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Laundromat Etiquette: The Unspoken Rules

Updated on June 25, 2015

Minding Your Manners at the Laundromat

Are there really rules for using a public laundromat?

Yes, yes there are. Although many times these words may go unspoken or unwritten, there is such a thing as laundromat etiquette.

How do you know?

Well, I have worked at and managed our local laundromat for the last 15 years. I have encountered some wonderful people along with some unusual situations.

Believe it or not, we have had fistfights (more than once) over laundry! Do you think we need to put up a sign that says "No Fistfights Allowed"? Maybe. The truth is people can be ignorant.

Today, I want to discuss a few of the things that cause the biggest problems and let you know how you can avoid these situations yourself.

Laundromat Etiquette 101: The Washers

Most of the things I am about to tell you will seem like common sense, or shall I say common courtesy. Yet many people out there break all of these rules every time they poke their heads into a laundromat. I won't mention any names here, you know who you are.

When you first arrive at a public laundromat, go inside and take a quick look around. Make sure there are machines available for use before you drag all your laundry in. If you see a basket or bag of clothes in front of a washer, consider it occupied and move on. Do not move someone else's laundry and use the machine!

Please, please, please sort your laundry at home before you bring it. Most laundromats are relatively small, which means they are limited in space. No one wants to see or step over your dirty laundry scattered all over the place as you sort it.

Now that you have picked your washer, by all means load it up. You will see that your laundry has left dirt and hair in the bottom of your basket. Resist the urge to pick it up and dump it out on the floor. Instead, take your basket outside and empty it there. Why? More often than not, you will have something fall to the floor while removing clothes from the washer. How would you like it to land in the filth that you just created? Or worse, it may land in the nastiness that the last person left there the same way.

This next complaint is a pet peeve of my co-worker and friend of 15 years. She calls this one "the stash-and-dash." It's where you throw your laundry in the wash, start the machine, and then haul ass. You may think this is a good idea when you're doing it, but it's not. You are the kind of person that causes unnecessary floods. What happens is that something like a bra strap or a shoe string gets caught in the door and goes unnoticed until the sound of water gushing on the floor is heard. If you wait until the washer has filled up and begun to wash before you leave (this only takes about three minutes), this messy situation can be avoided altogether.

One of the biggest problems we face in our laundromat is people leaving their clothes unattended. I'm not saying that you can't put your clothes in the wash and come back to dry them; no one has a problem with that. Just make sure that you pay attention to the time so that you can make it back to remove your wash so that others may use the machine as well.

Here's a question that many of you may want an answer to: Is it ever okay to remove someone's clothing from a washer? If the laundromat is attended, you can just ask the person working if you could use the machine in question, and they will empty it for you. However, if you decide to take matters in your own hands, keep in mind that for every action there is a reaction. I have seen this very scenario play out before me many times, and it almost always ends badly.

Laundromat Etiquette 101: The Dryers

The drying stage is fairly simple: The number one rule here is to have patience.

You must wait for your turn just like everyone else. You are not some sort of laundry god that deserves to have an empty dryer just because your laundry has finished washing. The truth is, if someone is ahead of you in the drying line, this is most likely because they got here before you did.

Okay, we touched on my co-workers pet peeve, so now let me tell you mine: DRYER SHEETS! I don't mind if you use dryer sheets, just throw them away when you're done. There is no reason for you to leave them on the floor or in the dryers for someone else to clean up. These things are like banana peels on the floor; someone could get really hurt because you didn't feel the need to clean up behind yourself.

Here's another one: We absolutely can't stand it when someone comes in and places their dirty clothes on a clean folding table. People use these tables while they are folding clean clothes. You can avoid the stink-face by simply putting your clothes down in front of the washer that you are going to use.

Do not fold your clothes right out of the dryer. This is what that table is for. When your time is up, remove your clothing and head over to a folding table (or take them home and fold them) but do not fold directly out of the dryers. Other people want to use that dryer but they can't because you are now blocking it but not using it!

This next one bothers everyone! Please do not leave your laundry in the dryer for long periods of time. Yes, you can leave it while you run a few errands, but time it. We don't expect you to be there the second the machine stops... actually, we do, but we won't mind as much if you are only a few minutes late.

Laundromat Etiquette 101: Final Tips

So what is the moral behind this rant? It just boils down to being courteous to others: Respect other peoples' space and don't mess with anything that doesn't belong to you.

If you make a mess, clean it up, or at alert the attendant. Pick up your dryer sheets and close the dryer door behind yourself.

Changing a few bad habits may make your next laundry mission an easier one to endure. There is no need to make it an unpleasant experience for yourself or anyone else, for that matter.

Sorry for the rant, but working at a laundromat for so long and seeing these things, day in and day out, begins to wear on you. I guess you could say that laundry makes me a basket case! :)

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    • primpo profile image

      Primpo 5 months ago from Brooklyn, New York

      Lina: yes you can bring wet clothes in to be dried. it's ok.

    • profile image

      Lina 5 months ago

      Hello, can I bring wet clothes from home and use the dryer at a laundromat?

    • primpo profile image

      Primpo 6 months ago from Brooklyn, New York

      Hi!!! It's funny that I come across this hub. I wrote a hub about a money machine being in the laundry matt, you know.. a game but your hub was available so I clicked on it. I live in Brooklyn and I do go to the laundry matt, twice a week. It's one of those laundry matts that you put money on a card and use the card in the machine. I try to be as courteous as I can except for sorting clothes, but I don't sort them on the floor. The laundry matt I use is fairly large, I usually use three machines, whites in small, towels and washrags in medium and the rest in a larger one. it works out good, because I sort my clothing right out of my rolling basket so I don't scatter on the floor. I know what you mean about some of the things you were talking about. I swear people get mad over the stupidest things and a lot of times they have the tv on so loud with the most obnoxious things on that I can't stay there. luckily I live one block away, I usually go home and work on something like making beds and such and come back in time. Get a cup of coffee or something like that. I switch laundry and go at it at home again, I can't stay there, I get so bored and I don't want to see tv. The biggest thing I see that goes on is there is a particular table that people seem to migrate towards. I used too also, but I just use a table off to the side now which makes things a lot easier. I think this table is because its the longest one there and it's not by the sink. Anyway I liked your hub. Great thing to talk about.

    • profile image

      JudyAnn 13 months ago

      I can't find anything about the use of scented products in laudromats. People use so much that when I get my sheets home i can't sleep on them. I have asthma and it is so bad I can't breathe. Why are there no scent free machines - there are lots of asthmatics! I find nothing about this topic anywhere!!!! Help!

    • profile image

      bonobos marcos 2 years ago

      I really like your tip in regards to separating your clothes before you get to the laundromat. I often find that when I sort them before I get there I tend to get my laundry done a lot faster. Getting it done faster is great because it gives me more time to do the rest of my errands.

      http://www.24hrlaundromatca.com/

    • profile image

      The Laundry Lady 2 years ago

      I too work at a local coin laundry. My pet peeve is when people don't rinse out dirty diapers or childrens underwear before putting them in the washer. I can't tell you how many times I've found a fully formed turd (or two!) just laying in the bottom of the machine. C'mon folks! Not only do you may my life difficult, but you just washed your clothes in shit! Grosss!

    • theluckywriter profile image

      Stephanie 4 years ago from Canada

      I once came back to move my laundry from the washer to the dryer...only to see that someone had PUT THEIR CLOTHES IN WITH MINE! I'm just trying to picture someone stopping the machine in the middle of the wash, opening it, throwing their dirty clothes in with mine, restarting the machine and then leaving. Unbelievable!