Let’s get real, doing your laundry is a necessary evil whether you’re visiting NYC or living in this wonderful city long-term. What isn’t so wonderful is navigating the NYC laundromat. Which one to choose? Should you do it yourself or have them take care of it? What about just having someone pick it up at your door? Take a deep breath in, we’re going to answer all your dirty laundry qualms, and before you know it, you’ll be ready to have pine tree fresh laundry in no time.
The NYC Laundromat
For most normal humans, doing their own laundry is a common occurrence. If you’re living in New York City without a trust fund, then you’ll likely sling a bag of dirty underwear over your shoulder and venture to your preferred laundromat at some point in your life.
However, when it comes to picking your allegiance between the hundreds of laundromats that’d appreciate your quarter-paying business, there are a few things to look for before committing.
First Check Your Basement
First, you must be thinking, “But Ian, I’ll have a washer and dryer in my apartment.”
Oh, how beautiful a sight that would be.
You walk into an apartment that is no larger than your midwest walk-in closet and 80% of the space is taken up by a washer and dryer. Keep dreaming, future Broadway star.
However, there is a small chance that your apartment building or wherever you’re staying has communal laundry in your building’s basement. I know what you’re thinking, the last place you want to go is your shady apartment building’s basement.
I get it, but dirty laundry isn’t going to clean itself.
The downfall of this option is that for the most part, you’ll have to pay these machines with quarters. Truthfully, this is one of my least favorite aspects of living in the city. The stress I have for making sure I keep $10-20 worth of quarters laying around at all times is incredible. Maybe I should see someone for that.
The pro-side is that you have a limited number of people using those machines, however, your maintenance guy will likely never fully clean the machines or maintain them so you’re guaranteed to at least have them break on you once…every week.
Might as well go to a New York laundromat, honestly.
Okay, so you have no laundry in your building. No big deal. You will join the ranks of almost every New Yorker to come before you. But how will you be prepared for the experience?
2 words: bring quarters.
Most laundromats in the city still operate on quarters. As mentioned above, it’s a pain in the butt, but it’s out of your control.
If you don’t have quarters on hand, some of the laundromats will give change if you ask, but don’t expect them to be jolly and happy about doing it. Just make it a habit to go to your local bank and ask to withdraw all the quarters, but make sure it’s not a holiday or a Sunday. Hoard these things in a mason jar. You’ll look cool and feel old school like you’re saving for a trip when in reality it’s all going to cleaning beer spills and mustard stains.
Find a Laundromat that gives you a laundry card
It’s this magical feeling when you finally stumble upon a laundromat in New York that offers a prepaid re-usable laundry card. Gone will be the frustration of quarters and welcome in an easy swipe and start.
How to best spot these?
Well for one, most will advertise they use them and, heck, you may be able to save $5 if you load it with X amount. If not, peek inside and look at the machines. If you see what looks like a credit card swiper or a vending machine money slot then you are golden!
Just ask them for a card and they’ll direct you to where to load it. I think our card cost’s $1.00. Worth it!
How much does it cost to do laundry in an NYC Laundromat?
Pricing varies depending on where you live, how sketchy the laundromat is, and what machines you use. I will say from my experience a normal wash will run you anywhere from $2.75 – $5.00 a load. Drying is a bit less than that.
Hope those H&M clothes are worth the Prada level wash prices. :/ #irony
Quality Over Price Every Day
Your clothes are important and the last thing you want is for a crappy wash to ruin them. I know it’s pretty basic, but I judge NYC laundromats by first checking Google reviews and then giving it a good old-fashioned visual check. If it looks dirty and like its the local spot for the random drug deals… just move on, there are five more on the block.
If they are clean and take laundry cards, you can bet their management company takes pride and prioritizes keeping them a place for people to use.
When To Do Your Laundry in NYC
If you’re visiting or have a flexible job, it is so much less stressful to go to the laundromat in NYC anytime on the weekday between 10:00 AM and say 3:00 PM. Everyone is at work and you will likely have the place to yourself. Pop in an episode of our podcast and begin getting your clean on!
I avoid weekend laundry days like the plague unless you get up nice and early to beat everyone’s hangover sleep-ins.
Wash & Fold
For those visiting the city or perhaps in a pinch on time, there is a service that many laundromats offer in the city called Wash & Fold.
It’s easy, you pack up a laundry bag and take it to the local laundromat. They will weigh the bag, give you a slip, and tell you to come to pick it up in a day or two. It’s very convenient but will run you on average about double the price of doing it yourself.
When I was a visitor in the city I would do this because it was easy and also, at the time, it blew my mind that I could pay someone to do my laundry and not have to take out a loan for it.
Let’s call it about $20 for an average load. They’ll wash, dry, and get this… they fold your laundry too! I’ve never seen people fold like that. So crisp. So perfect.
Pick Up & Delivered Laundry Services
The boujiest of bouji, pick up/delivery laundry services are available to you right at the tap of a button on your phone.
Just like Wash & Fold, with pick up/delivery apps like Cleanly, you can request a person to come to your door and pick up your laundry. 24-hours later they will bring it back with perfect folds and in most cases, the laundry is still warm.
Crisp and warm, like a perfectly toasted New York bagel.
Now let’s get real, this is most definitely the priciest of laundry options available to you in the city. We have to admit, we have succumbed to this temptation a time or two.
It’s honestly worth a try, and a good way to treat yourself every now and again especially on super busy NYC weeks. To the right, you will see what it cost us to get laundry done for a week’s worth of both Caroline and I’s clothes. This is after a $10 OFF coupon so, in reality, you are looking at $35-45 for a week of laundry. If you’re like me and hate laundry days, sometimes the money beats the two hours in a laundromat.
If you’d like to get $10 OFF your first two Cleanly washes use our offer code IANHO13 after downloading the Cleanly app.
Ready to take on the NYC Laundromat scene?
Do you feel ready to clean those clothes and get back to the hustle and bustle of the city? We believe in you, you’ve got this! We’d love to hear about your most crazy laundromat experiences in the city. Leave them in the comments below. Stay fresh fellow nomads. 🙂