewalk stand. Rather than relying on nearby businesses—or even less dependable, the laundromat’s change machines—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 to wash, and 10 to 15 minutes of drying time will run you about 25 cents.

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

Between waiting for an available machine and the wash and drying cycles to complete, doing laundry takes time; thankfully, no one expects you to remain trapped in the laundromat the whole while. 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, even 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.

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Laundry machine | © stevepb / Pixabay

Come prepared

We’ve covered the cruciality of quarters, but you’ll need to prepare for your laundromat visit in other ways as well. In order to avoid paying more for materials such as detergent and dryer sheets, bring your own with you rather than purchasing these items at the laundromat, which will hike up prices. Once you’ve saved money, save time by sorting your laundry into whites and darks before you get to 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. Do your research before choosing a laundromat, and you may find some rewards, such as complimentary wifi, a massage chair, retro arcade video games, and even free brunch.

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Arcade game | © PepaLove / Pixabay

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, which 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.