Laundromat Etiquette: The Unspoken Rules
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! :)
- How to Kill Time at a Laundromat (20 Things to Do While Waiting for Your Laundry)
I don't know about you, but I get bored at laundromats. Here are some ideas for how to pass the time.