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How to Find Good, Clean Laundromats?

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I've been living in a 20' campervan full time since July, 2015. Every time I go to do laundry, the laundromats all have at least one of these severe problems that are pushing me over the edge: Filthy smokers smoking right by the entry door, the floor is dirty, the machines are dirty, they dryers have things that stain my clothes, the machines are very hard to put quarter in (jammed) and there are filthy people in the way (crowded). 

How can I find a good, clean place to do laundry?

Edited by EcoNeato.org

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I don't recall ever  encountering problems like that and have been using commercial laundries for 20 years when needed but we mostly use campground laundries. Some look a little beat up and old but the machines function fine. As Linda says, use Yelp or Google and there are reviews.

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7 hours ago, EcoNeato.org said:

I've been living in a 20' campervan full time since July, 2015. Every time I go to do laundry, the laundromats all have at least one of these severe problems that are pushing me over the edge: Filthy smokers smoking right by the entry door, the floor is dirty, the machines are dirty, they dryers have things that stain my clothes, the machines are very hard to put quarter in (jammed) and there are filthy people in the way (crowded). 

How can I find a good, clean place to do laundry?

In all my years of full time rv'ing, the only problem I've encountered is when people use the machines to clean their pet articles and the machines are full of dog hair.  But, then again, maybe I'm a little more tolerant than some about sharing public facilities.

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What chirakawa said ^.

Warshing a dog’s bed in floofy smelling laundry soap must mess with their “this is my den” receptors...

 

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9 hours ago, EcoNeato.org said:

Every time I go to do laundry, the laundromats all have at least one of these severe problems that are pushing me over the edge: Filthy smokers smoking right by the entry door, the floor is dirty, the machines are dirty, they dryers have things that stain my clothes, the machines are very hard to put quarter in (jammed) and there are filthy people in the way (crowded). 

We travel in an RV too small for laundry equipment and do emphasize with you on these problems. I don't believe that we consider this to happen every time we visit a laundromat, but we have had that experience too frequently. We find that laundrys in the RV parks are usually nicer but they often cost more as well, probably due to a limited customer base. We also find that laundromats in small towns tend to be better cared for and more likely to have an attendant, which almost always means cleaner conditions. We also do a drive-by before we make a choice if there are 2 or more laundromats to choose from. We try to find someone local to get opinions from but sometimes we just have to deal with it, even though it may be annoying. 

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We never experienced anything like you describe. 

We didn't stay near bigger cities so perhaps the small towns are better. RV parks have problems with theirs sometimes especially if near a sandy beach.  In RV parks if it's for 55+ it will be cleaner than one utilized by families.The majority of places we've used have a employee constantly cleaning the equipment and floors.  

Even though we could have had equipment in our RV we chose not to do that.  We loved going every 2 weeks and getting it all done in 1.5-2 hr. time and then not having to think about it again.  The in-town ones have big commercial washers that have many rinses.  We take advantage of the time by doing errands while in town.  We catch up on reading while waiting.  It worked great for us.

After getting the motorhome we discovered the beauty of dry camping or boondocking on public lands so if we would have installed the W/D not having hookups would have been impossible to use them.  We made the right decision.

As stated above, ask the campground host for recommendations. They know the good places.

 

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8 hours ago, chirakawa said:

In all my years of full time rv'ing, the only problem I've encountered is when people use the machines to clean their pet articles and the machines are full of dog hair.  But, then again, maybe I'm a little more tolerant than some about sharing public facilities.

We visited one laundromat that had a sign asking users to run an extra empty wash cycle after washing horse blankets. I think people must do that since we had no problems with hair on the clothes we washed there. That was the only place we've every felt any qualms about using.

Early in our travels we liked campground laundries best because you could often trade paperback books there. That was before eBooks became so popular.

Linda

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18 hours ago, EcoNeato.org said:

How can I find a good, clean place to do laundry?

I have a washer/dryer onboard, but every once in a while use a laundromat (16 years of fulltiming), and I have the same dispiriting experiences you do.  Smokers right at the door, and even inside, they reek if you're within 10 feet of them.  Slack-jawed people watching blaring TVs, or yammering into their cell phones.  Screaming kids running around. 

Sound familiar?

A laundromat in El Reno, Oklahoma, was the worst I'd ever seen.  I'd taken the cover off my mattress, along with my bedspread, and turned around and walked out and put them back on the bed, unwashed.  Fruita, Colorado, was also gross.  And in Padre Island, Texas, my sheets came out of the washer with oil all over them.  My takeaway was to be careful when in areas where there is oilfield activity, which all three of these were.

But I've had some nice ones, too.  The laundromat in Winter Park, Colorado, was just wonderful--clean, unpopulated, and a chill vibe.  Three miles up the road, in Fraser, it was merely passable (but I did find a dollar in a washing machine).  The one I went to in Boulder, Colorado, was also super--on a weekday morning, just a couple of college kids in there.

Crested Butte, Colorado, has one laundromat, and at least half the machines are always broken every time I've been there over the years.  Frisco, Colorado, has two laundromats, and the one I went to had a nice atmosphere (which probably just means there was hardly anybody else there, and they didn't have TVs blaring); the change machine ate my $20 bill, and there was a sign saying to call a phone number if you lose money and I did and left a message with my address and got a $20 bill in the mail.  Harrisonburg, Virginia, had a nice new laundromat when I was there, but it didn't take coins--only cards, for which you had to pay $1 or something, and if you put too much money on it you didn't get it back.  Not a great situation for people just passing through.

These places with nice laundries are often fairly wealthy communities, and I think there's a correlation.  Crested Butte's laundry is attached to the hostel, which uses those machines to wash bedding, plus the hostelers use it, which counteracts my usual experience with laundromats in expensive places.

(And I just noticed that the majority of these are in Colorado.  That's probably because we're usually boondocking in Colorado, or don't have sewer hookups, so we're more likely to use a laundromat.)

We don't stay in RV parks that often, but I always check out the laundry room, and they're usually okay, although in some cases, the laundromat in an RV park is the public laundromat for that town.  The problem for me is that there can be a limited number of machines, and often no double front loaders or the like.  I don't really care for top-loading machines.

I do know that timing can make a big difference.  I avoid Mondays like the plague, and weekends are obviously crowded.  I haven't really decided whether weekday mornings are good or not--they can be overrun with kids, but otherwise don't seem as crowded as evenings.  I'm guessing Tuesdays would be a good day, because that's the day that I see laundromats running specials, like free drying.  (You'd obviously not want to go when they have free drying if you want to avoid the teeming masses.)

If I used the same laundromat all the time, I'd figure out the ebb and flow of people and work around it.  And that, of course, is one of the problems with being a fulltimer--not being there long enough to figure out the ebb and flow, never mind take advantage of it.

Yelp reviews can be helpful if you keep in mind that most people posting there are idiots whose main complaint about everywhere is that the service employees were cold or arrogant.  But you can read between the lines and get a feel for whether the place is new or old, whether they take coins, etc., which can be helpful. 

To be honest, if I had to always do my laundry at laundromats, I'd rethink fulltiming.  My washing machine can do a load with 8 gallons of water, and I've often used it while boondocking because I have a 75-gallon gray tank.  It's great if we're mountainbiking a lot, because I can wash just those filthy clothes without going to a laundromat, and the front loader spins the dickens out of them, so they easily dry overnight.

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12 hours ago, Blues said:

Sound familiar?

Do you keep a log of laundromats? I couldn't begin to give so detailed a list of other then a few that were either notably unique or that we visit somewhat regularly. I do remember Council Grove KS where a parrot startled Pam by landing on her shoulder. Her jump frightened it away but when she sat down it came back to greet her with "Hello... I love you!" The laundromat now has a new owner and the parrot is gone. 

I also remember one in Washburn, ND where the attendant  returned our money one morning because the dryer didn't get things quite dry. While I do recall quite a few other places that we have visited laundromats but most of them left no lasting impressions. 

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One thing I have done to find decent laundromats is to call the local Red Cross's Disaster Action Team office and ask where they recommend their fire clients go to wash their non-ruined yet smoke smelling and wet clothes after a house fire.

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I've been on the road for a number of years, using laundromats, and rarely found the problems you described.  I will say that using Garmin's "Laundry" search will almost always take you to a Laundry/Dry Cleaner, not coin laundries.  

I agree that asking campground hosts works well.  They are also a great source for local attractions.

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14 hours ago, Kirk W said:

Do you keep a log of laundromats? I couldn't begin to give so detailed a list of other then a few that were either notably unique or that we visit somewhat regularly.

These were all notably unique to me.  Since I have a washing machine, the number of laundromats I've been to is small compared to people who have to go 25 or 50 times a year.  Plus it's a production to figure out which one to go to in the first place, and then load up the car and make sure I don't leave anything behind in a washing machine or dryer, or dropped on the floor (never did find that lost sock in Crested Butte). 

 

 

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I can beat all of the examples!  Someone with a larger dog appeared to have taken up the throw rugs the dog had used for a toilet, big potty, and put them in the washer without shaking them out.  It fell on the floor, was in the washer and the dryer.  This person also routinely washed his containers with chewing tobacco in.  

I am currently washing our clothes daily in a Scrubba and using a spin dryer to get them dry enough to dry within a couple of hours after seeing one of the contractor scoop a pile of filthy, greasy clothing from the back of his truck to wash.  Another big issue with contractor presence can be tar.

It doesn't hurt to carry a container of bleach wipes, always checking before placing anything in the washer or dryer.  Sadly, many of the laundry mats are in less than great areas of a city, and in one city, it was the clearinghouse for the illegal drug trade.  

I agree with the others, check for reviews, but that will probably be limited for some areas.

 

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Our last experience with a comercial washer/dryer store was in Clewiston FL.  DW opened the lid of a washer and a BIG spyder crawled out. That was it; DW grabbed me by the ear, I was still holding the clothes basket, and we left. As soon as we got in the truck she said " that's it, you're going to put a washer/dryer in our 5er.

You know the rest of the story.

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1 hour ago, Dutch_12078 said:

Our preference is for laundries with an active on-site attendant...

If you are ever in Salmon, Idaho, they opened a wonderful, clean, 3 different sizes both washer and dryer laundromat just a block off main street (across from the Murdoch's).  Full time very nice attendant lady the times I went.  My guess is at least 30 washers/30 dryers, restrooms, change machine.  Nice place.

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even what looks like a clean and safe place. some low life/home based auto, and auto body shops bring in there used oil and solvent stained and soaked items and run them in consumer based washers.

of which is ageist many laws in many city's, towns, county's, etc.

Edited by packnrat

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My father was a sheet metal worker who often came home with roofing tar on his clothes. Mom washed those in the same machine she used for all of our clothes. Where are traveling workers supposed to do their laundry?

Linda

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i was not saying workers clothing. but industrial items. aka the chem soaked items from a small company that refuses to get there items cleaned the safe, proper and legal way.

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Just Google them and drop by and check it out. This way you can see if they are up to your standards. I think I came across one so so one in 4 1/2 years.

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Yeah, that seems to beat them all, but here's a serious 1st place tie contender or perhaps 2nd place winner: I saw an old hag undress inside the laundromat to take a bath in the sink!!!

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